Archive for the Super Star Rajesh Khanna Category

Rajesh Khanna. Cloning. Confusion in Kazhak.

Posted in Super Star Rajesh Khanna with tags on December 29, 2013 by manoharv2009

Rajesh Khanna in Kati Patang (1970)Image

Little did I know till recently that it was  Aradhana (1969) that changed our lives – though we were born 2 years after.We joined school in 1982 and most of us were late 1970 – early 72 born. Aradhana was released in 1969, and was reportedly an instant hit of Shri Khanna, and he was the first superstar. In what could be termed Aradhana effect, there was 6 namesakes of Shri Khanna in our batch. It was as if some one ordered half a dozen of us.

Rajesh Bhanu, MH Rajesh, Rajesh R, Rajesh M Menon and  Rajesh R Nath were the initial five and just as we heaved a breath, in darts Rajesh Nair from Kapurthala on transfer in 8th standard. To add confusion to our lives as Rajeshs, the first three went to same selection centre in 1989. The second two went to same institution/service/squadron/arm/course and even commanded the same units and the first two were together in staff course that too in the same class. Life was indeed fun and it got exponentially confusing. If the Persian poet knew of this today-he would say if there was a confusion on earth-it is this( three times sir! )

One can narrate a series of confusions and comparisons that ensued and that plague us till date. They came in myriad forms! It took an interesting crescendo when conduct and character report of one was rendered to the other prospective -in laws when we were of a marriageable age. Imagine a ride on someone else’s  reputation for life – I bet it isn’t easy! We continue to get erroneously debited and credited on each others accounts, thanks to Shri Khanna.1982 also wasn’t exactly information age at Kazhakootam. We took a lot of time to gather how many Rajeshs actually existed. Quickly we grasped how many were in our House. Just as one thought that was final, came a surprise from another division or house at the other end of the campus.

Gunguna Rahe Hain from Aradhana(1969)

It was also a bit like science we now know . Just when we thought we accounted every Rajesh, like Mr Higg’s Boson, a new Rajesh was suddenly discovered. Some left the orbit gathering escape velocity. However always a floating populace of Rajeshs that remained in the batch. I still can’t put a figure on how many finally remained in the batch and graduated without facing wrath of an affected Rajesh-let.

The collective wisdom of the class quickly figured out a simple way to deal with such confusions. They just ignored the first name. In our entire duration at school none of us were ever, ever addressed as ‘Rajesh’. What a waste of a charming name! We were instead addressed only by surnames and initials. Not a great idea when the surname is your fathers name, you are with your father and a bunch of twelve-year olds go screaming your father’s name devoid of traditional niceties. One had a lot of explaining to do back home.

As a secondary effect, seeing the wave of Rajeshs, our beloved Housemaster, obviously the one with with the largest number of Rajeshs in his kitty, sensed the good karma in the name and followed suit. He promptly named his son Rajesh. Thus yet another Rajesh blossomed in the campus.The man was wise. This Rajesh-of- the- secondary- effect went to win several medals and a sword of honor in his service, graduated from the IIT and is today a star amongst the flock. The name indeed possessed the requisite charm.

I heaved a sigh of relief when some time back I encountered a Rajesh Khanna in-the-full. Was even more relieved later when I came across an Amitabh Bachhan, Saddam Hussein and Kanu Sanyal – all from gods own Kerala! I also learned from TV that there were even triplets named Proton, Electron and Neutron too. I liked art over science. My parents were indeed kind to me. Growing up in the intellectual Kerala of the 80′s, I was also a trifle embarrassed with the filmy origins of my name. An Adoor Gopalakrishnan, a Mani Kaul or a John Abraham (not the current one with that swagger, please !) would’ve been okay. Even a more serious actor such as Satyan would’ve passed muster. Men in floral prints, large collars and bell bottoms who ran around trees or rode Yezdis tied up on flatbed trucks on the Mumbai-Pune highway was a little infra dig to me then. At least that’s what I thought Shri Khanna and his ilk did. Probably, I may be wrong.

Yezdi Classic

The Yezdi Classic

Much later I also went through an intense emotional turmoil whilst writing my daughter’s name in the application for her birth certificate. The dilemma was whether to add my original surname which my father had ceremonially dumped or add ‘Rajesh’ as a surname to her name. Not adept to taking decisions quickly I added Rajesh as her surname with a caveat that I will pass the buck for her to choose some day. True to my word, I recently asked the teenager if that was okay her. Genes indeed skip a generation,she quipped that ‘Menon’ as a surname sounds quite out of fashion and she would stick to her birth certificate.So Rajesh- the -first-name just got promoted instantly as Rajesh- the- surname, thanks to my twelve year old! Even Shri Jatin Arora’s uncle responsible for his change of name wouldn’t ever have imagined such a deal.

The family that I belonged to usually reserved names like Achuthan Kutty or ventured as far as a fashionable ‘Padmanabhan‘ or ‘Unnikrishnanan‘ for boys. For years I kept wondering why I was chosen for that first etymological adventure in the family. That was the easier one to solve with a Hindi movie buff uncle squarely to blame. However the reason for the flood of name sakes in ‘that’ year at school got resolved only recently.The death of our illustrious ‘namesake’ reinforced what I had guessed- It was indeed ‘Aradhana’.

Recently I was asked if the name charmed girls of my time. I wish it did. The fact is that, by then late Shri Khanna was past the prime time of Bollywood and his movies were relegated to prime time Doordarshan. In the era of the Khans it simply couldn’t match up. So the name alone never worked in that department. One had to work hard and add value to the brand! One thing is certain. I knew very little of my namesake and he was indeed a superstar – so super that six children – 10% of our initial batch size were named after him! I observed a similar percentage in the subsequent course I did. 3 out of 30 who graduated from the academy bore that name – 10% again. Now take a minute and imagine the elevation from name to surname- you can see a geometric progression ahead. That’s the power of that stardom.

Roop Tera Mastana from Aradhana (1969)

Any one who was named ‘Rajesh’ before us was done so by a visionary and after us was a tad too late. We remain the ‘asli namesakes‘. The ones who took the tide right ! May Shri Jatin Arora’s soul rest in peace. Our sincere condolences to the family. His name would continue to live on for ever. I wish I saw more of his movies and learned more of him when he was alive.

RIP Kaka.



Kudrat – 1981

Posted in Super Star Rajesh Khanna with tags on December 15, 2013 by manoharv2009

Saturday, January 21, 2012





There are many different views regarding the number of basic plots possible in storytelling. Some say that there seven; a few argue that there could be twenty. An argument also claims that all kind of plots center on conflict (either internal or external), and in that sense there is only one basic plot in all stories. Whatever be the case, it leaves very little room for storytellers and film-makers to experiment. Or does it? The finest film-makers have, at times, taken the most mundane of stories and have presented them in such a novel manner that they have left the audiences spellbound. They have proven that though the plots may be limited, the possibilities are endless. And this is what essentially Chetan Anand did in his 1981 feature Kudrat starring Rajesh Khanna, Hema Malini, Vinod Khanna, Raajkumar, and Priya Rajvansh in principal roles.


Kudrat is Chetan Anand’s intricate version of Madhumati set entirely in the serene locales of Shimla. It begins with Chandramukhi (Hema Malini) and her family returning to the place of her birth, Shimla, after twenty years. Even though the twenty years haven’t seen the twenty something Chandramukhi return to Shimla, she starts finding a lot of things about the city very familiar. Just two days into their stay, she meets Dr. Naresh Gupta (Vinod Khanna), a family friend, and they start dating all over the city. Just when things look like they couldn’t go any better, Chandramukhi runs into Mohan Kapoor, a city advocate who has the city’s richest man Choudhary Janak Singh (Rajkumar) for his guardian. Although Mohan Kapoor is a stranger to her, she feels a quaint pull towards him, as if they had been romantically involved at some point in their lives. For his part, even Mohan seems a bit perturbed when Chandramukhi is around him, despite having Choudhary Janak Singh’s daughter and his fiancée Karuna (Priya Rajvansh) with him. 

Over the next few days, Chandramukhi starts getting flashes of her past life triggered by her visiting the places she used to visit with Madho (Super Star Rajesh Khanna) in her previous birth. Not only this, she starts getting nightmares that leave her feeling utterly depressed and scared. To help her, Naresh, also a psychiatrist, decides to do a past life regression on her and through it he discovers that what Chandramukhi was claiming was absolutely the truth. She and Mohan Kapoor had been lovers in their past lives and had lived in the very city in which they were present at that point of time. He relays all this to Mohan Kapoor who refuses to believe the story. But soon, even he starts getting convinced about Chandramukhi’s claim. In fact, she makes him recall something more sinister. He and Paro (Chandramukhi in her previous birth) had been separated in their past lives because of a terrible crime. Paro had been raped and killed by an otherwise honorable man who turns out to be none other than Choudhary Janak Singh. What follows next is a riveting courtroom drama in which Mohan Kapoor accuses the most reputable man in Shimla (and also his beloved guardian) of a crime that he had committed twenty years ago. What adds more drama to the proceedings is that the man is defended by none other than his own daughter Karuna, who refuses to believe that her father could commit such a ghastly act.

Chetan Anand laces the screenplay with some brilliant sequences that are truly one of their kinds in Hindi cinema. The past life of the two actors is set in the pre-independence era when Shimla was the summer capital for the Britishers. The past-life regression is done very authentically and the way it has been shot is way ahead of its times. The entire court-room battle and the superb culmination are captivating, and in fact haunt you till much later after finishing the movie. Also, the scene of the crime and the subsequent few minutes, are shot in a style that is not usual for the Hindi cinema. The inherent drama in the script is accentuated by superbly designed situations and some wonderful dialogues. The performances by all the actors complement the brilliantly written screenplay. Hema Malini has the most complex role of all and she does well while looking absolutely gorgeous throughout the movie. Vinod Khanna and Rajesh Khanna are able, while Rajkumar is his usual flair and glory. Priya Rajvansh looks a misfit in the cast as despite the tons of make-up she looks far from the young lady she plays (But then she and Chetan Anand were romantically linked and he used to cast her in all his movies). Even Aruna Irani has a critical role which she performs well.

The entire feel of the movie is of melancholy and suspense. The setting is akin to an old English mystery drama- and rightly so for Shimla is indeed a Victorian town in many ways. What adds to the whole atmospherics is a wonderful tune by RD Burman, who is at his best in the movie. The tune which forms the song ‘Humein Tumse Pyaar Kitna’ comes more than once in the film and complements the soul of the story wonderfully well. The other memorable song in the enterprise is ‘Tune O Rangeele’ which is like a beautiful show-reel of both Shimla’s beauty and Paro and Madho’s romance. The other songs too are good, though not as fondly recalled.

Parting Note: Kudrat is an excellent suspense-mystery-reincarnation-drama movie that boasts of some remarkable sequences and some memorable songs. Although its story seems to be a homage to Madhumati, it has its own uniqueness and own charm which is a result of the brilliant screenplay and direction by Chetan Anand.
Published by :

Safar – 1970

Posted in Super Star Rajesh Khanna with tags on December 15, 2013 by manoharv2009

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Safar (1970)

Safar is one of the famous Rajesh Khanna movies from his super-stardom phase. A musical drama that has philosophical undertones, it is one of those ‘it was good while it lasted’ kind of movies. The plot of the movie, directed by Asit Sen, is slightly reminiscent of another Rajesh Khanna classic Anand, with him playing the role of a man who remains jovial and level-headed despite being terminally ill. The major difference between Anand and this movie is that while the former focused on the idea of living your life to the fullest, this movie has romance at its forefront.
Avinash (Rajesh Khanna) is a college student who is more interested in bringing blank canvasses to life using his skill with the brush. There is a face that comes repeatedly in most of his paintings, and he soon discovers Neela (Sharmila Tagore) who shares a striking resemblance with that face. Neela is a diligent college student who aspires to become a successful surgeon. After an initial misunderstanding she treats Avinash to good health after he falls ill. They strike a delightful friendship that extends to Neela’s family comprising of her elder brother and his wife. This results in some of the most sparkling moments in the film, with a candid Avinash joyfully pulling the leg of Neela’s wannabe playwright brother. Soon this friendship translates into love, but fate has something else in store with Avinash soon realizing that he suffers from disease that cannot be cured. At the same time a rich businessman Kailash (Feroz Khanna) too falls in love with Neela, who is also the tuition teacher for his younger brother. When Avinash gets to know of this, he asks Neela to sacrifice their love and marry Kailash who promises a more secure future for her.

This entire premise is very similar to Shah Rukh Khan’s 2004 super-hit ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’. In fact it is hard to ignore the possibility that Karan Johar/ Nikhil Advani would have been inspired by Safar while writing their movie. And this is not it; the second half of the movie is structured in a way that is very reminiscent of another Shah Rukh Khan starrer from about the same period ‘Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam’, in which he had Salman Khan for company. After Neela gives in to Avinash’s plead and marries Kailash, there begins a family drama with Kailash suspecting his wife of infidelity with Avinash. He finds it very hard to accept their friendship (much like how SRK finds it tough to accept his wife’s companionship with Salman in HTHS).

In fact with such turn of events, the movie changes color dramatically and becomes more melodramatic with the earlier focus being relegated to the background. In fact the culmination of the movie is the most confused part of the movie. It ends on a philosophical note with Neela’s sacrifice coming to prominence. In fact this is one movie where the central focus shifts between three characters- from Avinash in the first half, to Kailash in the post intermission portion, and to Neela in the culmination. When I come to think of it, I find it difficult to remember any other such movie. To the credit of all the three actors playing these characters, they don’t let this aberration become too obvious through the strength of their performances.
Now for the point that I was waiting to make- the songs of this movie are simply delightful. Each and every song is a classic and is truly memorable. In fact, this movie can deserve the tag of a classic just on the strength of its musical score by Kalyanji-Anandji.

Parting with my favorite song from the movie.

Published by :

Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein – 1977

Posted in Super Star Rajesh Khanna with tags on December 15, 2013 by manoharv2009

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein (1977)

A completely misleading poster of the movie- playing up the drunkard jilted-lover image of Rajesh Khanna, and glorying a five minute Jeetendra appearance. The movie is nothing like what this poster indicates. 
Five minutes into the movie, and you can make out it is a Gulzar film. This Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini film is though not directed by the maestro himself, but by Meraj, who was an assistant to the man in most his earlier directorial ventures. But everything- be it the dialogues or the treatment, or even the look given to the lead actors- looks straight out of the Gulzar school of film-making. That he has written the screenplay is just a part of this happy occurrence.

The story is set in a village, very much like the Jeetendra- Hema Malini starrer Khushboo that came just two years or so before this movie. But this time, instead of Jeetendra, the moustache is donned by (the then on the wane) superstar, who gets to play a meaty author (read Gulzar)-backed role. Ravi (Rajesh Khanna) is a city bred educated but unemployed youngster, who doesn’t lose his sense of humor and wit despite his many failures to secure a decent employment. A chance encounter leads him to the job of a dakiya (postman) in a nearby village, which he gladly accepts. In the village he soon gets around to doing his job with much sincerity and dedication. Within no time gets acquainted with most of the village folk- each of who have their own story to tell. These include a senile old lady who awaits the return of her son, a young widow who has lost her husband in the war- but has not lost the zest for living, and a young lady named Mohini (Hema Malini) who to Ravi’s pleasant surprise appears more than willing to strike a companionship. Soon Ravi and Mohini start meeting everyday and Ravi falls in love with her, completely oblivious to the fact that she has very little interest in him- the person, and most of her attention is reserved for Ravi- the postman. This is because Mohini expects a letter from her lover, an army-man, to reach her. Ravi’s pleasing ways and respectful manners lead her to confide in him her relationship with this soldier (Jeetendra in a guest appearance). This love story of hers completely shatters Ravi’s heart, who had genuinely felt that Mohini’s affections were a result of them drawing closer to one another with each passing day. But consoling himself, Ravi decides to go the city and look for this soldier who had not written to Mohini despite his many promises. When he returns, the news arrives that Mohini’s beloved is no more and has lost his life in the war. It then becomes his responsibility, being a postman, to break this news to Mohini…

Not unlike Khushboo, this story too looks like a chapter out of Malgudi Days with all its simple and unhurried appeal. The drama in the story is somewhat based on the fact that in those days very few village people could read and write their own letters- and the responsibility of the same then rested upon the village postman- who thus became an essential part of their lives. In that sense the village postman acted like a ‘social glue’, being a common element in all the villagers’ lives. Here the song ‘Dakiya Daak Laya’ reflects on pretty much the same sentiment. While the postman drama is the backdrop, the innocent love-story with all its uncertainty and apprehensions, is the motif in the movie. Ravi’s one sided love, and his expression of the same through his sketches (that are revealed at the end), is quite endearing. The most unique thing about the movie however, is that despite all its underlying tension; it retains a light-hearted spirit on the surface. There are many instances of humor, though like in all other Gulzar movies, they are quite understated. But quite unlike most of his films, the music score here is not too memorable with two of the songs being quite situational, and a forced nautanki dance number (picturised on Rekha) not being as fun as it should have.

Rajesh Khanna puts in an earnest act, and quite underplays his character for most parts. It is easy to make out that he was a very fine actor, and thus his fall from fame appears more baffling (though perhaps that had more to do with his off-screen issues). Hema Malini is effective, though it looks like she walked down straight from the sets to Khushboo to this movie. The supporting cast doesn’t have much to do here with Farida Jalal (another Khushboo connection), Asrani, Amjad Khan, and Master Raju being the most popular ones from the ensemble.

Parting Note: This movie is a sweet love-story that deserves a watch by all those who like such village themes. And when you add the fact that it is almost a lost Gulzar film, it becomes a must watch for his fans.

Published by :

Late Super Star Rajesh Khanna Honored With Life Time Achievement Award At 5th GFFN

Posted in Super Star Rajesh Khanna with tags on December 9, 2013 by manoharv2009


Late Rajesh Khanna Honored

“Rajesh Khanna appeared in a total of 180 films – 163 feature films and 17 short films He won three Filmfare Best Actor Awards and was nominated for the same fourteen times. He received the most BFJA Awards for Best Actor (Hindi) – four times and nominated 25 times informed Sandeep Marwah President GFFN.

In 1991, Rajesh Khanna was awarded the Filmfare Special Award for completing 25 years in the industry, appearing in a record 101 films as the single lead hero in a span of 25 years. In 2005, he was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award

Rajesh Khannas made his debut in 1966 with Aakhri Khat and rose to prominence with his performances in films like Raaz, Baharon Ke Sapne Ittefaq and Aradhana He had 35 Golden Jubilee Hits.

Ashok Tyagi a friend to Rajesh Khanna and Director of his last film RIYASAT accepted the honor from Former Chief Election Commissioner of India G.V.G. Krishanmurthy at 5th Global Film Festival Noida to be delivered to the family at Mumbai.

Published in :

Super Star Rajesh Khanna – The last romantic hero of indian cinema

Posted in Super Star Rajesh Khanna on November 24, 2013 by manoharv2009


Soma Ghosh
19 July 2012, 10:43 PM IST


A toy train chugs its way up the winding tracks of Darjeeling and takes a turn, perhaps, at the Batasia Loop. A beautiful young girl sits by one of the windows, engrossed in a book. The camera closes in upon her as she looks up from her book to watch the hills in the distance. The faint sound of a harmonica draws her attention. The camera pans out on to an open jeep that drives up another bend and joins the road running parallel to the rail track. Two young men, in Nepali hats are seen on the jeep, one driving while the other breaks away from his harmonica and breaks into, “mere sapnon ki rani kab ayegi tu…”

The rest, as they say, is history. The dimpled, harmonica playing young man who smiled boyishly, crinkling his eyes rode directly into the hearts of almost all young girls of that time and a new star was born. His female following and their hero worship reached a new height for the first time in the history of Indian cinema. The frenzy that surrounded him, the way women threw themselves at him, lined the streets in front of his house to get a glimpse of him, wrote love letters penned in blood, married his photographs, the mass hysteria that surrounded him gave him the crown of the “super star” of Indian cinema. The first of his kind.

This had happened much before I could understand or appreciate cinema. By the time I started watching movies, it was the 80s. I watched him, but only on television, first in black and white and then in colour. By the time I had caught on to his movies, his super stardom was already on the wane. 

But the radio had shared some magical songs with me during my growing years that I later realized were picturised on him. To tell you the truth, even though those were the songs I lived for in my adolescent days, wishing that some day some starry eyed boy would sing them quite as romantically, to woo me, I had failed to understand why he was called the “superstar”. His mannerisms, the nod of his head, the way he almost danced but never really did, the way he tilted his head and smiled, the wink of his eyes, the drama in his voice when he spoke – I liked all of that but never understood why they induced a mass hysteria among women of another generation.   

Today, here in Mumbai, a light rain was falling from the morning. I was watching the last journey of the superstar of yesteryears, laid down on a bed of white mogras, and surrounded by white lilies and orchids. I watched the crowd that had brought traffic to a halt in that part of the suburb since yesterday. And I still wondered why. Was it only because that in India we place the man on the celluloid high above the celstial stars? Do we immortalize them because they match our fantasies? Do they embody all that we, as lesser beings, can never dream to become or achieve? 

Later in the afternoon, I was strolling down the pavement, on my way to run some errands. The neighbourhood taxi stand was a little more crowded than usual and I would have passed by without wondering why. But I thought I heard something that drew my attention to the motley crowd of Sardarjis. They had gathered round an aging gentleman in a yellow turban and long, flowing beard, while he sang “mere sapnon ki rani kab ayegi tu…”  thumping on the bonnet of his taxi to keep the beat. The crowd cheered and a young man requested , “Abhi Anand da gana …”

I had also spent a part of the morning on three long distance calls. I spoke to three women, who want to remain unnamed, for reasons they know best and are from that generation when Rajesh Khanna was the superstar. Two of them had seen the meteoritic rise of the star and had witnessed the frenzy for the star among their peers. The third was someone who introduced me to the music that I still hold close to my heart and is responsible in shaping my likes and dislikes in terms of cinema. I asked them the same question, individually. I had to know “Why did Rajesh Khanna become the super star that he was? What was it about him that evoked such a craze among the women of his time?”

By their own submission, they belonged to a much more conservative time. Love, romance were things of another world, from another dimension, mostly found between the pages of novels. And as Jack Pizzey points out in his 1973 BBC documentary on Rajesh Khanna, “Eight Indians out of ten still marry by arrangement to partners they scarcely knew before the wedding, so they are fascinated by the story like this one where the hero falls in love with the heroine and then marries her.”

“Those were simpler days. We had much less to pay attention to outside our limited conservative, middle class life. Cinema was one of the very few forms of entertainment that vied for our attention and we had very few stars to admire. Watching a man wooing a woman in a dark theatre was thrilling. And afterwards, we had a lot of time to think and sigh about the hero, discuss his mannerisms and read tit bits of trivia available in film magazines. So the stars automatically became larger than life. I’d have my heart racing in anticipation just watching Rajesh Khanna tilt his head, wink and smile that smile of his.” came the first candid reply from a lady who I knew to be reserved. Discussing movies and movie stars in her presence were always frowned upon in my girlhood days.  

“You have to understand that women by nature  are romantic while men most often find it difficult to express themselves. Men of our times were stoic and social norms came in the way of such open show of affection or expressing emotions. When Rajesh Khanna broke into the scene, there was none who were like him. The earlier heroes were either aging or lacked romantic appeal. His simplicity, the way he looked into the eyes of the heroine, the way he pined for love and that twinkle in his eyes – they were the sum total of everything a woman of our time could ever imagine.” Shared one of the voices on the telephone. “He embodied the romance that was missing in our lives. He was breathing life into the idea of romance as we always imagined romance would be.”

“You know, when I would hear all those songs on the radio, I would imagine the situation in my mind and when I watched him lip syncing with the same song on screen, everything fell into place. Everything that I’d imagine about the hero, the way he looks into the heroine’s eyes, the way he would embrace her or play with her hair perhaps, everything matched. His mannerisms were something that none had inflicted upon us before. His voice had a silky smoothness. His smile had a boyish charm. And the way he looked at his woman that melted our hearts to the core. That’s why he was so popular among girls of our times.” reasoned the woman for whom life was fun in spite of how twisted it was in reality.

“In most of the movies that preceded his, the hero always had to scale the wall that society would build between the girl and him or bridge social differences. Love would happen much later after a lot of the boulders were removed. The hero and heroine would perhaps sing a song or two and voila, the movie was over. Rajesh Khanna dared to break down that wall. He would dare to fall head over heels in love and did not make any bones about it. And the girl in question would become the centre of all his attention from the word “go”. And contrary to most of the heroes of his time, who were always larger than life, he ripped open his heart and cried if the character required to. That brought him much closer to earth, closer to where we dwelled in reality. And I’ve seldom seen anybody celebrating life the way he did in movies that saw him die at the end.”

“Who wouldn’t want to be wooed the way he wooed his heroines? What made him larger than life was his portrayal of a man closer to reality, someone who we could relate to. He seemed like the boy next door, the everyman and not a super human. We lived with an image of romance in our mind, an abstract idea. Our lives and times were devoid of the thrill of real life romance and he filled up that void with his charisma and sweet romance.”

So the man who is no more, did he symbolise romance on screen in such a way that his passing has taken away the promise of romance from a whole generation’s life? I wonder. 



Published by

Remembering the poetic masculinity Rajesh Khanna’s lady love has been revealed

Posted in Super Star Rajesh Khanna on October 28, 2013 by manoharv2009


Men, actress Mumtaz loved and lost!
Shammi Kapoor, Dara Singh, and now Rajesh Khanna. A week before her 65th birthday, Mumtaz revisits men, movies and marriag

His films release the middle class from questions of class and social conformity, and allow for an exploration of what it means to be an individual in those times. The time that was to follow when a new era was ushered in by the arrival of Amitabh Bachchan, grappled with a completely new set of questions that were rooted in identity and class and an overall disappointment with father figures.

Shammi Kapoor, Dara Singh, and now Rajesh Khanna. A week before her 65th birthday, Mumtaz revisits men, movies and marriage
 She was only 26 when she left the musty studios of Mumbai to marry Mayur Madhwani, head of one of the largest conglomerates in Uganda, and moved into manors in Mombasa andLondon.

The last few months have given actress Mumtaz a reason to revisit a world she left behind with ease. The deaths of Shammi Kapoor, Dara Singh, and now Rajesh Khanna, make the Mumtaz story fresh again. Shammi, who she loved intensely but couldn’t marry. Dara Singh, who agreed to pair opposite a B-grade rookie, and gave her stunt princess status. And Rajesh Khanna, in whose superstardom, she shimmered. Right from Bindiya chamkegi to Jai Jai Shiv Shankar, their ditties rocked the airwaves and box office. Excerpts from a long-distance chat:

What memories of Rajesh Khanna do you carry with you?
I met him on the sets of Do Raaste. He was choosy about his friends, very reserved. I was flattered to be his close friend. I was voluptuous, so he’d always say, ‘Aye moti, idhar aa…” He was a perennial latecomer. He wasn’t strong on dance or rhythm, so, when we did combination shots, main sambhaal leti thi. The dance masters would cheat with his close-ups (laughs). We had trouble doing the Chal dariya mein doob jaaye (Prem Kahani) song. But we managed somehow.

When did you last meet him?
Rajesh wasn’t meeting anyone for a while. Thanks to Dimple (Kapadia) and Anju (Mahendroo), I got to meet him at his bungalow, Aashirwaad. We spoke about my fight against cancer and surviving chemotherapy. Dimple said they were ordering all the things he liked to eat, but he wouldn’t eat anything. She joked that they ended up eating all the stuff. I gave him duas, and said he’d survive his ailment.

They say Shammi Kapoor and Jeetendra were in love with you…
I was lucky that men wanted to marry me. There was an attraction, yes, but I didn’t act on it. I’d wake up at 4 am every day, and reach the studios on the dot at 9. I had far too many responsibilities to have affairs. There was no time for love and romance. Of course, I was fond of Jeetu. Dharmendra was an attractive man. Dev saab was so handsome. But it’s not always necessary to have an affair with your co-stars. You can admire them from a distance (laughs).

But Shammiji was keen to marry you.
I was all of 18, and in love with Shammi Kapoor while we were filming Brahmachari. He wanted me to give up my career, but I wasn’t ready. I had my family to look after. I had lost my mother during Boond Jo Ban Gaye Moti.

What comes to mind when I say Rajesh Khanna and Shammi Kapoor?
Jaise meri life mein doosra Rajesh Khanna nahin ho sakta…waise hi doosra Shammi Kapoor bhi nahin ho sakta.

Is it true that heroes had refused to work with you because you started as a stunt film heroine?
Yes. Dharamji (Dhamendra) refused. Later, of course, we did Loafer. Shashi Kapoor refusedSachaa Jhutha because he was cast opposite me. Later, when I was about to get married, he was keen that I work with him. We did Chor Machaye Shor just before I quit the industry. I’m grateful to Dara Singh, who was the hero in all my stunt films. He could have said no, like the others. I’m also eternally grateful to Dilip saab ( Dilip Kumar), who agreed to act opposite me inRam aur Shyam.

You and Sharmila Tagore never got along. Is that true?
It wasn’t rivalry. She was born with a golden spoon. Her first film was opposite Shammi Kapoor (Kashmir Ki Kali), and she became an instant star. I started with supporting roles opposite Shammiji in films like Brahmachari. Perhaps because both, Sharmila and I, did several films with Rajesh Khanna, the press wrote rubbish. But the fact is, heroines cannot be friends, not then, not now. We didn’t do dinners or hang out together. It’s always been like that.

But even as a supporting actress, you got some memorable songs like Aaj Kal Tere Mere, that gave you the chance to make a fashion statement.
All credit for that goes to Bhanu Athaiya (costume designer). I was uncomfortable dancing in a saree. So, she made me one with readymade pleats, and a zipper on the side. That became the ‘Mumtaz saree’. Funnily, Aaj Kal Tere Mere was a song composed for a Nasir Hussain film for Dev Anand. Dev saab rejected it, and we used it for Brahmachari. Kismet dekho! The style is aped even today. Recently, Manish Malhotra (costume designer) told me he had made something similar for Priyanka Chopra.

Apparently, producers told every heroine, including Rekha and Neetu Singh, to ape you? Any actor today who you think imitates you?
I don’t think actresses today resemble me. I had too much of a pug nose. The only one who comes close is Shah Rukh Khan’s wife Gauri. I’m told the director of Dhadkan asked the heroine ( Mahima Chaudhary) to imitate my steps from Zindagi Ittefaq Hai (Aadmi aur Insaan) for a dance number in the film (Aksar is dunia mein). They say Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumarare my fans (laughs). No, I don’t ask them if they were in love with me. They treat me with so much respect.

Back then, were star wives jealous of your sassiness?
I’m not sure if I left star wives insecure. Magar ek aurat doosri khubsoorat aurat ko dekhke zaroor jalti hai. Upfront, everyone was nice to me. I never bothered to find out what they said behind my back.

And you gave it all up at the peak of your career.
There’s a time for every woman to get married. You should seize that moment. Several heroines of that time didn’t get married. They’re still single. I found a good man who loved me, so I chucked it all. I was fed up of films. I had planned the wedding in advance. A year after I got married, Prem Kahani, Roti and Aap Ki Kasam released. I refused Safar, Haathi Mere Saathi… because I was hellbent on getting married. Despite that, the phone never stopped ringing, whether I was in Mombasa or London.

For a superstar, marriage must’ve been an adjustment.
Yes. My husband comes from a traditional Gujarati family, and loved his food. I learnt to make dal-dhokli, undhiyu and khandvi. Today, I’m a fairly good cook.

But your marriage hit a rough patch when your husband got involved with another woman. I’m practical. I had two beautiful daughters and a husband who loved me immensely. I was not going to give up a marriage because of a stray incident. My husband is not a flirt; he’s a good-looking man. He made a mistake. Rather than dumping him, I chose to be by his side, and we tided the rough weather together. At the end of the day, I’m his wife. That’s what matters.

You had a tough pregnancy, didn’t you?
After a string of miscarriages, I gave birth to my first child. I spent six months of my pregnancy stuck in bed, staring at the ceiling. So my kids mean a lot to me.

Will you return to the movies?
What will I gain? I don’t want to play Shah Rukh’s mom or Akshay’s aunt.

In terms of style, Rajesh Khanna traded the extravagant for the conversational and spoke as if he meant what he said. Perhaps the secret to his success with women, was his ability to speak to them as persons rather than only through the lens of gender or appearance. In speaking to the person inside rather than the woman outside, in peering deeper into the eyes and valuing what lay hidden there, he brought women closer  to the imagined ideal of what cultural psychologist Sudhir Kakar calls a ‘two-person universe’

that exists between a man and woman; one where each ‘finally recognises the other’. His romantic style eschewed grand gestures relying instead on thoughtful attention communicated through gaze rather than touch. In his pivotal films, the freshness of youth masked a deeper maturity that combined attractiveness with a promise of deeper understanding. In some ways, Khanna embodied the best that could be imagined of a middle class Indian man, particularly from the viewpoint of a woman.

In contrast to the prosaic concerns of most Hindi film heroes , Rajesh Khanna represented the more poetic side of masculinity, one which exuded vulnerability but presented it a form of thoughtfulness, rather than insecurity. Romance deepened the intimacy between man and woman; it was a fire that glowed deep and burned long.

It is almost as if we were waiting for the man to die so that we could remember him. Not as he was at the time of his death but as we experienced him so many years ago. There is something about his influence that was so distinctive and deep that once it is possible to remember him again, memory gushes forth and sentiment washes over us. It is not unusual for stars to burn brightly for a short time and then fade away, but in Rajesh Khanna’s case, this pattern played out with such intensity so as to become uncomfortable. It is as if he lived only for five years, between 1969 (Aradhana) and 1973(Namak Haram), with the rest of his life, whether before or after, seeming to count for very little.

In all that has written about him after his passing, it seems even clearer that there was something that was terminally elusive about him and the success he enjoyed. The dazzling degree of adulation he attracted is difficult to explain using the usual explanations- there was little by way of physical appearance nor was he a teenage heart-throb. He did not connect with any dominant social issue of the time; his films do not have the kind of underlying thematic unity that Amitabh Bachchan’s work does. He worked with the kind of directors who made quiet films rather than epic blockbusters; it is very difficult to imagine films like Anand and Amar Prem generating mass hysteria.

What is easier to grasp is the distinctive nature of his films and his on-screen persona. Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of his best work is the emphasis on issues that are personal rather than the social. Few of his films use the familiar tropes of the day- he is rarely found embedded in a social context- his roles tended to focus on the individual, rather than the background he came from. He has been cast as Army officer, an artist, or often someone from an undefined profession and background. The questions his films dealt with were about the significant issues that we face as individuals in our everyday life. His films release the middle class from questions of class and social conformity, and allow for an exploration of what it means to be an individual in those times. The time that was to follow when a new era was ushered in by the arrival of Amitabh Bachchan, grappled with a completely new set of questions that were rooted in identity and class and an overall disappointment with father figures.

In terms of style, Rajesh Khanna traded the extravagant for the conversational and spoke as if he meant what he said. Perhaps the secret to his success with women, was his ability to speak to them as persons rather than only through the lens of gender or appearance. In speaking to the person inside rather than the woman outside, in peering deeper into the eyes and valuing what lay hidden there, he brought women closer  to the imagined ideal of what cultural psychologist Sudhir Kakar calls a ‘two-person universe’ that exists between a man and woman; one where each ‘finally recognises the other’. His romantic style eschewed grand gestures relying instead on thoughtful attention communicated through gaze rather than touch. In his pivotal films, the freshness of youth masked a deeper maturity that combined attractiveness with a promise of deeper understanding. In some ways, Khanna embodied the best that could be imagined of a middle class Indian man, particularly from the viewpoint of a woman.

In contrast to the prosaic concerns of most Hindi film heroes , Rajesh Khanna represented the more poetic side of masculinity, one which exuded vulnerability but presented it a form of thoughtfulness, rather than insecurity. Romance deepened the intimacy between man and woman; it was a fire that glowed deep and burned long. Even death in his world is imagined as a form of poetry (Maut tu ek kavita hai in Anand) rather than a sordid fact of life. The balance of poetry with masculinity was managed by his own persona as well as through the masculine timbre of Kishore Kumar (as against the mellifluous gentleness of say, a Hemant Kumar) in whose voice the poetry came to life. His films are more adult too, in that they deal with issues of life and death, love and loss, expectations and regret. Most of his popular songs philosophise in an accessible way about the deeper issues that underpin everyday life, and are tinged with a sense of mild incomprehension as to what life is all about.

Rajesh Khanna’s tragedy was that when youthfulness thickened into maturity, he was revealed to be just another middle-aged man. His face and body lost the freshness that had masked his morose conservatism, the poetry became a set of practised mannerisms and time and social context pulled the rug from under his feet. He lived the rest of his life in reverse, seeing it recede through the wrong end of the binoculars, beginning with his hey days, till he was barely a distant speck in our consciousness.

When we see Anand, Amar Prem, Aradhana, Safar, Bawarchi or Aavishkar today, we are transported back to another era not only because these are older films but because they expressed a side of us that has rarely been spoken to since. Before a time when cinema became raging spectacle, there seemed to be a brief period when we had the time for thoughtful individuality. The middle class began to take itself less seriously at around this time, as the larger reality of urban India elbowed its way into our consciousness. We miss that Rajesh Khanna of the crinkly eyes and the quiet gesture because in him we saw a reflection of who we would have liked to see in the mirror. Once upon a time.