Remembering Rajesh Khanna, India’s First Superstar On His Birthday


Seventy seven years back on December 29, 1942, a baby boy, Jatin Arora was born in Amritsar, Punjab. Jatin Arora was renamed Jatin Khanna when he was adopted by Chunnilal and Leelavati. In 1965, he won the United Producers All India Contest prevailing over 10000 competitors. The prize was a chance to become a hero in the intensely competitive Hindi film industry. His illustrious predecessors were Dilip Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor and Raj Kapoor. Unbelievably, he overtook them in terms of popularity and adulation, as also in the number of hits. He is none other than superstar Rajesh Khanna.

Kaka’s Hit Movies

Rajesh Khanna was lovingly called Kaka by all due to his baby face. He had as many as 74 Golden Jubilee hits, 22 Silver Jubilee hits as well as nine average hits, totaling an astonishing 105. Kaka had the maximum number of solo hero films in the history of Hindi films. He hardly acted in multi-hero movies. In three years,  from 1969 to 1971, he had as many as 17 consecutive super hit movies, an unparalleled feat not repeated thereafter.

Astonishing mega superstar indeed.

Kaka and His Top Heroine

His top heroine was Mumtaz. They had as many as 10 movies together out of which as many as eight were super-duper Platinum Jubilee hits. “Gore rang pe na” is their most famous song together.  Mumtaz, herself a cancer survivor,  said that she met Kaka when he was ailing and they discussed their fight against the dreaded disease. Of her memories of Kaka, she recalled him carrying her on snow in the movie “Roti”. She used to joke with him saying he had to carry a 100 kg sack on his shoulders for a week. The gallant Kaka had replied that she was not that heavy, though Mumtaz laughingly says she was never slim.

Kaka’s Other Three Top Heroines

Sharmila Tagore comes to mind. Can anyone ever forget “Roop tera mastana”, the iconic song from the movie Aradhana, which got Sharmila her one and only Best Actress award. The other movie of the loved duo, which deserves mention is Amar Prem, which had Kaka’s most famous dialogue, “Pushpa, I hate tears.” Kaka and Asha Parekh too were a top pair and the songs, “Yeh sham mastani” and “Achcha toh hum chalte hain” come to mind immediately. The third top heroine I would like to pick is Zeenat Aman, and the top two Kaka-Zeenat songs for me are “Hum dono do premi” and “Ik ajnabee haseena se”.

Kaka And His Two Controversial Relationships

Kaka’s first girlfriend was Anju Mahendru, who has been linked with the legendary Sir Gary Sobers as well. However, he broke off with her all of a sudden and reportedly to spite her, took his baraat past her bungalow when he married Dimple. The next relationship was with Dimple whom many say, he married on the rebound. Interestingly, he had purchased a bungalow called Dimple from Rajendra Kumar and had renamed it Aashirwad. Later, he was to marry someone named Dimple. They got separated in the 80s.

Both of them were by his side when he was breathing his last.

Kaka And Kishore Kumar

The duo were made for each other. Kishore Kumar, who was the highest paid singer even had a special clause in his contract that if he is signed for a Rajesh Khanna movie, he has to sing his songs, and if there are two heroes in the movie, he only will be Rajesh Khanna’s voice. Kaka himself used to say, “Kishore Kumar was the soul and I was the body”. Ironically, Shakti Samanta had wanted Rafi Saab to sing Roop Tera Mastana but SD Burman prevailed upon him to give the song to Kishore Kumar. Since SD fell ill, RD completed the song. The rest is history.

Amitabh Bachchan On Kaka

Superstar Amitabh Bachchan tweeted “the word superstar was invented for him, and for me, it shall ever remain his, and none other’s. His generation and the generations that follow, shall never be able to describe or understand his phenomena”.

Unbelievable Examples of the Phenomenon

The kind of craze he invoked and the adulation he received was amazing. Girls used to marry his photograph by cutting their fingers and applying the blood as sindoor. His car was covered with kisses from lipstick, female fans sent him letters written in blood and so on. The trend of wearing Guru shirts and belt on shirts was started by him. The ending of a movie in which the character he was playing had to die, was changed on public demand  because people could not bear to see him dying. A song sequence under Howrah Bridge was cancelled as it was feared that so many fans would come to see him that the bridge itself would collapse. All this is unprecedented.

Kaka’s Death 

To the dismay of all, cancer took Kaka away on July 18, 2012. Nine lakh people attended his funeral and came from various places in India and abroad. As in his heydays, there was lathi charge to disperse the crowd. Amitabh Bachchan later said that among his last words were “Its time, lets pack up

Hey, wait a minute. Has Kaka left us? No, it is his birthday today. Let us celebrate it. He is with us and will remain with us. He is immortal.

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