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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My memories of Rajesh Khanna

When I logged into Facebook on the morning of Wednesday, the 18th of July, I saw a link to “vaada tera vaada” from one of my friends, saying "RIP, Rajesh Khanna".

I immediately logged onto Twitter – it is my source for latest news (and links to news) around the world. And yes, #RIP Rajesh Khanna was trending as the top item on Twitter for India.

Now I’ve seen hoax RIP hashtags on Twitter before – and there was just this very slight hope within me that this was a hoax – but I knew, deep within myself and with an increasingly sinking feeling, that this was it. This was the end.

I took a deep breath and slowly began reading the tweets and the attached links. They were pouring in  like a tsunami wave – Twitter is known as THE medium for “outrage”,  but that does it great injustice. Outrage is just a show of emotion – and Twitter does emotion brilliantly in 140 characters.

All this while, my heart was sinking. Like most people, I did know that Rajesh was in pretty bad shape. So in a sense, it was not entirely a surprise or a shock. But somewhere within me, there was still the hope that he would get better, that he would be around for some more years. After all, he was just 69 – and that’s young, by today’s standards.

But it was not to be. The man who loved to die in his films because his audience seemed to like his films to end that way, decided it was time for real life to imitate reel life just this one last time.

Memories of Rajesh movies, memories of Rajesh songs began flooding my mind.  I immediately went to youtube to watch some of his songs. Not his most famous songs, but some songs that I personally like watching again and again. 

Where Rajesh stands out, in my opinion.

I started with “rona kabhi nahin rona” from Apna Desh. No glamour here, no heroine, no silk kurta – just a chacha singing to his brother’s kids. I remember singing this song a lot to my niece way back in the early 80s when she was about three.

I then moved on to “yahan wahan saare, jahaan pe tera raaj hai” from Aan Milo Sajna. This song took me right back to my childhood. This is a Rajesh song close to my heart – again it is “pure” Rajesh, if you know what I mean. I even tweeted this, saying “tere hi to sar pe mohabbat ka taj hai”.

And so I went on. I began posting songs on Facebook – only to a select group. (A lot of my friends are non-Indian and presumably do not know who Rajesh Khanna is. I did not want to spam them).

 Rajesh-Mumtaz with “gore rang pe na itna gumaan kar” (Roti), one of my favorites.

 Then “ye jo chilman hai” (Mehboob Ki Mehndi), another of my favorites – Rajesh in kurta singing an ode to a beautiful Leena Chandavarkar.  Beautiful poetry here by Anand Bakshi.

Then one of my childhood favorites – I must have sung this song (badly) at least a million times. “Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye” (Anand).

And “ye shaam mastaani” from Kati Patang.

And “ye kya hua, kaise hua” from Amar Prem.

And the fun-filled “mujh se bhala ye kaajal tera” from The Train. - Rajesh with Nanda.

And another of my favorites, “o mere dil ke chain” from Mere Jeevan Saathi. Another one of those "million times, badly-sung" songs by me.

I did not want to drive my friends crazy – I stopped with just these songs, I think. I did listen to many more though – “gusssa itna haseen hai to pyar kaisa hoga” (Maryada), “nainon mein nindiya hai” (Joroo Ka Ghulam)…

In what was still an indescribably incredibly inconsolably despondent mood, I then updated my Facebook status to:

Kya samjhega aalam koi
Badaa bhaari hai aaj dil ye mera
Ki le gaye ho saath safar pe tumhaare
Tukda jo kabhi tha dil ye mera

(Who will understand my mood today
The weight that bears upon my heart
For you’ve taken with you on your journey
A piece that used to once be my heart)

Yes, I know it is rubbish poetry. But I was in no frame of mind to construct anything remotely comprehensible at that time.

The thing is, the news of Rajesh Khanna's death took me right back to my childhood. I am talking of the late 60s/early 70s. I was only a young boy then but I vividly remember watching his films then. I vividly remember many of the songs from his films even if I did not quite understand then the storyline.

For me, Rajesh Khanna was the first star I “knew”.  I’d heard of Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand – and also Shammi Kapoor. I’d seen their movies as well. But their time at their peak  was “before” my time (in the case of Shammi, “just before” my time).

Rajesh, on the other hand, peaked just at the time that I began watching, and becoming aware, of movies. So I could “feel” his popularity in a way that I could not feel the popularity of the big names before him.

And what popularity! By now a lot of people have talked about how he was “the first superstar”, “THE phenomenon”.  You hear lines (sometimes sounding patronizing) saying “only people who lived during that period will quite understand what he was”. 

Even if one allows for a bit of misty-eyed exaggeration, I think it is fair to say that it is not much more than a bit. I will speak only from my own experience. Yes, I was very young then, so my judgment may be questionable, but there was enough evidence all around me to suggest that there was Rajesh Khanna – and there was everybody else.

The first time I remember hearing his name was when one of my sister’s friends was chatting with my sister. She had just seen Baharon Ke Sapne and told my sister “The movie is ok. I actually didn’t like it very much. But oh, Rajesh Khanna….”. 

I suspect there were many, many more who went “Oh, Rajesh Khanna…” in the years to come.

I distinctly remember Aradhana’s success. I got to see it much after it was 
released – but I remember the impact it had everywhere around me.  There was hardly a day you did not hear an Aradhana song. Either on the radio, or somebody singing or humming it. That is how it seemed to me at least. “Mere sapnon ki rani” and “roop tera mastana” practically competed with each other for which was the more popular song of the time – any other song would have come a VERY distant third. 

The measure of Aradhana’s popularity can best be gauged by the fact that my paternal grandmother, who did not know a word of Hindi, and certainly knew no other Hindi songs, had heard the songs of Aradhana. We didn't have a tape recorder then, so if at all we heard anything, it was on radio. Various songs would be playing - but the moment an Aradhana song played - her eyes would light up and she'd say “Aradhana!” (Well, considering it probably played every single day, it might not have been such a difficult task to recognise the songs, I suppose).  

In 1975, during our summer holidays, we had gone for a family event deep in rural South India - in Thanjavur district, often considered then the bastion of anti-Hindi sentiment. There I got to spend some time with my cousins. They spoke Tamil and English – but not a word of Hindi. Anyway, they started playing Antakshari – and as one would expect,Tamil songs were being tossed around with great gusto. With my count of known Tamil songs then being a grand nil,  I must confess I felt totally out of place.

One of my cousins, seeing my lost look, stopped and said “Hindi?” I said “Yes”. “OK” he said. And immediately started with “mere sapnon ki rani…”. The others joined in. Ok, it was just the first couple of lines, the words were quite messed up, the accent even more so - but it felt just SO good.  And then there was the inevitable follow-up with “roop tera”. 

To date, I consider these as two of the most popular songs of Hindi cinema that I’ve known in my life - not counting songs from before my time.

Aradhana was THAT popular. Rajesh Khanna became an overnight star. Sharmila – already a popular heroine – went right to the top. I remember Madhuri magazine, having a discussion about who the No.1 heroine was – they had photos of three heroines (the ones in contention) – Asha Parekh, Waheeda Rehman and Sharmila Tagore.

When, in the late 90s, Kaho Na Pyar Hai – with its very popular numbers - became a super-duper hit, catapulting Hrithik Roshan to overnight fame,  it reminded me of Aradhana – and Rajesh Khanna – all those years ago. Hrithik did not quite manage to do a Rajesh follow-up act though. He became ONE of the stars, whereas Rajesh left all others behind to emerge as the one and only superstar.

Like I’ve said, in those years, there was Rajesh – and there was everybody else. It is not that others were not delivering hits. Dharmendra and Shashi Kapoor, for example, also did well in that period. But the Rajesh tsunami was such that everybody seemed to have eyes for him - and him only.  

There is this general impression that it was the female constituency, particularly young girls, that was crazy about Rajesh Khanna. True, but that's not the entire story. People of ALL generations, all age groups, male-female, were pretty crazy about him at that time. 

There were a whole lot of newcomers in that period. I remember Vinod Mehra, Rakesh Roshan, Parikshat Sahni (then called Ajay Sahni), even Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha and Vinod Khanna (both starting off in villain roles), Randhir Kapoor, Anil Dhawan, Navin Nischol, Vijay Arora, Kabir Bedi, Rakesh Pandey, Romesh Sharma, Vikram…I’m sure there were others too that I have not named here. Some of these definitely tried to copy Rajesh Khanna. Rakesh Roshan, for example. But they could not QUITE pull it off.

That was the time when people would blindly go to watch a movie just because it was a Rajesh movie. They were guaranteed that smile, that look, that nod of the head – and some glorious songs. Whether the heroine was Asha Parekh or Sharmila Tagore or Mumtaz or Tanuja or Hema Malini or anybody else, it did not matter.  Even if the film did not have a heroine opposite him, it did not matter. All that mattered was that it had Rajesh Khanna.

He did the odd cameo too. Not many talk about it – but I thought he did a lovely cameo as the flower vendor in the tear-jerker Anuraag.

I saw almost all his movies from that early period, in those early years of the 70s. I will not name the movies here, it is almost the entire list of that time. I knew most of the songs from his movies by heart. You just heard them so many times that you could not help it.

I cannot say with absolute certainty what my very first Rajesh movie was. I think it was Sacha Jhootha, though it could just as well have been Do Raaste. I remember seeing these movies very early on, as also Maryada. 

True, in terms of superstardom, his reign at the top was all-too-brief.

And true, towards the end of his golden period, his mannerisms took over and watching him became difficult. His hamming, together with a questionable selection of movies, resulted in his loyal fan-base getting disenchanted and beginning to feel let down. (I know, I was one of them).

And yes, that was exactly the time when Amitabh Bachchan’s star was rising with some excellent performances in movies like Zanjeer and Deewar. The times were changing - the mood in the country was becoming increasingly cynical and anti-establishment. Romance was taking a backseat, anger was in the front row. There were protests, bandhs, strikes all over the place - I remember that even as a young boy.

Movies are usually a reflection of the times and the society in which, and for which, they are made. More and more people began identifying more easily with the "angry young man" image of Amitabh than the soft, romantic image of Rajesh (which was anyway beginning to get seriously dented with his exaggerated mannerisms). But there is no doubt that, in addition to self-created reasons for his self-destruction, there was the external environment too that was beginning to become alien to Rajesh's style.

Oh, how I hated the fact that Amitabh was taking over Rajesh's place. I had nothing against Amitabh - in fact I grudgingly liked him, especially in his movies with Jaya Bhaduri. And I loved Majboor, one of his most under-rated performances, in my opinion and still one of my Amitabh favorites.

But nobody, NOBODY, took Rajesh's place. He was going through a bad phase, that was all. That's how I convinced myself - though I secretly knew that the magic was wearing off. And well, if everybody in the country was angry about something or the other at that time, I was angry at the movies Rajesh was doing, I was angry at his hamming. But I was still a Rajesh loyalist and I wasn't willing as yet to allow another person to sit on that throne. 

I think a lot of Rajesh fans must have switched loyalties and become Amitabh fans at that time. At
 that age, in school at least, you tended to be identified either with Rajesh or with Amitabh.  To be fair to those who switched, it was really becoming very difficult to continue to defend Rajesh. So I wouldn't call them fair-weather fans. 

I remember one such ex-Rajesh fan even challenging me "Tell me, can Rajesh act like Amitabh in Deewar?" I struggled with my defence - and could only manage "No, but I don't WANT Rajesh to act like Amitabh. I just want Rajesh to be Rajesh. Like he used to be". 

Oh, those mid- and late-70s were difficult times for a Rajesh fan.

And yes, Rajesh’s lack of professionalism, his poor public relations, his whims, his lack of maintenance – all of these, individually seriously problematic but collectively conclusively disastrous,  ensured that his career, once it tipped over, went into free fall. 

When you read about some of those stories today, they sound outrageous but one needs to bear in mind that those were different times. The film industry has changed a lot over the years. Today actors are far more professional, they are extremely conscious about not just their appearance but their image, they are often very boringly politically correct, they are very media-savvy. I think Rajesh was on such a cloud that he did not pay much attention to these non-acting attributes required for an actor's sustained success in the industry. 

At that age, I read about all this only in magazines - mainly Filmfare, Star and Style and Stardust. Film magazines were not subscribed to (or encouraged) in our household but we would always get hold of them from friends. So there was plenty of film information (and gossip) available to us.

Even at that age, I was very sceptical of what I read in these magazines. So to me, what I saw on screen was what I made of an actor or a situation. In any case, these backstage problems (of unprofessional behaviour) were something that did not matter to me. The hamming yes, the backstage problems, no. They were all none of my business anyway.

 I do remember reading a lot of anti-Rajesh Khanna writing in the late 70s. It was as if everybody had been waiting for him to fall. As if everybody was out to get him, waiting for that chance to get that dagger in, and to twist it.

That his personal life was also becoming a mess, did not help one bit. At that time, it felt like any news about Rajesh was only bad news – nobody seemed to have a good word to say about him.  And the witch-hunt seemed to go on, for ever and ever.

 So if we are to keep score, I am pretty much convinced that he paid the price for his failings in far greater measure than he deserved.  No wonder then that he chose to lead a somewhat secluded life in his later years.

I don’t think Rajesh ever totally got over the shock of his sudden fall from grace. When you are at THAT height – and the fall is SO precipitous, it is difficult to keep your senses around you. Your sycophants leave you, your so-called friends leave you – life suddenly becomes very lonely.

What Rajesh critics often fail to mention is that he did realize his mistakes later. I clearly remember seeing an interview where he admits his mistakes. He does not blame anybody else for them.  Surely that counts for something?

I stopped seeing Rajesh Khanna movies after a while. They became painful to watch – if only because I knew what he had once been. Maybe there was the odd good movie at that time – I just did not have the heart to watch it. I call that the “Janta Hawaldar” period – I remember this being one of the movies I expressly skipped at that time. 

I do remember watching Thodisi Bewafai and Avtaar though.  Both of them were telecast on Doordarshan (as the Sunday evening movie) - and I’d heard they were good. So, rather hesitatingly, I decided to watch them – and am glad I did. I quite liked them. 

In the last couple of years, I’ve caught up with some of the Rajesh movies I’d avoided in my Rajesh blackout phase. Movies like Rajput and Kudrat. I thought he was OK in both of them. 

But, on the whole, my memories of Rajesh will be of the Rajesh of my childhood. 

With his death, he has taken a part of my childhood with him. But I certainly bear him no grudge – for he gave me so much more in my childhood, so many wonderful moments to cherish and enjoy, that I will remain ever-grateful to him for this.

As I sign off (still emotional), I cannot help thinking that a tribute to Rajesh without some of his songs would be oh-so-incomplete.

So I will leave you with some of his songs that I feel he could be singing to his various constituencies. 

For his critics (whose numbers ran into millions), I have "mere naseeb mein aye dost, tera pyar nahin" (dear friend, it was not in my destiny to get your love). Anand Bakshi's lyrics in this song are just mind-blowing.

For his fans (whose numbers hopefully outnumbered his critics), I have "maine tere liye hi saat rang ke sapne chune, sapne sureele sapne". (I have picked dreams of seven different colors for only you, sweet dreams). Gulzar's lyrics here - quite typical, actually.

For children, I think his message to them (actually Anand Bakshi's message in Kishore Kumar's voice) is invaluable - "rona kabhi nahin rona". Simple words, deep message - "jo apna nahin, tum uske liye, jo apna hai, nahin khona" (In your pursuit of something that doesn't belong to you, don't lose what you do have).

For the youth (and with his message to take care of the elderly thrown in), I think he'd have liked to exhort them to enjoy their youth and make the most of it with "yahan wahaan saare jahaan mein tera raj hai". Anand Bakshi again.

For the female constituency (and one need have no fear about that number not running into many millions), I can imagine him singing one of my favorite romantic numbers - with that nod of the head of course. The song, with a gorgeous Leena Chandavarkar, with beautiful lyrics (Anand Bakshi again!) and Rafi saab's voice. Oh, how I love the fact that this is Rafi saab's voice.

Thank you SO MUCH for everything, Rajesh Khanna. I guess we were just fortunate to have you with us for as long as we did. You will always live on in our hearts. Rest In Peace.  And do enjoy your time up there with Kishore and RD. 

As for me, well, I can only say chhoti chhoti baaton ki hai yaadein badin.

And if I may call you my yaar, I'd like to also add nafrat ki duniya ko chhod ke pyar ki duniya mein, khush rehna mere yaar. 


samir said...

Wonderful heartfelt tribute Raja, I share your experiences. I too am much more confident when writing about something I have experienced first-hand, such as the movies of the late 60's & 70's. Rajesh did define our era, and his songs shall always be cherished. Although I eventually switched over to Amitabh, I believe Rajesh's songs to be much superior. Indeed, I would categorize him as the "Last Great Songs Hero".
He was tagged primarily a romantic hero, but I also liked him in Masala films such as Sachcha Jhutha & Roti. Both were directed by Manmohan Desai, and I consider these two along with DharamVeer to be in his top 4 (the topmost being AAA).

Lalitha said...

Wonderful tribute, Raja! Since you probably know already that I had a major crush on him in my college years, you can imagine how it feels to hear this news, especially when he was not that old, either, just 69 years old. Yes, I too watched all his early movies and stopped watching sometime after "Aap ki kasam" and "Aavishkar", when the AB train started barreling through the screen. But he still retained a place in my heart and that place is feeling the loneliness today. RIP, Kaka!

Ava Suri said...


This is an excellent post. No one can equal what Rajesh Khanna achieved during his hey days.

Although I was a bit too young then to be hysterical, I do remember daydreaming about him. I dragged my family to see movies like Haathi mere Saathi and Mehboob ki Mehndi. My father never saw movies, but he went along with us to see these two :)

My world came crashing about me when Dimple married him. Not because Rajesh got married, but because Dimple did. Hehehe.

Somehow his appeal for me waned after that, but only for his current movies. I still loved him for his movies up to 1973.

I loved Kudrat, have never seen Thodi si Bewafai.

dustedoff said...

Unfortunately, by the time I knew what was what, Rajesh Khanna had given way to Amitabh - which was why I ended up being introduced to Rajesh Khanna's movies through some of his earliest and best ones.

From your tribute (a wonderful one, by the way), I can get a sense of what a juggernaut he must have been. That people who knew no Hindi could be familiar with his films and his songs - that is quite something.

Shalini said...

Beautiful! Just beautiful!

Lovely tribute Raja!

“Zindagi aur maut uparwale ke hath hai jahapana, jise na aap badal sakte hai na mein… hum sab to rangmanch ki katputliaan hai, jiski dor uparwale ke haath bandhi hai ..KAB KAUN KAISE UTHEGA YE KOI NAHI JANTA..”

And as Babu Moshai said “Anand mara nahi, Anand marte nahi..”

sunil said...

With his death, he has taken a part of my childhood with him

Wonderful tribute!
About the criticism, I will grant you it was not pretty but it seems to be very much a part of human nature. As a child of the 80s, I know that Amitabh spent my ENTIRE childhood (starting from the time he joined politics) getting mercilessly criticized. :) HE was forgiven only when Kaun Banega Crorepati happened.

There was a wonderful editoral in today's Times Of India, explaining much of his considerable charm - please do read that, if you get a chance. :)

sunil said...

BTW I am not for one moment suggesting that Rajesh Khanna does not deserve this love, but why was the death of Hrishida or Shakthi Samantha met with such complete indifference? THAT is something about human nature I really don't understand. :)

squarecut.atul said...

Fantastic tribute Raja ! Being able to come up with a tribute like this, when the heart is full of sorrow is not easy, and still you have copme up with a heartfelt tribute like this. I read on spell bound and was woken from the reverie only after I reached to the end.

Childhood memories of Rajesh Khanna movie are indeed the most memorable and cherished movies of the childhood for me as well.

Sudhir Kapur said...

Raja ji,
A wonderful trip down the memory lane. And I can share and relate most of what you have written. ". . .There was Rajesh Khanna - and then there was everyone else." He meant so much - in the early years when going to see films was not all that often and simple, just to see the names of his films, and see his face on the hoardings and posters, used to be a trip in itself. Getting to see those films later, on TV or much later on VHS/DVD when it became possible, was such a wonderful rejuvenation of the memories of childhood.

Love this post and the emotions you have put in here. For me, the judgments of the late 70s, sank in much later. Most times in those years, it was just the songs and his eyes and the tilt of his neck, ". . .jawaani o deewaani tu zindabaad. . .".

Yes, he will always remain the significant memory of childhood.

Archana said...

Very well written - a tribute from the heart! I have only seen his movies on tv and I've loved him whole-heartedly. I can only imagine how things must have been back then in his hey days.
Truly said, Papa. He's been a part of our lives, and we have lots of memories associated with him. And these memories can be never taken away from us.
I started with my tribute too because I had to pour out how I was feeling that day when I heard of his demise. But there are lots of other things still, my memories that I need to put in there.
RIP, Kaka!

sunil said...

Some of his latter movies were quite decent - Hum Dono, Anurodh, and I always loved the Smitha Patel song, "Dushman na kare woh dost ne kaam kiya hain, zindagi bhar ka gham inaam diya hain". :)

Anonymous said...


A song I particularly like is : "Thandi Hawaon Ne Gori Ka Gunghat" from Prem Nagar. What lovely timing from kaka and effortless dancing from Hema and the extras!

Nitin Sharma said...

What also adds to Rajesh Khanna's appeal is his vulnerability - he looked human and not a superhuman unlike Amitabh Bachchan. Also, they don't make sad songs anymore.. I really miss those kind.

I have been a fan of Raj Kapoor and a reluctant fan of Amitabh Bachchan like yourself but none of them generate the emotions like Rajesh Khanna... his Anand, Amar Prem, Andaz and many more.

Anonymous said...

Thank you raja. That was lovely and heartfelt.
I've been listening to his songs for the last few days. People are linking his songs and it's just the next step to click and listen as I've done with yours.


Raja Swaminathan said...

@Samir: True, when you have experienced something first-hand, it gives you a different perspective on the subject.

@Lalitha: Yes, I guess those who lived through those times will know best the pain of others on that same journey. Sort of soz-e-hamsafar. :-)

@Ava: Ha ha. Yes, the Dimple angle for you I guess. Lots of people switched off after 1973-74. LOTS!!! I hung around for a bit longer.:-)

@dustedoff: Yes, juggernaut, meteor, tsunami...pick the term. Brief stay at the top (maybe 5 yrs) - but swept ALL before it.

@Shalini: He did have some of the best dialogues, didn't he? Especially about life and death?

@Sunil: I guess when you're on your way down from the top, you realise what a bitchy world this is. Having said that, I think Amitabh managed his relationships much better than Rajesh did (though his political stint, and accusations about his role in the Bofors scandal, did bring him a lot of criticism).

To yr point about Hrishikesh M. or Shakti Samanta, it is about the public face. Those on the screen are the faces for the public. They get the bouquets the most, they get the brickbats the most. Hardly any Indian knows how HM or SS look. When people talk of a movie the first thing they talk about are the actors, not the director (completely wrong IMO but that's how it is).

@Atul: Thanks. You know me - when I get going, it's difficult for me to stop myself. :-)

@Sudhirji: Thank you. This is about my memories of him (mostly from my childhood). The backstage problems he had, were not on my mind at all when I saw a Rajesh movie. Thankfully. :-)

@Bitiya: Was surprised to learn that you are a big fan too. He just had a charm that you either got. Or you didn't. I guess you did. :-)

@Anon: Yes, "thandi hawaon ne" is a lovely song too. SD Burman after all. Prem Nagar had pretty good songs.

@Nitin: You bring up a good point. I never thought of it, but there are hardly any sad songs around nowadays, right? Not saying people should be sad but the depth of sad songs, tugging away at one's heart strings, seems to bring balance and reflection into one's life, I feel. Or maybe I'm talking through my hat here. :-) And yes, Rajesh was able to evoke emotions like very few before him. I think it was because people could identify with his roles, he played the aam aadmi most of the time.

@pacifist: Thanks. Yes, the last few days have been Rajesh Khanna song-days for me too. Always loved his songs - the love has only multiplied many times now. :-)

Thank you, all. I don't think I've ever received so many comments for a single blog post so far in the entire life of this blog.

Gary said...

Hi Raja
alles gaat goed met jou?
kom eens terug naar cricbuzz aub!
wij missen jou.
this is a great test match. hope you're enjoying it.
take care

Anonymous said...

Hi Raja,

Knew you were a die-hard Rajesh admirer so I had to stop by. Yes it is true, Rajesh Khanna is inextricably linked to our childhoods. Of the very early 70s I remember winged Impalas, bouffants, and turbaned waiters; all the stuff you see in RK movies. Hope you cheer up.


Raja Swaminathan said...

So thoughtful of you to drop by and leave a comment,Sophy. Yes, I guess being there at that time, even if very young, does leave us with some memories.

harvey said...

Well-written tribute, coming from the heart!
My Rajesh-times never started, since I was born much more in the Amitabh-days.
My experience of his times was all second-hand. Thanks to your experiences, I can understand this phenomenon better.
I think he would have made a good Devdas in his heyday. Let us say Devdas with him in the title role and Hema as Paro and Mumtaz as Chandramukhi with Hrishikesh Mukherjee as the director. Gulzar wanted to attempt it with Dharmendra, Hema and Sharmila, but it was shelved.

"I remember Madhuri magazine, having a discussion about who the No.1 heroine was – they had photos of three heroines (the ones in contention) – Asha Parekh, Waheeda Rehman and Sharmila Tagore."
And nobody was thinking of Hema who would sweep them all away!

Seshadri Kumar said...

Liked your article.
For a different kind of tribute to Kaka; one based on the record; which talks about his associations with different directors and leading ladies; discusses the music of his films; talks about his relationships with different music directors; talks about the people who did playback for him; and, in the context of this article, gives a comprehensive list of all the great songs Kaka is featured in, see http://www.leftbrainwave.com/2012/07/death-of-superstar-remembering-rajesh_8505.html

neelima Choahan said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for putting into words what we all feel. Will always love...wasn't around at the height of his stardom but can't imagine he was any worse than the lot of them...wish he hadn't been ignored in the end or that he had more acumen to turn his failure around...but you are right, don't think he ever got his head around the change in fortune. Incidentally, I loved him in Kudrat.

Raja Swaminathan said...

@Seshadri Kumar, thanks for visiting. Just visited your blog - what a detailed piece you've written on Rajesh Khanna!!!

@Neelima, thanks for visiting and appreciating this piece. Indeed, it's a pity Rajesh could not handle success - but then that's a very human trait, isn't it?

Seshadri Kumar said...

Thanks, Raja. One of the reasons I thought you might like my blog article was that you, too, talk about a lot of his songs, and I have dwelled a lot on the songs in my piece.

One comment I wanted to make regarding your statement that your paternal grandfather, who did not understand a word of Hindi,loved Aradhana. I had a similar experience, which I forgot to mention in my tribute.

We had a carpenter from the deep interiors of Tamil Nadu who had just come to Mumbai and who was building a cabinet for us in our home. When he was doing his work, we'd be playing music on our system in the house as we supervised the workers do their stuff. One cassette we'd often play was that of Aradhana.

After a few days, Kandasami, the carpenter, would come to me and say, "please play that 'geme sapnon ki rani' song" :-) ! He didn't know a word of Hindi, but he loved that song. And he'd also ask for "Oop tera mastana" over and over again. So yes, agree with you on the popularity of those two songs.

Anonymous said...

Rajesh's acting starting having too many mannerisms later on, but tell me, whether it has not happened to any other actor?

So, I do not quite see the point. Even in the 80s, he had the guts to do a role of a psychopath killer in "Red Rose" which Amit, even at the height of his popularity never even dared to try.

Many kaka fans did not leave him as has been said. If that was the case, he would not have had so many hits even in the 80s.

SHYAM said...

Indeed a great tribute to a REAL SUPER STAR of hindi cinema.Only one RAJESH KHANNA can take birth in 1000 years.He was so great. Nobody can replace him in acting.His popularity remained intact with his fans up to his last journey.He was right-BABU MOSAI MERE FAN MUJSE KOI NAHI CHEEN SAKTA.He will remain close to the hearts of his millions fans for ever.......!

Rose said...

I read both your posts on Rajesh Khanna and I still keep coming back to this one as this touches my heart the most, because I can identify with everything you said in it. I experienced the 'Rajesh Khanna Phenomemon' first hand too! I was 14 when I was mesmerized by Rajesh Khanna after Aradhana, to the point that I remember for my birthday that year my friends gave me his pictures! And when his marriage to Dimple was announced, my friends expected me to wear a black ribbon as protest! Oh, those were the days! No, I did not send him letters or try to line up to see him, in my middle class education-first marathi family, these things were never heard of!

So I totally agree with you, with his death, I have lost a part of my childhood with him. My older siblings, staunch Dharam fans, always had an ongoing battle with me about the two! For me of all Rajesh movies (I am talking 70s), Aavishkar is the best, he looks dropdead georgeous (all those closeups!) and acts without any inhibitions or mannerisms! And the songs!

Like you, I went thru a Rajesh blackout phase when I stopped seeing his movies when it was too painful to watch. It was hard to keep up the arguments with friends who were Amitabh fans. I particularly remember the horrible writer Devyani Choubal (Devi as she is referred to) writing deliberately scandalous - downright sleazy- stuff about Rajesh in marathi magazines and she was supposed to be close to him! I am surprised the BBC documentary gave her so much footage! Truly I have never seen anybody receiving so much vitriol from the press as Rajesh. He really did not deserve it!

It is true Rajesh never divulged any of his private issues to the public. But he came from a stable family as he talks in one of his autobiographical articles on RK forum, how come not one person, his father or anybody tried to help him keep his feet grounded? I believe that he did fall in love with Dimple but may be marrying a 16 year old who adores you does not help you deal with things falling apart.
So thank you for this post. It helps to know one is not alone with these feelings.

fahad ali said...

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Anonymous said...

Brilliant tribute Raja, and your growing up years with Kaka are almost identical to mine.
Boy, was he a craze and my fondest memory is when the movie hall was charged when he made his dramatic motorcycle entry in Andaz. I wasn't even 10 then but remember so well how the audience was literally electrified!
Wonder why people revelled in his 'down' phase because the truth is that nobody could ignore him! Film magazines through the 70s kept featuring articles on RK even when he had little to show at the box office.
Oddly enough, I respected him for his blunt honesty instead of being politically correct. And how do you expect anyone to remain level headed with that kind of giddy popularity when the entire nation was in love with him.
His 1st death anniversary is around the corner and I do hope TV channels remember to make it a Kaka treat!! Thanks again Raja for that lovely write-up

creola said...

I just stumbled upon this blog post today and I have to say it's lovely. I never counted myself as a fan and am significantly younger but an essay on Dharmendra by a cultural historian made me pause and reflect upon my viewings of the 1970s films. I grew up in a household that adored Dharmendra so I remember watching films such as Chupke Chupke, Pratigya, Charas, Dillagi, Dost, Sholay, Ram Balram, Tum Haseen Main Jawaan. We also watched loads of other films such as the Kishore Kumar-Shashi Kapoor starrer Pyar Kiye Ja, Amar Akbar Anthony, Golmaal, Milee, Angoor and Kabhie Kabhie, among others. Rajesh Khanna did not figure significantly in our household, although I have vague memories of the incredibly catchy and upbeat song from Andaz and the film Sachcha Jhootha. The Rajesh Khanna of the 80s had very little appeal and I didn't think much of him until I discovered Kishore Kumar in my teens in 1990s. My father told me stories of the kind of female adulation that was associated with Rajesh Khanna and I was curious to understand this when I watched films like Aradhana and Kati Patang. Much as I loved them, I was also subjected to the incredibly odd film Red Rose that used to air frequently on one of the new channels. So my adoration was always held in check by my knowledge of what became of the star in the decade that followed Aradhana.

When I read this 2008 essay on Dharmendra by Mukul Kesavan I was perplexed by not just his complete dismissal of Rajesh Khanna but also by own sense of hurt at this slight. I adored Dharmendra and agree with the writer that he has been significantly underappreciated as an actor. Over the next few days I watched Aradhana again (after a long gap), Daag, Kamoshi, Anand (again, after a long time) and Dushman. By the end of Aradhana, I was sobbing but incredibly satisfied that I could still appreciate the film. There is so much that one can say about early Rajesh Khanna but my point in writing this comment was to say that much as I loved Dharmendra my niggling grouse with that piece allowed me to realise that Dharmendra had always been my parents' hero. We watched all his films together and they were a wonderful way for a family to spend time together. But my discovery of Rajesh Khanna's films and his boyish charm has been my own. It isn't influenced by memories of any aunt who crushed on him. I think it has always been a source of embarrassment to express appreciation of Rajesh Khanna. Some of the articles written after his demise were by writers who weren't impacted by his stardom directly but knew of aunts who were ardent admirers. Amitabh Bachchan is almost universally loved and admired and expressing appreciation of any kind for him and his films isn't unusual and doesn't invite scrutiny. However, a person from my generation is likely to get querulous looks for their preference and I'm not surprised that until now I hadn't even known I genuinely adored RK. I did watch songs such as Jawaani O Deewani, Woh Shaam Kuch ajeeb thi, Jai Jai Shiv Shankar quite fondly in the 90s but my fascination was easily masked by love for Kishore Kumar and my amusement at RK's mannerisms. Anyway, my point is that Amitabh's stardom overshadows the appeal that many of the other stars held and their audiences are not always and as easily visible. The extent to which RK is dismissed in critical media is also what makes it difficult to speak about his obvious appeal. I think one of the other commentators on this post made an excellent observation - one that I'm inclined to agree with - that RK seems vulnerable, human. AB, on the other hand, is a kind of super hero... Anyway, that's an incredibly long comment to add. Really appreciated your blog post.