Rajesh Khanna – Even Superstars Have to GoBy Lavina Melwani • Jul 23rd, 2012 • Category: Cinema
Rajesh Khanna: The Passing of The Phenomenon
(Photos: Vijay Shah http://www.facebook.com/FreelanceUSMedia)
He was India’s first big superstar, the one for whom that title had been virtually created. In fact, with his stylish mannerisms and his heart-stealing smile, he had gone where no other major Indian movie star had gone before. Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand had fans – but Rajesh Khanna had fevered followers. His female fans were legion and there was a new word invented especially for him – ‘The Phenomenon’. Women, it is said, married his photograph, applying sindoor of their blood to their foreheads. His romantic eyes, his matchless smile did something insane to them. In many films like ‘Amar Prem’ and ‘Kati Patang’ he was almost a social reformer, taking on the cause of the prostitute or the widow – but in an intense, personal way.
Born Jatin Arora, an ordinary young man evolved into the Phenomenon. Rajesh Khanna acted in over 163 films, was nominated for Filmfare Awards 14 times, winning it three times. Over 35 of his films were Golden Jubilee hits and fans still remember the hugely romantic scenes from films like ‘Aradhana’ and ‘Kati Patang’. And who can forget ‘Anand’ in which Rajesh Khanna is dying of cancer? The powerful performances by Rajesh – and another lanky newcomer – Amitabh Bachchan – are remembered to this day.
Rajesh Khanna was IT. There was a national buzz when he married 16-year-old newcomer Dimple Kapadia who was making her debut in ‘Bobby’. The fan frenzy was over-powering.
Fame & Its Aftermath
Now as news of his death broke, fans took to the street as if the several decades between his career as Phenomenon and his later, more dismal days away from the limelight, days of ill-health were not years but mere hours. Fans gathered in person and in social media, remembering favorite films, loved-songs and special dialogues. Bollywood fans are blessed with long memories…
For them Rajesh Khanna or ‘Kaka’ as he was affectionately called, was not a person but a symbol of an entire generation, the lover who gave voice to their own hardly articulated love stories. He was their youth, their dreams, their love compacted into song, emotions and beauty in the darkness of the cinema theater. What did they think as they saw Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore in ‘Aradhana’ as the flames jumped higher and higher, and the volatile night stretched ahead?
Rajesh Khanna: When Does the Pact between Actor & Audience End?
And that brings us to the point: when and where does the pact between actor and audience end? Does the connection end as the reels roll off and the screen goes dark or does the audience pursue the actor into the real world? As long as his films brought us joy and happiness in the reel world, do we have to judge his ratings as a husband or father or partner in real life?
In Rajesh Khanna’s final brush with fame as millions mourn his passing, the media is unwrapping many stories about the past, not all of them pretty. In reel life, by the time ‘The End’ comes on screen, everything is neatly tied up just as the director wants. Real life, however, is messy
Below are the links.
Those stories are reality too, but the Rajesh Khanna films you saw, the stories about love and loss from ‘Anand’ to ‘Amar Prem’ – well, that was a reality too, the reality of an alternate universe, the cinema…
Scenes from Rajesh Khanna movies