Ode to Indian Cinema’s Original King Of Romance

This post is dedicated to my mother; who like any other teenager was smitten by Rajesh Khanna in the 70s so much so that she wore sarees especially like one of his heroines; Sharmila Tagore(though she totally denies it!). Since his demise, she has been watching news and programs only about him; infact she has even stopped watching her favourite saas-bahu sagas! Well mom this one is for you, for your favourite star!

India’s first superstar, Rajesh Khanna passed away last week after a prolonged illness. It’s not that I am a huge fan of his and he isn’t the first celebrity who died but for some strange reason I found myself to be drawn towards him, his life. I want to know who was Rajesh Khanna; I want to know about the hysteria that he caused; why was it that the girls of his era swore even by his photographs; what was his charisma and why the fall from such a position of power and fame. Perhaps it is the same reason why since his passing away in every channel and every Radio station everything is about him. Death is strange in a way; it makes you ponder and think about a person more than you would have while he was alive; more so if he was a public figure.

Ironic isn’t it; the man was lost in oblivion and practically ignored by the industry that once upon a time could have done anything to get into the same frame as the him. Such is life, when you are at the top the world is at your footsteps; but once you fall you are reduced to nothing but a tiny speck of life that nobody cares about. Don’t get me wrong; I hardly knew the man. Perhaps he was difficult to get along with; but strange isn’t it the same group of people that chose to ignore him once; are oozing praises for him! Is that how hollow we are? Well perhaps that’s how our human psyche works!

So yes I was curious about him hence I went online to search for the famous documentary on him ‘Bombay Superstar’.  I am in general very intrigued by the past; the years gone by. The old world always seems to attract me towards it. So once I started watching the Rajesh Khanna of the 70s I was glued to him. The frenzy he caused just by the gestures of his eyes was flabbergasting! I myself have never been so infatuated by any actor even though I have grown up watching Shahrukh Khan in Dilwale Dulhaniya Lejayenge! What was it in Khanna that casted this magical effect on girls and his fans in general? It’s mesmerising really when you think about the lack of advertisements or social media at that time. He must have had something special to have generated that kind of madness!

Jack Pizzey, a BBC journalist, described Rajesh Khanna as someone who had the charisma of Rudolph Valentino and the arrogance of Napoleon. Infact when I saw the documentary; I could see that he had the aura of someone who could cast a spell on you but on the other hand he also came across as someone fiercely self-obsessed perhaps that’s what caused his downfall in the long term. But nevertheless; he was different and special for sure.

As I write this article listening to iconic songs picturised on the man himself; all I can say is he was an enigma who slowly drifted into nothingness. I guess all good things do come to an end! But as they say, as clichéd as it may sound, I am sure he will live on in the beautiful movies and songs of his and in the hearts of his fans. Perhaps, in a different timeline of life; he still lingers on enacting melodious songs in his trademark guru kurtas that made an entire generation of girls grow weak in their knees!