Rajesh Khanna, my first favorite Bollywood actor, is no more

Rajesh Khanna is no more.

He is said to be the first real Superstar that Bollywood has seen.  The hysteria over him was unprecedented, and probably never seen again.  Even the great Amitabh Bachchan, who started his journey to stardom from movies with Rajesh Khanna, once said:

“I got famous purely because I was working with Rajesh Khanna in ‘Anand’. People asked me questions like, ‘How is he to look at? What does he do?’

Today, he passed away in the presence of his estranged wife Dimple Kapadia, daughters Rinkie and Twinkle, son-in-law Akshay Kumar, grand children and close relatives after a prolonged illness.

He had done 160 films, of which 106 were as solo lead hero and 22 were two hero movies.

The entire Bollywood is abuzz with the passing away of Kaka as Rajesh Khanna was known.  Stars have been tweeting on it.  Some are here:

Shah Rukh Khan: “To live with intention & walk to the edge. Play with abandon, choose with no regret. Smile & made us do the same.Sir,u defined our era.RIP”
Madhur Bhandarkar: The epitome of superstardom is no more amongst us. There was none, there is none & there won’t be any like you kakaji. You will be missed.
Farah Khan: Just hrd the saddest news.the 1st Superstar of india is no more.bt the legend that was Rajesh khanna will live eternally thru his films (sic).
Sonam Kapoor: Rip rajesh khanna.
Bipasha Basu: Loss of a Superstar!Iconic Actor!RIP Rajesh Khanna!
Kunal Kohli: The word SuperStar was used first for Rajesh Khanna.His style.His Ada.His charm.His smile.His songs.His films. He.Will always live on.
Manoj Bajpayee: Nafrat ki duniya ko chod ke pyar ki duniya me khush rahena mere yaar!still remember hathi mere sathi .saw it as a child.we will miss you sir
Anupam Kher: Rajesh Khanna gave us a crash course in Romance. He introduced us to a special twinkle in the eye that made us feel good about ourselves. RIP
Siddharth: Superstar Rajesh Khanna has left us:( so many films, songs and memories…r.i.p sir.
Vishal Dadlani: Hoping that the news of Rajesh Khanna’s passing, is another hoax. If it’s true, we’ve lost India’s first PHENOMENON, a true megastar! RIP!
Shobhaa De: India’s only real Superstar is no more. Rajesh Khanna was and remains ‘The Phenomenon’.
Dia Mirza: “Babumoshai eto bhalo bhasha bhalo na…”Anand, Kati Patang, Bawarchi and many more… What a legacy you’ve left behind. RIP Rajesh Khannaji
Kailash Kher: Jinke Naam par karodon logo ne apne Bacho ke Naam rakhe Rajesh toh ek baat kaio ne khanna tak rakh dala, wt a charisma, God Bless his soul (sic).
Mandira Bedi: Sad to hear Indias 1st Super star, Rajesh Khanna is no more. RIP.
Ayesha Takia Azmi: So beyond sad 2 hear of the passing of Rajesh khanna ji. Let us all pray for his family,so they may get strength.RIP Rajesh Khanna ji.
Manish Malhotra: His iconic stlye:Belts over his kurta collared shirts: scarf around his neck:slip on shoes.
Karan Johar: the magic…the mannerism…the mania of RAJESH KHANNA is inscribed in every archive of indian cinema…forever….RIP SIR!!!

My first favorite

I still remember when I was a kid growing up in times when Amitabh Bachchan had planted himself as the top star.  Most of my movies were from Doordarshan where we would wait until Sunday to watch a movie.  And it was Rajesh Khanna’s movies that would leave me amazed and feeling good.  He was the struggler who used to rejoice sorrow and yet was very charming in a strange way.

His songs would leave one with a sense of romance and pathos which was very endearing.   And his smile was one that almost every actor of that time and beyond has tried to mimic or match.

No one I know in Bollywood who made romance as subtly intense as Rajesh Khanna did.  Unfortunately, by the time I was in school, his charm – on and off screen – had waned from his hey day.  However, people would still talk of him very fondly – in late 70s and 80s.  But by that time the action hero and violence had made its presence felt and was strong.  Subtle romance of yesteryears – which Rajesh Khanna displayed – was all but gone.

It wasn’t until the 90s that one got romance back in the Indian movies with movies like Qayamat se Qayamat tak and Maine Pyar kiya.

Kishore Kumar and Rajesh Khanna

Although Kishore Kumar was the official voice of Rajesh Khanna in most movies, but personally my favorites have been songs sung by Mohd. Rafi for Rajesh Khanna like “Yeh Reshmi Zulfen”.  However, Kishore’s songs – where he wasn’t his comic and mischievous self as Kishore was generally – were really amazing.  Movies like Safar, Kati Patang, Amar Prem, Hathi mere Sathi, Aradhana, Sacha Jhootha, Namak Haram and Aap ki Kasam.

Check out some of it top songs here in this video:

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