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Rajesh Khanna’s dinner was never over without Mithai & Paan

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 5, 2014 by manoharv2009

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Bharati Dubey, TNN Jul 24, 2012, 02.10AM IST

MUMBAI: Rajesh Khanna always ended his dinner with a paan, which he would himself buy from his two favourite shops, either Mishra Paan Bhandar at Juhu or Paagal Paanwala on Turner Road.

The superstar’s friend for 11 years, Prakash Rohra, said, “He wanted paan after dinner and preferred to go and buy them himself. There were times when I would buy his paan from the Mishra shop in Juhu or we would drive to Turner Road where Paagal Paanwala is situated.”

Khanna’s usual was a Calcutta sada or sometimes, a magai paan. Manoj Yadav of Paagal Paanwala, where the actor would visit at least thrice a week at one point of time, said, “He stopped coming since last year. He usually came with friends in a red Zen and there used to be a lady with him. He would step out of the car and buy two paans, one he would eat there and the other he would get packed to take away. He would praise my paan.”

Like paan, Khanna had another favourite, without which his dinner would never be complete: sweets. Echoing Khanna’s co-actress Asha Parekh, Rohra said, “Khanna loved caramel custard and moong daal halwa. But he had stopped eating most sweets in the past year, he would have only the sugar-free ones. Once when I called him to say I was going to Allahabad, he asked me to bring back maathi (a sweet samosa) from there. I got specially made sugar-free samosas for him.”

His array of desserts was not restricted to the Indian varieties, ice creams occupying a top slot on his “cherish” list. He would often visit Natural Ice Creams on Hill Road. An attendant at the shop said the star liked the seasonal flavoured ones but Khanna’s alleged live-in partner, Anita Advani, maintained chocolate was his personal favourite. “We used to stand outside the shop and have ice creams,” she said.

And when it came to food, he would not stop at travelling all the way to Malshej Ghat near Pune, where he would Sushant Dhaba. “If we travelled to places like Shirdi, Kakaji liked to visit Sushant Dhaba for his food.” Another getaway that was popular with Khanna was Shangrila Resort in Kalyan. The resort marketing manager, Lenin Fernandes, said, “He liked staying in our Maharaja suite, which has a pool attached to it. He preferred staying indoors.” Rohra, who often booked the room for him, said, “When he would feel low and wanted to go out of the city, we would drive to this place and spend a couple of days there. We would drink and order a huge platter of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. But his day ended with a glass of cold milk. He would tell me, ‘Prakash, we drink, which causes acidity and milk is an antidote’.”

Published in :

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-07-24/news-interviews/32827057_1_rajesh-khanna-anita-advani-haridwar.

 

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The Original Superstar : Rajesh Khanna

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 22, 2013 by manoharv2009

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The Original Superstar: Rajesh Khanna
Rachel Dwyer  July 21, 2012 | UPDATED 15:43 IST
Rajesh Khanna
Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana (1969)

Rajesh Khanna, India’s first superstar, was adored by his fans for decades, but has never been given any academic recognition. Although he was the major star of the early 1970s, he was so eclipsed by Amitabh Bachchan’s hip and brooding persona that his role in the film industry has been neglected.

Rajesh Khanna was not cool. He was the nice middle-class boy who really did look as though he lived next door. He was good-looking rather than classically handsome, always slightly awkward in his tight safari suits, his hair a little stiff. But when Rajesh Khanna tilted his head, smiled and winked directly to the camera, his charm was overwhelming and women swooned. These well-rehearsed gestures seemed private rather than part of the public, nice boy persona, and seemed to speak directly and intimately to his fans. The combination of ordinariness and innocence with this knowing charm, was absolutely lethal. Who else could have made the audience convinced it was perfectly normal to live happily ever after with two wives, as he did at the end of Daag (Director: Yash Chopra, 1973)?

His characters were usually middle- or upper-middle class, but he often lacked the support of his family and seemed hurt and lost, in need of mothering. His despair was often angry, sometimes expressed through drunkenness and wonderful songs like ‘Yeh jo mohabbat’ in Kati Patang (Director: Shakti Samanta, 1970). Rajesh Khanna had some of the best songs of all time picturised on him, especially those of R.D. Burman sung by Kishore Kumar. Yet one of his finest performances as an actor was in Ittefaq (Director: Yash Chopra, 1969), a rare songless film where he plays a suspected murderer on the loose.

Aradhana (Director: Shakti Samanta, 1969), his first big Hindi film, had Rajesh Khanna in a double role with Sharmila Tagore as the heroine. It had one of the sexiest songs in Hindi cinema, ‘Roop tera mastana’ where the ‘bhool’ was inevitable, the song and the camera building up the tension as the couple looked at each other with boundless desire.

In the same movie, they played mother and son when Rajesh Khanna came back with his second role in the film. The tensions during the making of this classic must have been noteworthy, as Tagore went off to work with her mentor Satyajit Ray, while her scenes in ‘Mere sapnon ki rani’ were shot on another occasion to Rajesh Khanna’s, though none of it shows in the finished product.

 

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES

The actor in his best lines

Main marne se pehle marna nahin chahta. Safar, 1970

Babumoshai, hum toh rangmanch ki kathputliyan hain jiski dor uss uparwale ke haathon mein hai. Kab, kaun, kaise uthega ye koi nahin jaanta. Anand, 1971

Pushpa, mujhse ye aansu nahi dekhe jaate, I hate tears. Amar Prem, 1972

Kisi badi khushi ke intezaar mein hum yeh chhote chhote khushiyoon ke mauke kho detey hain. Bawarchi, 1972

Iss ek glass mein ek majdoor ki ek mahiney ki roti hai aur parivar ki saans. Kabhi socha hai ki iss ek glass ko peetay hi hum ek parivar ko bhooka maar dete hai. Namak Haraam, 1973

Insaan ko dil de, jism de, dimaage de, lekin yeh kambakhht pet mat de, jab pet deta hai, toh usse bhookh mat de… Roti, 1974

Anand (Director: Hrishikesh Muk-herjee, 1971), in which he plays a cancer patient, is more a celebration of life than death, with its great songs and its motto: ‘Zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin’ (Life should be big, not long). This was the first ever pairing of Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bach-chan, which was followed by Namak Haraam, another Hrishikesh Muk-herjee film that was released in 1973.

Amar Prem (Director: Shakti Samanta, 1972) was based on the Bengali story Nishipadma by Bibhuti-bhushan Bandyopadhyay, whose Pather Panchali was adapted by Satyajit Ray. A girl sold to a brothel by her family finds love and family , with those whose own family lives are unhappy. Along with the song ‘Chingari koi bhadke’, Rajesh Khanna’s line: ‘Pushpa, I hate tears’, before he cries himself, is one of its best moments.

In many of his greatest roles, Rajesh Khanna is more than a romantic hero, as the films often focus on love in the context of wider family relationships while raising issues such as illness, trade unionism, prostitution, insanity, animal welfare, etc. Perhaps it is part of the lack of a serious critical assessment of his work and a vague recollection of his eclipse by Amitabh Bachchan that he is remembered almost exclusively as a romantic hero. His songs are some of the most romantic in Hindi film history but need to be contextualised within his wider work.

I first recall coming across Rajesh Khanna in the Man Alive documentary made in 1973. Jack Pizzey, in this relatively early documentary on the Hindi film industry, wants to interview Rajesh Khanna. Endless deferrals are followed by meaningless interviews, then clips of the numerous retakes of ‘Suno kaho kaha suna’ from Aap Ki Kasam (Director: Kamal Bhatnagar, 1974). The gossip queen, Devyani Chaubal, tries to interpret Rajesh Khanna to the baffled Pizzey.

Then, suddenly, the wedding of Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia is announced and Pizzey is invited and allowed to film, transforming his documentary, which begins somewhat patronisingly, into a gem for screen fans.

I often walked past Rajesh Khanna’s bungalow Aashirwad on Carter Road in Bandra, noting that it looked quite neglected, and wondered about him and the nature of Hindi film stardom. I admire him and his family for their dignified silence about personal matters, though was glad to learn they all came together at the end.

Rajesh Khanna deserves critical assessment in the context of the late 1960s and early 1970s, especially with regard to the image of the non-metropolitan male and the creation of stardom. No one who writes about Hindi films can ignore him.

Just recently, I presented a paper at Stanford University which contained much about my favourite film of his, Haathi Mere Saathi (Director: M.A. Thirumugham, 1971). The film queries boundaries between humans and animals, as Rajesh Khanna is the only person who respects and understands the devotion and love of animals.

Raju and his elephants are touched by the divine, as Ganesh himself guides them, responds to them and finally the loyal Ramu is worshipped by the family. Rajesh Khanna plays a victim of human cruelty and mistrust wonderfully in this film, which is not really a children’s movie but one which continues to inspire government action for the endangered animal. Yet another part of the legacy of this superstar.

RIP Rajesh Khanna: Pyaar ki duniya mein, khush rehna mere yaar.

Pubished in :

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/rajesh-khanna-obituary-by-rachel-dwyer/1/209418.html

Aurat – 1967

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 18, 2013 by manoharv2009

Author Archives: padminifan
Aurat (1967)
November 4, 2012

Aurat is the remake of the successful tamil film Chitti (1966), played by Padmini. It was a female oriented film and the central character was played by Padmini, along with Pran, Rajesh khanna, Nazeema, Firoz Khan and Lalitha Pawar
The film tells about the suffering of a woman, Parvathi (Padmini) who was in charge of caring her mother and 7 siblings. She is the only earner of the house having 9 members. She wants her brother Suresh (Rajesh Khanna) to be a doctor. She also dreams of getting her mute sister (Revathi) married.

Parvathi was in love with a man (Firoz Khan). She agreed to marry him only after her brother’s studies were over.

Manoharilal (Pran), a widower and a rich man has 6 children and two siblings. He is a womanizer and he wants to marry a young lady, not for caring him and his family, but only for physical relationship. He is now in search for a woman and he arranges a broker for this purpose. The lady whom he wants to marry should have the following features:

“Her face should be as beautiful as Saira Banu,

From neck to hip, her figure should be like Helen,

Hip and walks like Vyjayanthimala

In Total effect she should be like PADMINI.”

Suresh is studying his final year. He needs to remit his fees. Parvathi seeked help from many people including her lover, but no one could help her.

While she returns home, she heard conversation between her brother and a marriage broker speaking about Manoharilal’s proposal to Parvathi. Even though the man is rich, Suresh and mother did not accept the proposal. But Parvathi agreed the proposal and asked the broker to bring him to a temple nearby on next day evening 5 pm. Suresh became very sad and told, “I know why you are marrying that old man. It is for us, for my studies, right? But there are many ways to get money to remit my fee. Sister you please stay back from the proposal. After I become a doctor, I will care my siblings”. But Parvathi don’t agree. She was worried that after he becomes a doctor and marries a girl, he could not care his siblings. But he promised that he will not marry or even fall in love till his siblings were all married.

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Padmini and Rajesh Khanna

However Parvathi sacrificed her life and love. Next day she met Manoharilal at temple and made a condition that he should take care of her family and Suresh till he becomes a doctor. He promised to do so and thus Parvathi agreed to marry him.

When Manoharilal’s family heard the news, they were all worried and they were afraid about step mother’s war. Parvathi along with her brother relocated to Manoharilal’s house. Initially the family did not liked her, But later on when they came to know about Parvathi’s character, she was well accepted and became the part of the family. Now she is a caring mother all children of Manoharilal and a loving daughter in law for his mother (Lalitha Pawar).

Days passed, Love blossomed between Suresh and Asha (Nazeema), sister of Manoharilal. When Manoharilal comes to know about their relation, he threw Suresh from his house and stops the financial aid he provided to Parvathi’s family and Suresh’s education.

Suresh started working with brother of Manoharilal, who hates him, to earn money for his studies. Later on he gets financial support from Parvathi’s ex-lover who is now a rich man. It was Asha who managed to go to his hotel to buy money for her lover’s studies. People thought Asha as a prostitute, who earns money through dirty way as she frequently visits hotel and returns with hand full of money.

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Pran and Padmini

Manoharilal arranges marriage for Asha. Bride groom visits her; He was shocked as he saw this girl in the hotel who makes money through dirty work. Immediately he told her family that she is a dirty girl. This shocks Parvathi. She beats Asha. But later she comes to know that Asha went hotel for borrowing money from Firoz Khan for Suresh. Suresh passed the final exam. Manoharilal realizes his mistake and gives Asha’s hand to Suresh. Parvathi was given a surprise by Firoz Khan as he married the mute sister. Everything ended successfully. Parvathi’s dream came true. She is now very happy.
One of the main attraction of the film is “dancing queen padmini learns to dance”.
Film was directed by S S Vasan and S S Balan. There were 4 songs in the film penned by Shakeel Badayuni and music by Ravi.

Published in :

http://dancingqueenpadmini.wordpress.com/author/padminifan/page/2/

Superstar friend in need with friends too few

Posted in Uncategorized on September 23, 2013 by manoharv2009

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http://www.telegraphindia.com/1120722/jsp/calcutta/story_15748318.jsp#.UkBzb1P4vcc

Achcha toh hum chalte hain…Super Star Rajesh Khanna

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 4, 2013 by manoharv2009

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He made heads turn, but not of the moneybag producers, when he hung out on the pavement outside Churchgate’s once-trendy Gaylord restaurant. Girls would hang out from the balconies in the adjoining buildings to chat with the wannabe actor, but the movie merchants would say under their breath, “Hurry… or he’ll start pestering us again.”

Of medium-height at most, ruddy complexioned, eyes which crinkled at the hint of a smile, Rajesh Khanna aka Kaka possessed just about the bare minimum qualities associated with a Bollywood star back in the 1960s. He belonged to the north, as they used to say then, spoke Hindi fluently, displayed attitude and the Churchgate college girls would swoon that from certain angles he looked like Alain Delon. Music composers Shankar-Jaikishan, regulars at the Gaylord, didn’t ever think he was worth sharing a cup of the restaurant’s famous cinnamon coffee. No matter. Khanna would smoke his 555 cigarettes right till the end of the butts. His body language, resting on the cars parked there, shrugged, “Hey guys, not to worry. My day will come.”
It did and how! In my waking memory I haven’t seen an actor who commanded the hysterical fan following which he did. “Rajesh Khanna worship” was intense even if it did not have the sort of longevity which Bollywood’s first superstar could have commanded. First? Simply because the word hadn’t been coined earlier, and Khanna’s tsunami-like popularity had to be experienced to be believed. His appeal cut through generations, from the campus set to grand pops and grannies.
The Gaylord gadabout’s story was something of a Bollywood fantasy script. At long last, he had been selected as one of the eight finalists of a magazine’s talent contest in 1965. His first batch of films ranged from the whodunit Raaz (which also introduced Babita), Aakhri Khat (a black-and-white film in which the focus was more on a lost little boy), Aurat (a potboiler
from Chennai) and Baharon Ke Sapne (glam director Nasir Husain’s attempt to go realistic in vain).
Rajesh Khanna was a loser. Till Aradhana (1969) altered his life absolutely. Followed a series of major hits — Do Raaste, Bandhan, Anand, Namak Haraam and Amar Prem. He could do no wrong. Even the unconventional Ittefaq, with a minimal number of characters, was a winner, leading to his long-time association with Yash Chopra. In fact, today’s reigning film production banner Yash Raj is believed to have been a combo of the names of the director’s and Raj-esh.
The first unquestionably “wow” performance was that of the eponymous Anand, the terminally ill young man (partially inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru). His death scene, with “Babu moshai”, Amitabh Bachchan, by his bedside is one of the most movingly written and acted scenes in Hindi cinema. It seems the two sparred over who should “die” in Namak Haraam. Rajesh Khanna did, after all he was a more powerful star then. Oddly enough, Rajesh Khanna excelled in death scenes, the other examples being Safar and Khamoshi.
Kaka’s private life was fodder for endless gossip. Anju Mahendru, his long-time girlfriend, was suddenly out with his overnight marriage to Dimple Kapadia, still in her teens. The actor, however, wasn’t making new friends, losing many of them it is said because of his mood swings and arrogance. Shakti Samanta and he parted ways. Yash Chopra moved on to the next big super-actor freshly arrived on the scene, Amitabh Bachchan. Anger was in, romance was out.
Once in Guddi, Dharmendra had said wistfully to Jaya Bhaduri, “Everyone wants Rajesh Khanna… so why me?” As it happened, the superstardom passed on to Guddi’s real-life husband Amitabh Bachchan who was just what Rajesh Khanna wasn’t: tall, swarthy and possessed of a baritone voice.
I met Rajesh Khanna on the sets of Dhanwan, when he was just about doing okay in the showdom. A rookie reporter, told about his mood swings, I wasn’t disappointed. Before I could ask the first question, he played a drum beat on the table between us. It could have been for two minutes but felt like 20. A year later I saw his other side: super-affable and chatty. “As long as you don’t ask about my early days, I’m fine,” he grinned, ordering a virtual bakery of cakes to go with a cup of tea.
Whenever I asked Dimple Kapadia about him, she didn’t have a harsh word to say about their collapsed marriage. “He’s an incredibly nice guy,” she has said repeatedly. “I was just too young to get married. And maybe it was my fault that we couldn’t make it work.”
The last time I met Kaka was on a Mumbai-Delhi air flight. We made polite conversation. He said, “I hope you didn’t review my last film (Wafaa),” and laughed. “We must meet up but promise me we won’t go into those good or bad old days. Jo ho gaya so ho gaya.”

The writer is a journalist, film critic and film director

 

Published in :

http://www.asianage.com/bollywood/achcha-toh-hum-chalte-hain-096?nocache=1#comment-46748

 

Super Star Rajesh Khanna: The Death of Romance

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 3, 2013 by manoharv2009

Rajesh Khanna: The Death of RomanceImage

Last updated on: July 19, 2012 10:54 IST
Rajesh Khanna’s demise marks the passing of a gentler, more romantic era. For today’s generation, bred on cinematic blood, gore and violence, it sounds a warning bell, says Sheela Bhatt.It was not just the prince of romance who died yesterday.Many of us who are in their late forties and fifties today mourn the passing of an iconic superstar, but we are not prepared to write his obituary. You don’t put a full-stop to your romantic past.

Those of you who flock to see Singham may not appreciate the beautiful emotions that flooded our hearts when we saw a blushing Sharmila Tagore at the window of a moving train, stealing coy glances at a debonair Rajesh Khanna, driving alongside leisurely in a jeep. The fact that he was singing Mere sapno ki rani kab aayegi tu, with an irresistible smile and that unforgettable twinkle in his eye, only made our hearts beat faster.

If you who were in college in the seventies, and had happily bunked class to watch, or re-watch, the latest Rajesh Khanna blockbuster, you will know exactly what I mean.

To enter the theatre to watch a Rajesh Khanna film was to enter an incredibly romantic world. As we sat in the dark and saw him tell Sharmila in Amar Prem, “Pushpa, mujhse yeh aansu nahin dekhe jate hai. I hate tears,” our eyes would moisten, and our heartbeats would quicken.

So many of us wanted to marry him.

There were frequent reports in the newspapers of teenagers writing letters to Rajesh Khanna with their blood and not knowing how to send it across.

That hero, who walked in so easily into our tender young hearts from the large screen of the movie theatre was so romantic, so fulsome and so ‘dreamy’ that leaving that illusory world to return to reality was invariably depressing.

Millions of lovelorn hearts shattered across India when the superstar married Dimple Kapadia but, in a strange way, it reinforced our impression of Rajesh Khanna as the ultimate romantic. We continued to hide his photograph from Andaz in our text books.

That one picture carried such magic that our youthful lives got a well-deserved break from the problems that were part and parcel of becoming an adult. Three cheers to that photo, where Rajesh Khanna peeped over his sunglasses with a mischievous smile on his lips and romance in his eyes. None of us were able to resist him.

Rajesh Khanna was born to woo women!

In today’s world, where films like Shanghai rule, it is difficult to explain the innocence that was woven into the romance of Hindi films then. Tragically, innocence has become an abuse now.

For those of us who lived through the Rajesh Khanna era, it is astounding to see teenagers drooling over the bloody, gory violence displayed in the new genre of Hindi films. At their age, we were thrilled to see Rajesh Khanna flirt with Sharmila Tagore or Hema Malini or Mumtaz.

I recently saw the movie Gangs of Wasseypur at the PVR cinema in Saket, New Delhi. The audience, which was overwhelmingly young, was cheering and applauding the dialogues, which were outright anti-women and full of ethnic abuses.

In the early part of the film, a powerful politician ridicules a weaker character and the watching public applauds his abusive statements. The humiliation of the weak did not seem to touch a discordant chord in the viewer.

My generation is a product of the Rajesh Khanna era. We don’t applaud the ‘jungle raj‘ even though it exists around us.

Violence is, admittedly a part of human nature, but how can it be cool or sexy or normal in the way that is depicted in recent Hindi films that have grossed Rs 100 crore and more?

How can you appreciate abuses that demean your mother and sister?

Our heart and souls ached when, as youngsters, we saw Rajesh Khanna’s heart-breaking dependence on Waheeda Rahman in Khamoshi or Sharmila Tagore’s silent agony, caused by her love for Rajesh Khanna, in Safar.

For someone used to that kind of cinema, it was stunning to see Gangs of Wasseypur. The intelligent but cunning use of violence in the film is frightening. How can you package violence for mass exhibition and make it appealing enough to earn applause in darkened theatres?

I do agree that the excess of sweet nothings that personified the romantic era of Hindi films needed a strong dose of realism. That is why it did not come as a surprise when the angry young man, in the form of Amitabh Bachchan, arose to combat the excessive romanticism that Rajesh Khanna excelled in.

In some corner of Mumbai, the writer duo of Javed Akhtar and Salim Khan must have hated Hindi cinema’s unreal world of romance; they plotted their revenge by creating Inspector Vijay.

As India changed, corruption increased; the black money-backed economy flourished and the chasm between the poor and rich became deeper and wider than ever before. Injustice and suffering increased as wealth was increasingly concentrated in a few hands.

Sooner or later, this angst was going to be reflected in the movies.

But today’s genre of Hindi films package violence, cynicism and unreal depiction of realism under the garb of realism. A very dabbang ploy to make money; a bilkul rowdy act, I’d say!

The overtly sexy, earthy and tight scripts of the new Gangs of Bollywood are nothing but a ploy to mint crores through excellent marketing of violence.

If you watch Shanghai, Gangs of Wasseypur and other films in this genre, you will become insensitive to violence. You will stop feeling stunned at the emotions, or greed, that leads us to kill fellow humans. Instead, when someone is killed, you will clap.

In the Rajesh Khanna era, you saw films for the sheer joy of romance. If you wanted a dose of reality, you saw films by Shyam Benegal or regional films made by regional geniuses in a similar genre. That is how you understood violence and understood how to hate it.

But in Delhi’s popular PVR theatre, the young crowd was applauding the blood and the violent language that assaulted them from the screen.

In a land that boasts of an epic romance like Kalidas’s Meghdoot, sensual, subtle romance does not come as a surprise.

When you are young, when your heart and mind are tender and you look forward to the beautiful unfolding of your life, why would you want to see a gruesome scene where a havaldar (policeman) goes to the town dumpyard to find the fingers of a murdered man?

The havaldar lifts the human fingers but is not allowed to collect it as evidence by the local mafia leader. When your bones are yet to acquire critical mass, why see so much blood, folks?

Nobody is arguing that realism, and the depiction of India’s unsavoury underbelly, should not be recorded in the movies at a time when the country is proving itself insensitive to injustice, poverty and exploitation of all kinds of minorities. But don’t let this new breed of marketeers make a fool of you by selling violence of the mafia and the buffoonery of dabbangs in exchange for a ticket that costs anywhere between Rs 300-Rs 500!

Who doesn’t need the romance of Amar Prem, or the celebration of eternal life seen in Anand?

Let’s bring back the Rajesh Khanna era; please, don’t write his obituary just yet!

Sheela Bhatt

Published by :

http://www.rediff.com/movies/column/rajesh-khanna-death-of-romance/20120719.htm

The Kaka (Super Star Rajesh Khanna) – Pheeko connection

Posted in Uncategorized on July 3, 2013 by manoharv2009

The Kaka – Pheeko connection

 

By Achal Rangaswamy

 

 

 

Mohd Rafi Sahab and Rakesh Khanna

Mohd Rafi Sahab and Rakesh Khanna

 

A slim, almost impoverished looking young man, albeit with a twinkle in his eye and a charming smile, wooed his lesser known heroine in a low-budget film. The film would go on to be sent to various film festivals, become known as the first film in which Bhupendra sang a solo, but most people would not remember it as the first film in which the winner of a major talent hunt would be playing the hero.

 

Jatin Khanna, now rechristened as Rajesh Khanna wooed Chand Usmani, who would later go on to play either sister to heroes in B grade films or maybe the mujre wali in B- grade films. But the song that was chosen for this occasion was hauntingly beautiful.  The hero urges the lady to stay on, by singing “ aur kuchh der thaher aur kuchh der na ja….”. The song was rendered flawlessly.

 

The film was Aakhri Khat. And thus began the less talked about but rather interesting relationship between someone who was to go on to become The Phenomenon and someone who was already being worshipped as the greatest male playback singer in Hindi Film Music history.

Rajesh Khanna, the man who went on to deliver 15 super duper hits in a row in a span of 3 years, would most certainly have attributed his meteoric success to  his own acting prowess, his own style of dancing, his innovative dialogue delivery and those mannerisms that only he could carry off with aplomb. But he definitely knew as did music director Rahul Dev Burman that there was another person responsible for this huge success- the mercurial Kishore Kumar. The two struck up such a chord that the whole country hummed their successful song after successful song.

 

Whether it was Amar Prem, or Kati Patang, or Mere Jeevan Saathi, it was Kishore Kumar singing for  Rajesh Khanna, all the way. Well, almost.  Because the more discerning and more impartial observer would have something else to say.

 

That there was a voice that also suited this new hero very well. And that voice was Mohammed Rafi’s.  And that this great singer also most definitely enhanced the superstar’s career and popularity with his great rendering of solos and duets for the actor who had taken the film world by storm.

 

Aakhri Khat was followed by Raaz and the melodiously haunting Akele Hain Chaley Aao had Rajesh Khanna year for Babita’s company. The song used to play late at nights on transistors across the barsaatis in New Delhi where I was growing up. I used to go to sleep listening to this song on so many nights.

 

Aaradhana was the watershed moment in Hindi film song history. Everybody knows that R D Burman had his way when an ailing father Sachin Dev asked him to step in and complete the musical score for the film. The fact that two songs- Gunguna rahein hain bhanvre and Baaghon mein bahaar hai had already been recorded in Rafi Saab’s voice meant nothing to RDB who went on to record the chartbusting Roop Tera Mastana and the almost equally successful  Kora kaagaz thaa yeh man mera.  But music lovers will always maintain that each song was worth its weight in gold, and no song was less than the other, since the mood was different in each one of them.

 

RDB continued to sideline Rafi Saab, who only a few years back had delivered thundering and thundering hit in the Shammi Kapoor  grosser Teesri  Manzil  and the musical Pyaar Ka Mausam for Shashi Kapoor.

 

But coming back to Rajesh Khanna. He almost made sure there was no trace of Rafi in Kati Patang or Amar Prem, both  films made famous by their  very popular  songs.  But Rajesh Khanna couldn’t have ignored the strong presence of  Rafi Saab and his powerful voice in the romantic musical Mehbood Ki Mehndi.  Whether rendering Yeh Jo Chilman Hai or playing the male voice in the duet Itna toh yaad hai mujhe, Rafi Saab made a great impact and Rajesh Khanna would definitely have agreed that the male voice added to make the film a bit more memorable.  The song Pasand aa gayi hai ek kafir haseena was perfectly designed for this actor.

 

Haathi mere Saathi had quite a few Kishore numbers , but listeners would always root for Nafrat ki duniya ko chhodke pyaar ki duniya mein as the true heart stopper in the film. Pathos laden and sung truly from the heart, the song left many viewers of the film in tears as they trooped out after the last scene where the loyal elephant gives its life to protect its owner’s child.

 

Chhoti Bahu had Kishore draw applause for He Re Kanhaiya, but Rafi Saab stole the show with Yeh Raat hai pyaasi pyaasi. One of the most romantic songs composed for him by the Kalyanji-Anandji duo.

 

Only a few months before this had Rafi Saab team up with Lata Mangeshkar to deliver the foot tapping Yun hi tum mujhse baat karti ho in the film Sachha Jhoota where Kishore had already got the masses and bands belting out Meri Pyaari Behaniya.

 

Do Raaste was perhaps Lata Mangeshkar’s playground thanks to Bindiya Chamkegi, but the endearing and awesomely song of praise Yeh Reshmi Zulfein Yeh sharbati Aankhen was to prove once again that Rafi Saab’s voice was no less suitable for the fast rising star on the Indian Film Screen horizon. He teamed up again with Lata to give a song that youngsters those days, and I remember those days very clearly, would sing at every Antaakshari–  Chhup Gaye Saare Nazaare Oye kya baat ho gayi. I always used to admire the way the lines teri chunari leharaai barsaat ho gayi, with special emphasis on the word Barsaat !

 

In between a mock drunken scene by Rajesh Khanna to tease Babita in Doli had the Asha-Rafi duet Sajna Saath Nibhaana where Rafi Saab beautifully rendered the lines Kisne Saath Nibhaaya, dil ko ek khilona samjha , khela aur thukraaya.

 

The songs he sang for Rajesh Khanna were not few and far between. It was just that the hero was doing a large number of films, practically spending his entire day on one set or the other. And most of his films were full of great music and tuneful melodies.  And there was no doubt that he always had a soft corner for Kishore Kumar. Maybe he was superstitious and thought that the singer brought him luck.

 

I wouldn’t be surprised that the singer himself may not have been thinking the same way, that the actor had brought him luck and had actually revived his temporarily sagging career.

 

Kishore Kumar may have sought Lata’s permission to meet again in Aan Milo Sajna with Accha toh Hum Chalte Hain, but the birthday song and the ultimate gift was brought by Rafi Saab in the form of Koi Nazarana lekar aaya hoon man deewana tere liye. A truly gifted song. Not to be left behind with just one solo, Rafi Saab sang the title song, Ab Aan milo sajna with Lataji, a terrific dance number in true J Om Prakash style and size.

 

And who can forget the  way The Train starts- with Gulaabi Aankhen with Rajesh wooing Nanda right from the first frame of the film. Incidentally another RDB hit. I always wondered why RDB never thought much of Rafi Saab. Strange when you listen to the truly romantic Mujhse bhala yeh kaajal tera….nee soniye.

 

By the time we complete the list of songs Rafi Saab sang for the superstar it becomes evident. The quantity factor may have weighed heavily in favour of KK, but there was no dearth of quality in the numbers Rafi Saab rendered.

 

Even the Churiyan chal teir matwali chal pe from Dharam Kanta or the songs he sang in Shehzada  or  Humshakal were hummable.  KK may have got the more musical hum tum gumsum raat Milan ki, but Rafi Saab did great justice to Kahe ko bulaaya, where he playfully handles the lines Radha ne yehi poocha thaa ek din roothkar shyam se, marvelous rendering.

 

Anand babu, Avinash, Flt lt Arun, Anand Sehgal the cancer patient, Raju the circus owner, all these characters charmed us to tears and laughter and appreciation. But the man who was the heartthrob of millions is no more.

 

He must be sitting upstairs there with his two voices.  And they must be laughing together saying- wahaan neeche log ladte rahenge ke kisne zyaada achha gaaya. Humne toh khoob mazaa liya.

 

And I am sure that RK and KK would have coaxed and cajoled Rafi Saab to sing another romantic song, even if it was from a forgettable film- and  Rafi Saab would have smiled and obliged with Ek Khoobsurat Ladki mujhe raat ko mili thi……….ending the song with the soft soft lines Woh so rahi thi….Hai !!!!!

 

RIP Mr Khanna. You were truly the phenomenon.

 

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The Kaka – Pheeko connection