Fans of Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna have expressed a desire to watch his super-hit films in cinema halls following his death on Wednesday. Overwhelmed by the demand, the Pune Exhibitors’ Association (PEA) is trying to get hold of the prints of Khanna’s all-time super-hit ‘Anand’.
PEA president Sadanand Mohol is optimistic about screening the film in which Khanna played a dying man who did not abandon his zest for life even though he knew his days were numbered.
The PEA is a representative body of owners of 18 single-screen theatres. “We have witnessed the era of Rajesh Khanna fever among youngsters in the 1970s; they used to come in large numbers and the tickets sold like hot cakes,” Mohol said. “Today also the younger generation is willing to watch the movies on the big screen instead of on the TV screen.”
Mohol said that he also wanted to revive the old practice of matinee shows where only the old films are screened in all theatres in the city. “This could be a good opportunity to make the audience come to watch old classic films in theatres once again,” he said.
Niyan Joshi, partner, Vijay Theatre, said efforts were on to obtain the prints of ‘Anand’. “Khanna’s ‘Anand’ was highly appreciated by the audience and it ran to full houses for 25 weeks. I also want to bring back the print of ‘Anand’ in my theatre,” Joshi said. “We are in touch with the producers and distributors who can provide us the film. So far, nothing has materialised, but we are still hopeful we will get the film prints. We also wish the issue of copyright is resolved.”
Not an easy job
Film distributor Sunil Samak said obtaining the print of the film would be tough as it involved a lot of spadework. “Unfortunately, it has become a difficult task to trace the producers for finding the prints of Khanna’s films,” Samak said. “The situation may change if there is a flood of queries for the purpose of showing the superstar’s film in cinema halls. Otherwise, making a fresh print in a laboratory is a costly affair.”
TV not good enough
A die-hard Rajesh Khanna fan, Avinash Joshisi, said he had seen ‘Anand’ more than 50 times and still could not get enough of it. “I would love to watch his (Khanna’s) films again in the theatre,” Joshisi said. “My top favourite is ‘Anand’, which I have seen over 50 times. I saw the four shows of the film in one day when once there was a strong rumour that the actor was dead. Watching ‘Anand’ once again in a cinema hall will be heaven for me.”
Amit Kadam, another worshipper of the superstar, said it was just not good enough to watch Kaka, as Khanna was known, on the television screen.
“Khanna had a larger than life image only because there were no TV shows and DVDs in his heyday,” Kadam said. “I really don’t enjoy Rajesh Khanna on the small screen. Instead, I would like to watch him again on the big, silver screen.”
Veteran actress Farida Jalal, who acted with the Rajesh Khanna in ‘Aradhana’ and ‘Amar Prem’, wants ‘Anand’ and ‘Aradhana’ to be screened in cinema halls especially for the younger generation as it hardly knew how legendary an actor Rajesh Khanna was.
“I wish he had received many more prayers during his illness and we hadn’t lost him,” she said. “For today’s generation, I would like to recommend two of his movies so that they can understand of his calibre as an actor. One is ‘Anand’ for his splendid performance and the other is ‘Aradhana’ for his interesting double role. From ‘Aradhana’ onwards, he emerged as the superstar of Indian cinema. Rajesh Khanna has truly done every role with flying colours. We will definitely miss him.”
22 films with NFAI
The National Film Archive of India (NFAI), which has been flooded with requests to screen Rajesh Khanna’s evergreen films, has 22 of Rajesh Khanna’s films. “Queries from various fans and film clubs have started pouring in about screenings of Rajesh Khanna’s films. We have a total of 22 films and need to check the present condition of the prints of all these films,” NFAI film preservation officer Kiran Dhivar said. “Some prints are in good condition. We will do a full check and then fulfil the demands made by Khanna fans in Pune and even film clubs from outside the state. The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) has asked for three of Khanna’s films to show to its students.”