Super Star Rajesh Khanna's Birthday on 29th December - The only & real Super Star of Indian Cinema till date
Super Star Rajesh Khanna's Birthday on 29th December. The Greatest Living Legend & the real only Super Star of Indian Cinema till today.
No rise or fall of a star has been as been quite as dramatic or spectacular as that of Rajesh Khanna. From 1969 to 1972, the Rajesh Khanna phenomenon swept Bollywood off its feet and the hysteria he generated was unlike anything seen before and after. As hit followed hit and women all over the country swooned over him, Rajesh Khanna admitted feeling 'next to God.' In fact, Rajesh Khanna could perhaps be called Hindi Cinema's first superstar. And yet in one of life's greatest ironies just 5 years later by 1977, his career was in shambles as film after film began failing at the box office. As he fell to the 'angry young man' onslaught of Amitabh Bachchan and found himself totally rejected by filmgoers it is said he went to his terrace in heavy rain asking God not to test his patience...
Born Jatin Khanna, he was the adopted son of his parents. After a stint in theatre, he was selected by the United Producers' Talent Contest. He made his film debut in Chetan Anand's Aakhri Khat (1966). His earlier films however did nothing for him till Aradhana (1969) came along.
Released in November 1969, Aradhana made Rajesh Khanna a star. In the double role of a father and son, both air force pilots, Khanna cut a most dashing figure in uniform. His mannerisms - the crinkling of his eyes and shake of the head asking the heroine to come to him found instant favour with the audience and aided by such S.D. Burman ditties as Mere Sapnon ki Rani, Kora Kaagaz Tha Yeh Man Mera, Roop Tera Mastana, Gun Guna Rahe Hain Bhawarein and Baaghon Mein Bahar Hai, Aradhana was a golden jubilee hit. Barely a short while later in December the same year, Raj Khosla's Do Raaste opened to full houses and also went on to be a golden jubilee hit. 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!
Thereafter till 1972, it looked like Rajesh Khanna could do no wrong. Film after film swept the box-office. But there was more to him than just his mannerisms as he built the image of a vulnerable, gentle romantic. In films like Khamoshi (1969), Safar (1970) and Anand (1970), he came up with sensitive performances straight from the heart. Anand saw perhaps his greatest ever performance as a man stricken with cancer but wanting to live life to the fullest before he dies. In Anand, Rajesh Khanna more than justified Frank Capra's immortal observation,
"Tragedy is not when actors cry. Tragedy is when audiences cry."
Indeed at the end of Anand as Amitabh sits by Khanna's dead body and as the tape recorder plays Khanna's voice, you cannot help but cry along with Amitabh.
As Khanna went from strength to strength, even a guest appearance in Andaaz (1971) generated more hysteria than the hero of the film Shammi Kapoor. In fact symbolically this represented the end of the Shammi Kapoor era and the peak of the Rajesh Khanna era. Though Khanna worked with top heroines of the day like Waheeda Rehman, Nanda, Mala Sinha, Tanuja and Hema Malini, his most popular pairings were with Sharmila Tagore and Mumtaz. The BBC made a film on him, Bombay Superstar, and a textbook prescribed by the Bombay University contained an essay, 'The Charisma of Rajesh Khanna!'
Rajesh Khanna formed a brilliant combination with director Shakti Samanta, Music Director R.D. Burman and 'his voice', singer Kishore Kumar resulting in such films like Kati Patang (1970) and Amar Prem (1971). With Hrishikesh Mukherjee, he gave fine performances in Bawarchi (1972) and Namak Haram (1973) ably carrying both films on his shoulders. The same year (1973) also saw him score with a strong performance in Aavishkaar, Basu Bhattacharya's realistic study of a marriage gone sour.
By this time however, Rajesh Khanna's films had started flopping but he failed to see the writing on the wall as the success of films like Daag (1973), Namak Haram, Aap ki Kasam (1974), Prem Nagar (1974) and Roti (1974) still kept him afloat. Also Amitabh Bachchan had stormed the Industry with his intense 'angry young man' performance in Zanjeer (1973). With his tall and lean looks, Amitabh became emblematic of the new kind of action hero. Every hero fell to the Amitabh onslaught and Rajesh Khanna was no exception. He tried to stay in the news however with a sensational marriage to the 'Bobby Girl', Dimple Kapadia who at 16 was 15 years younger than him!
With Amitabh's success, different kind of movies began to be made with a stronger accent on action. Rajesh Khanna's romantic mannerisms now appeared jaded and out of synchronization with the times. Even films with old regulars Shakti Samanta (Ajnabi (1974), Mehbooba (1976), Anurodh (1977)) and Hrishida (Naukri (1978)) came unstuck at the box-office. What's more both Shakti Samanta and Hrishida went on do a series of films with the new superstar, Amitabh Bachchan! And to top it all, even his marriage to Dimple was on the rocks and subsequently she left him and resumed her acting career with much success.
Though Amardeep (1979) and Thodisi Bewafayi (1980) brought Rajesh Khanna some reprieve, it was the triple success of Agar Tum Na Hote (1983), Avtaar (1983) and Souten (1983) that proved to be the last strong flickers in a dying flame. Avtaar particularly saw a good performance from him in the role of a self-respecting garage mechanic.
In the 1990s with his film career all but over, Rajesh Khanna entered politics and even served a stint as Member of Parliament with the Congress - I Party. He made an undistinguished comeback of sorts in Rishi Kapoor's Aa Ab Laut Chalein (1999) and is now all set to make his debut on Television with the serial Batwara.