Maut aani hai aayegi ek din
Jaan jaani hai jaayegi ek din
Aisi baaton se kya ghabrana
Yahaan kal kya ho kisne jaana...
These immortal lyrics pictured on yesteryear superstar Rajesh Khanna in Andaz (1970) echoed through everyone’s minds, as news about his death poured in. The veteran actor passed away at his Bandra residence yesterday afternoon after battling kidney problems. His condition had been deteriorating since April and Khanna was admitted to Lilavati Hospital twice in the past month. He was 69.
The Amritsar-born actor became the country’s first superstar, thanks to his 15 consecutive solo super hits between 1969 and 1972. He appeared in 163 feature films in all. Simply put, he single-handedly redefined Hindi cinema in 1970s after making his Bollywood debut in Aakhri Khat.
His unique way of delivering dialogues, crinkling eyes and tilted head contributed to his onscreen charisma that triggered hysteria particularly amongst his legions of women fans who would queue up the road for a glimpse, cover his car with lipstick marks and even write him letters in blood. Some even got married to his photographs!
Popularly known as Kaka, he was also one of the highest paid actors of his time. Some of his megahits include Aradhana, Safar, Kati Patang,Sachaa Jhutha, Aan Milo Sajna, Anand, Amar Prem and Mere Jeevan Saathi. Not only unforgettable films, even the songs featuring him are timeless. Mere Sapnon Ki Rani, Zindagi Ek Safar, Yeh Shaam Mastani are just a few of them.
Rajesh fell in love with Dimple Kapadia when she was only 16 and her debut film Bobby was yet to release. She was 15 years younger to him but they got married after a whirlwind romance in 1973. They had two daughters Twinkle and Rinke. The marriage however lasted for only 11 years, before they separated in 1984.
Like many other prominents actors in the country, he too flirted with politics and served as MP from 1991 to 1996. Later, after fading away from public glare, he re-emerged on the small screen at the onset of the new millennium making his presence felt in two TV serials Ittefaque and Apne Paraye. He breathed his last in the presence of his estranged wife Dimple, daughters Twinkle and Rinke, son-in-law Akshay Kumar, grandchildren and close relatives. After all, like he said in one of his most famous films, Anand, “Zindagi lambi nahi, badi honi chahiye...”