My own views. In my own words. Without shame, fear or guilt.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
In his death too , Rajesh Khanna epitomised the aura of a Superstar, whatever the term means . His life and times represented a story which by itself is straight out of the tinsel town of Bollywood of which we associate him. Looking back one would wonder how a young man coming from a middleclass family without the gift of smashing good looks or a great physique captivated the hearts of millions in such a short span and then how from the heights of adulation he faded away into the oblivion of a recluse. Such was his saga .
He deserves all the eulogies showered on him , all the praise and all the mention of his golden days. He was a craze, he was a gale. He was something which was never experienced before. He was a first pan Indian heartthrob. Girls from Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and Madras were all his fans . And surprisingly the males were never jealous of him. They tried to copy him and his style of romance.
Rajesh Khanna epitomised the success, the heartbreak, the frustration, the hysteria and the elusive quality of hypnotic presence of an entertainer. With his crinkled eyes, killing smile and slight nod accompanied by the movement of hands, he gave a new meaning to romance . Alas, these became his mannerisms and he could never come out from this. Probably he never wanted to. Before him stars like Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand had carved out their niche and were great matinee idols. But Rajesh Khanna unleashed the wave of mass hysteria which was never seen, hitherto in the history of Indian films. He came and conquered everything which came on his way with the charm and elan of a consummate magician.
My first experience of Rajesh Khanna was with the film Haathi Mere Saathi when I was too young to understand the power of star value. But I still remember him as the first real hero who made me laugh and also cry. Later as I grew up and saw many of his films, I learnt the nuances of romance as emoted by him on screen and acknowledged the adulation showered on him especially by the females. Ask any lady aged between 50 and 65. They will surely tell you that it was the shy smile which robbed their hearts .
His personal life was a matter of great speculation, gossip and fodder for discussion not only within his fraternity but also among the public in general. If anybody cares to remember the movie Anuraag had a two reeler before its screening which showed his marriage ceremony with Dimple Kapadia. In those days when TV was almost non existent, it was the first peep for many into the life of a celebrity and it was almost the Indian equivalent of the marriage of Princess Anne of England. His style of wearing Kurtas shortened became a rage as “Guru Kurtas” and will always be associated with his persona.
During his short but sweet rule over Bollywood, Rajesh Khanna rewrote the rules of stardom and changed the way people looked at film actors. He was a the people's choice, not for his acting, not for his height, not for his voice, not for his muscles, not for his good looks but for something which cannot be defined . Probably he himself was never fully aware of the responsibilities which fate bestowed upon him and never fully justified the mass adulation showered on him . Deep inside he was somewhat a loner, I think. Locked in the towers of his ego, he enjoyed his glory and suffered his anguish and insecurity. His contribution to cinema may not have been great in terms of greatness but his stamp on the Indian entertainment scene is indelible.
His death is no doubt a loss but it has relieved him from the suffering. In a way it was welcome. May his soul rest in peace. The eternal romantic soul will live on .
There will probably never be another phenomenon like him .