Rajesh Khanna: The Original Superstar - Part II

Last week you read how with ARADHANA Rajesh Khanna rose like meteoric taking Bollywood by sweep. Such was the craze of Khanna among his fans; particularly college girls kissed his car with lipstick, wrote letters in blood, and married his photograph! 

Recalling the Rajesh Khanna fanaticism among his fans famous actor of the 70’s Navin Nischol, who gave several hits in the 70’s like SAWAN BHADON, VICTORIA NO. 203, HANSTE ZAKHM, DHARMA and was recently seen in KHOSLA KA GHOSLA once in an interview told, “I have seen crazy fans of Dev Anand, Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan but the mass hysteria that Kaka (Rajesh Khanna loving called) commanded was amazing and the kind which even Shah Rukh or Salman Khan do not command.”

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He added, “Once I had attended a wedding reception at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel. I was entering the hotel and Kaka was coming out. Watching Kaka his fans rushed at him like bees to honey. I was left dumbfounded looking at the whole sea of humanity after him. It was an incredible experience that I had ever witnessed for any star!” 

The Rajesh Khanna phenomenon was not just limited to crazy fans but even the film industry was subjective to his charismatic spell. Insiders who were close to him reveal that the Rajesh Khanna allure was such that film financers gave blank cheques to film producers just on the mention of Rajesh Khanna, without caring a damn for the director, heroine or the script! 

His popularity was so intense that even the prestigious BBC London was overwhelmed by his stardom and made an exclusive documentary titled Rajesh Khanna, Bombay Superstar. BBC reporter Jack Pizzey went to India and managed to interview the reclusive star, along with directors Hrishikesh Mukherjee and J. Om Prakash, actors Mumtaz and Shashi Kapoor, and others. 

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Jack Pizzey, who described Rajesh Khanna as the biggest star of the biggest film industry of the world, too got a dose of Rajesj Khanna’s star tantrums because Rajesh Khanna was supposed to arrive at the sets of NAMAK HARAM, at 8 am in the morning but he appeared at 3 pm in the afternoon!!! 

However the craze and stardom that Rajesh Khanna commanded in the five years from 1969 TO 1973 began to dwindle from 1974 and with movies MAHA CHOR, BUNDAL BAAZ, MEHBOOBA, TYAAG, KARM, CHALTA PURZA, AASHIQ HOON BAHARON KA etc. failing at the box office Rajesh Khanna soon began to fad away from public memory and a new star Amitabh Bachchan became their new favorite. 

Rajesh Khanna’s story can be captured beautifully from one of his movie’s song…

zindagi ke safar mein,guzar jate hain jo makam, woh phir nahi aate

waqt chalta hi rehta hai rukta nahi, ek pal me ye aage nikal jaata hai

aadmi theek se dekh paata nahin, aur parde pe manzar badal jaata hai!!!