“Mai to kuchh bhi nahi… izzate shohrate chaahate ulfate… koi bhi cheez duniya me rahti nahi… aaj mai hu jahaa kal koi aur tha… ye bhi ik daur hai… wo bhi ik daur tha …”
These were, perhaps, the last words of India’s original and first superstar Rajesh Khanna amidst lusty cheers from his co-stars of yesteryear and at least the two generations that zipped past his genre of film stars at the star-studded Apsara Awards function in March 2012.
Dilip Kumar, Saira Banu, Jaya Bacchan, Yash Chopra, Manoj Kumar, Hemamalini, Vaiajayanthi Mala Bali, Shabana Azmi, Waheeda Rehman, and the present-day film personalities graced the function.
Claps from the entire flock of Bollywood rent the air in the auditorium filling Rajesh Khanna’s heart with joy to its brim. Khanna recalled the poetic verse from Daag, a movie he enacted.
When he breathed his last on Wednesday afternoon at his Bandra residence in Mumbai, ‘ashirvad’, the myriad fans of the romantic hero of the yesteryear recalled his most famous dialogues and songs in his several hit movies. Anand, Amar Prem, Aradhana, and so on…There are 163 movies he enacted in his career, of which 106 were as a hero. He owns the record of 15 successive solo movies being big hits at the box office.
He was envied by the young men of India when he married the gorgeous Dimple Kapadia.
The superstar succumbed to kidney problem. He was ailing for quite a few months and was on ventilator support when the end came. His son-in-law Akshay Kumar, who married Twinkle Khanna, rushed to Mumbai cancelling his shooting schedules abroad. Born on December 29, 1942 in Amritsar, Jatin Khanna was christened as Rajesh Khanna when he entered the filmy firmament.
Khanna debuted on the celluloid in 1966 with the film Aakhri Khat. His career reached a crescendo with great blockbusters like Aradhana, Amar Prem, Kati Patang, Khamoshi, Raaz, Baharon Ke Sapne, and Ittefaq.
The romantic hero, who has two daughters – Twinkle and Rinky – separated with his wife, Dimple, in 1984, after 11 years of marriage.
He had a brush with politics too. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1992 byelections, caused due to the resignation of Lal Kishan Advani, who was elected in the mid-term elections in 1991 to the Lok Sabha from New Delhi constituency.
In fact, Khanna was propped and pitted against Advani by the late Rajiv Gandhi to send across a message to Amitabh Bacchan, who fell apart with Gandhi following the Bofors scandal. Khanna lost narrowly, but sought a re-election when the New Delhi seat fell vacant following the resignation of Advani. He defeated the BJP star contestant Shatrughan Sinha.
He made full use of the opportunity to endear himself, politically though, to his electors, crooning all the way throughout his tenure Pyaar kii galiyaa, baagon kii kaliyaan…Sab rangaraliyaan puuchh raheen hain; Geet panaghat pe kis din gaayegee tuu
He dabbled with politics for quite a few years and expected that the Congress would nominate him for the Rajya Sabha. He shared this piece of information with senior journalists in Delhi too.
He fought his ailment with grit when his own dialogues of Safar echoed in his own ears — “Main marne se pehle marna nahin chahta” and “Yeh toh main hi jaanta hoon ki zindagi ke aakhri moor par kitna andhera hai” .
Compared to most stars of the Mumbai tinsel town, his life was short. Yet, we remember him again with his own words in Anand: “Aye Babu Moshaye….zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahi !”