Bollywood’s original Superstar: Rajesh Khanna

Born on 29th December 1942, Rajesh Khanna has been the most dynamic and spectacular superstar of the decade. From 1969 to 1972, the Rajesh Khanna phenomenon swept Bollywood off its feet and the hysteria he generated was unlike anything is seen before and after. He was famously known as ‘Kaka’ in the industry. Here are some interesting facts about his life:

Jatin Khanna was born in Amritsar and was adopted and raised by foster parents in Girgaon, Mumbai. He changed his first name to ‘Rajesh’ on entering films. He was a rare newcomer who struggled in his own MG sports car to get work in theatre and films

Rajesh Khanna Very Young HR BW
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

Rajesh Khanna was one of eight finalists in 1965 All India Talent Contest organized by United Producers and Filmfare from more than ten thousand contestants. He finally won the contest and made his debut with films Aakhri Khat (1966) and Raaz (1967)

Rajesh Khanna Rare
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

He created havoc at the box office in 1969 with 2 Golden Jubilee Hits - Aradhana and Do Raaste. What's more, in Bombay, the two films had their main theatres right across the road from one another, Aradhana at Opera House and Do Raaste at Roxy

Aap Ki Kasam Rajesh Khanna
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

With a string of hits in 1970-71 like The Train, Safar, Kati Patang, Haathi Mere Saathi and Anand, the media started calling Rajesh Khanna ‘a phenomenon’ of the generation. Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s “Anand” till date is among his greatest ever performance. Rajesh Khanna had 15 consecutive solo superhits between 1969 to 1972, which is still an unbroken record in the Indian film industry

Rajesh Khanna Rare
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

He assumed a legendary status drawing a huge crowd in public places. Female fans sent him letters written in their own blood. There used to be a line of cars of his producers and crazy fans outside his bungalow every day. He formed one of the most successful romantic pairs with Sharmila Tagore and Mumtaz then and shared terrific chemistry with them

Rajesh Khanna Mumtaz
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

He married Dimple Kapadia, who was half his age in March 1973. This was 8 months before the release of  Raj Kapoor's Bobby, Dimple’s debut film

Rajesh Khanna Dimple Wedding
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

BBC made a film on Kaka, titled Bombay Superstar, in 1974, while a textbook prescribed by the Bombay University contained an essay, 'The Charisma of Rajesh Khanna’!

RAJESH KHANNA
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

Music remained one of the biggest attractions of all Rajesh Khanna films. While Kishore Kumar became ‘his voice’ after ‘Aradhana’, he also shared a very close relationship with R.D.Burman. The trio came together to give some of the most memorable songs of all time

Rajesh Khanna & Asha Parekh
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

Successful films like Daag, Aap Ki Kasam, Namak Haram, Roti, Prem Nagar, and Ajanabee followed along with a few failures. Amitabh Bachchan had stormed the industry with his ‘Angry Young Man Image’. Every hero fell to the Amitabh onslaught and Rajesh Khanna was no exception

Rajesh Khanna Mumtaz Aap Ki Kasam
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

With a stronger focus on action films, Rajesh Khanna's romantic mannerisms started appearing jaded and out of sync. Though he could never regain his earlier glory, he did give hits later like Amardeep, Thodisi Bewafaai, Kudrat, Dhanwan, Avtaar, Souten and Amrit

Rajesh Khanna Rare4
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

He joined politics in 1991 and did films and television intermittently. Though separated years ago, Rajesh Khanna and Dimple never divorced. He fell sick in 2011 and after battling prolonged illness, passed away on 18th July 2012. His wife Dimple and both daughters were around him during his last days

Rajesh Khanna & Dimple Kapadia
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

The entire industry stormed his landmark bungalow Aashirwad to pay their last respects. Time seemed to have rewound to the early 1970s as thousands of his fans braved the heavy rains and joined his funeral procession to give a fitting farewell to “The Original Superstar”

Rajesh Khanna Old
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

The kind of craze witnessed by Rajesh Khanna has not been duplicated by anyone in the industry yet. While presenting the lifetime achievement award to Rajesh Khanna at the IIFA awards (2009), Amitabh Bachchan had rightly said that "The word superstar in the Indian film industry was for the first time coined for Rajesh Khanna”

Rajesh Khanna Amitabh Bachchan HR Young
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo

Apart from the Lifetime Achievement award, Kaka has received various other awards for best performances for the films Sachaa Jhutha, Anand, Avishikaar

Rajesh Khanna Rare6
Image Courtesy:
Shemaroo