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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rajesh Khanna: The First Indian Superstar Passes Away!

A small town of Assam—long time ago. The town had only one movie theatre and every Friday there was a change of movies. As small kids we were always focused on the movies being screened there. On Fridays, a cycle-rickshaw covered with huge posters and fitted with a loud speaker used to roam the town streets announcing the new movie. It came to our area too and we used to wait eagerly for the spectacle.                     
On a particular Friday the spectacle arrived and it announced the release of a new film called ‘Aradhana’ (Worship-1969) with a brand new hero named Rajesh Khanna. We never heard about him before. Songs of the movie were also being played and we got instantly attracted. We decided to watch the movie pretty soon. But rumors of a particular song (we came to know much later that the sexy song was captured in one camera take) prevented our parents giving the green signal. They watched it first and then fortunately for us thought it prudent to allow us to go for it. 
And we came to know Rajesh Khanna. We were never able to take our eyes off him ever. We desperately waited to watch one and every of his movies—as a classic romantic hero, as an action hero, as a comedy hero, as a tragedy hero and to the character roles in later years. His style of acting, his gait, his dialogue delivery, his facial contortions, his unique singing and dancing flair, his mannerisms and gestures and every detail about him got embedded in our mind since those childhood days. If his ‘Haathi Mere Sathi’ (Elephant My Partner-1971) fascinated us with the spectacle of a child being brought up by a pack of wild elephants, unheard of in those days in our parts, his family drama ‘Bawarchi’ (The Chef-1972) made us long for the movie again and again to cherish its heavenly goodness.
We started growing up with the Phenomenon of India Cinema. ‘Aradhana’ gave him instant nationwide fame that was incredible in those times when there were no television channels. Due to ill health of Mohammad Rafi who was signed to sing the songs Kishore Kumar was brought in and his voice became a made-for-each-other for Rajesh Khanna giving rise to the eternal controversy about who helped whom to rise to fame. Within the next three years from 1969 Rajesh Khanna gave as many as 16 super hits. The first superstar of Indian Cinema was thus born and we were the proud beholders of history being made—Rajesh Khanna becoming an integral part of Indian folklore. 
The greatest Bollywood hero had been unwell for the last few days with complaints of fatigue and exhaustion. He was moving in and out of a local Mumbai hospital. It had been a very painful experience for his millions of fans to see the superstar, the Phenomenon, the Indian actor legend reduced to a skeleton. But that is reality and it is always hard.
Rajesh Khanna was shifted back home yesterday and he passed away at his home in Mumbai today—the 18th of July, 2012 at the age of 69. A date that is going to remain with us forever. Bollywood has been stunned today and thousands of his fans are thronging his home here in Mumbai. The police and security personnel are having a real tough time controlling the surging crowds.
The mortal remains of Rajesh Khannal will be assigned to flames tomorrow—the 19th of July—at 11am. We pray for the eternal bliss of the departed soul.
Rajesh Khanna is here to stay to go on entertaining and enthralling his fans all around the globe. 

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