December 29th, 1942
July 18th, 2012
Popularly Known as
Actor, Producer, Politician
जीन्दगी लंबी नही, बडी होनी चाहीये
Biography of Rajesh Khanna
Khanna was born in Amritsar on 29 December 1942. He was adopted and raised by foster parents who were relatives of his biological parents. Khanna lived in Thakurdwar nearGirgaon. Khanna attended St. Sebastian’s Goan High School in Girgaum, along with his friend Ravi Kapoor, who later took the stage name Jeetendra. Their mothers were friends. Khanna gradually started taking interest in theatre and did a lot of stage and theater plays in his school and college days and won many prizes in the inter college drama competitions. Khanna became a rare newcomer who struggled in his own MG sports car to get work in theatre and films in the early sixties. Both friends later studied in Kishinchand Chellaram College(KC). When Jeetendra went for his first film audition, it was Khanna who tutored. Khanna's uncle changed Khanna's first name to Rajesh when Khanna decided to join films. His friends and his wife called him Kaka (Uncle).
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Khanna fell in love with the then fashion designer and actress Anju Mahendru. They were in a relationship for seven years. Mahendru states that the couple did not speak to each other for 17 years after the breakup. Later Khanna married Dimple Kapadia in March 1973, six months before Dimple's debut film Bobby released and has two daughters from the marriage. Khanna and Dimple Kapadia separated in 1984 as his schedule kept him away much of the time and Dimple became interested in pursuing an acting career, and thereafter lived separately, but did not complete the divorce proceedings. In the eighties Tina Munim was romantically involved with Khanna till the time she decided to leave the industry to pursue her higher studies. Years of separation brought about mutual understanding between Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia. Reporter Dinesh Raheja stated that “the bitterness between Rajesh and Dimple washed away", noting that they were seen together at parties and that Dimple campaigned for Khanna's election and also worked in his film Jai Shiv Shankar. Their elder daughter Twinkle Khanna, an interior decorator and a former film actress, is married to actor Akshay Kumar while their younger daughter Rinke Khanna, also a former Hindi film actress, is married to a London-based investment banker Samir Saran.
Early career (1966–1975)
Rajesh Khanna was one of eight finalists in the 1965 All India Talent Contest organised by United Producers and Filmfare from more than ten thousand contestants.Subsequently Khanna won the contest. He made his film debut in the 1966 film Aakhri Khat directed by Chetan Anand, followed by Raaz directed by Ravindra Dave both of which were a part of his predetermined prize for winning the All-India United Producers’ Talent Competition. G.P. Sippy and Nasir Hussain were the first to sign Rajesh Khanna after he won the contest. Aakhri Khat was India’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 40th Oscar Academy Awards in 1967. Khanna in an interview to Hindu newspaper said,"Though “Aakhri Khat” is my first film, I received my first break as a leading actor in Ravindra Dave's, “Raaz” in 1967. My heroine was Babita, already a popular actress then. Though I had lots of confidence, I was shy in facing the camera initially. In my first three shots, I had to perform with stress on my body language and dialogue delivery. Though I was right with my dialogues, my movements were not up to the mark. Ravindra Dave explained me my scenes and movements very clearly correcting my way of walking". Being under contract with United Producers, he got projects like Aurat, Doli and Ittefaq. He was then noticed for his performances in films like Baharon Ke Sapne,Aurat (1967), Doli, Aradhana and Ittefaq. Later Waheeda Rehman suggested Asit Sen to take Khanna for the lead role in Khamoshi. Through Aradhana he rose to "instant national fame" and film critics referred to him as the first superstar of India. In that film, Rajesh Khanna was cast in a double role (father and son) opposite Sharmila Tagoreand Farida Jalal. The film also saw the resurgence of Kishore Kumar, who eventually became the official playback voice of Rajesh Khanna. The Kishore Kumar-Rajesh Khanna combination worked miracles and it was almost impossible to see them as separate identities. They became a singer-actor duo and together they gave many songs till 1991.Then in year 1971, Haathi Mere Saathi became the biggest hit and also became the biggest grosser ever till then. Khanna is also credited with giving Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar their first chance to become screenplay writers by offering them work in Haathi Mere Saathi. Javed Akhthar accepted in an interview "One day, he went to Salimsaab and said that Mr. Devar had given him a huge signing amount with which he could complete the payment for his bungalow Aashirwad. But the film's script was far from being satisfactory. He told us that if we could set right the script, he would make sure we got both money and credit."
Rajesh acted alongside Mumtaz in eight successful films. They were neighbours and got along very well, and as a result they shared a great on-screen chemistry. After Khanna married, Mumtaz decided to marry millionaire Mayur Madhwani in 1974. At the time, she was doing three films Aap ki Kasam, Roti and Prem Kahani with Khanna. She decided to quit movies only after completing these films. When she left films Khanna felt very lost. In one of her interviews, Mumtaz was quoted saying "I would pull his leg and tease him about his fan following. Whenever Rajesh entered a hotel in Madras, there was a queue of 600 girls waiting to see him at midnight. As a result, even I would get some importance, as people would ask for my autograph as well. He was very generous with his associates, and would party a lot."
During the peak of his career he would be mobbed during public appearances. Fans kissed his car, which would be covered with lipstick marks, and lined the road, cheering and chanting his name. Female fans sent him letters written in their blood. There used to be a line of cars of his producers and hysterical fans outside his bungalow every day. ActorMehmood parodied him in Bombay to Goa where the driver and conductor of the bus were called 'Rajesh' and 'Khanna'. Even today, he remains the favourite of mimicry artists, who copy his trademark style and dialogue delivery. During the filming of Amar Prem there was a scene that needed to be filmed at Howrah Bridge with a boat carrying Khanna with Sharmila moving under the bridge. The authorities ruled this scene out as they realized that if the public found out that the hero of the film would be there, it may create problems on the bridge itself, and that it might collapse due to the amount of people trying to get a glimpse of their favourite actor. Film critic Monojit Lahiri remembers “Girls married themselves to photographs of Rajesh Khanna, cutting their fingers and applying the blood as sindoor. Rajesh was God, there has never been such hysteria.”
Several songs sung by Kishore Kumar in the 1970s were based on Rajesh Khanna. During the filming of the song 'Mere Sapnon Ki Rani' in Aradhana, Sharmila Tagore was shooting for a Satyajit Ray film and director Shakti Samanta had to shoot their scenes separately and then join the scenes together.In the seventies, his chemistry with Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz, Asha Parekh, Zeenat Aman and Hema Malini were also popular with audiences.
The BBC made a film on him, titled Bombay Superstar, in 1974, the shooting for which began the same time when he got married and his film Daag premiered. In the video it can be noticed that Khanna was shooting for Aap Ki Kasam. A textbook prescribed by the Bombay University contained an essay, 'The Charisma of Rajesh Khanna!'.
Sharmila Tagore said in interview to Indian Express, “Women came out in droves to see Kaka (Khanna). They would stand in queues outside the studios to catch a glimpse, they would marry his photographs, they would pull at his clothes. Delhi girls were crazier for him than Mumbai girls. He needed police protection when he was in public. I have never seen anything like this before and since.”
Music remained one of the biggest attractions of all Rajesh Khanna films throughout his career. Many of the musical scores for Khanna's films were composed by Sachin Dev Burman, R.D. Burman and Laxmikant-Pyarelal. The trio of Rajesh Khanna, Kishore Kumar and R.D. Burman went on to make a number of popular films, including Kati Patang,Amar Prem, Shehzada, Apna Desh, Mere Jeevan Saathi, Aap Ki Kasam, Ajnabee, Namak Haraam, Maha Chor, Karm, Phir Wohi Raat, Aanchal, Kudrat, Ashanti, Agar Tum Na Hote, Awaaz, Hum Dono and Alag Alag.
Rajesh Khanna had 15 consecutive solo superhits between 1969 to 1971, which is still an unbroken record in Indian film history. In calculation of the 15 films, 2 hero films like Maryada,Andaz and films with box office result as hits were excluded -Mere Jeevan Saathi, Choti Bahu and Shehzada.
Khanna considered Guru Dutt, Meena Kumari and Geeta Bali as his idols. Khanna dislosed in an interview," My inspirations include, Dilip Kumar's dedication and intensity, Raj Kapoor's spontaneity, Dev Anand's style and Shammi Kapoor's rhythm."
Between 1976 and 1978, Khanna acted in 4 box office hits and in nine films that were not commercially successful. Seven of the unsuccessful films were critically acclaimed and have achieved strong cult status over the years among the viewers and these films included Mehbooba, Bundal Baaz, Tyaag, Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein, Naukri, Chakravyuha andJanata Havaldar which were directed by Shakti Samanta, Shammi Kapoor, Din Dayal Sharma, Meeraj, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and Mehmood Ali, respectively. Khanna persuaded Samanta to cast his sister-in-law Simple Kapadia opposite him in Anurodh. Films starring Rajesh Khanna and directed by Shakti Samanta tended to be commercially successful, but Mehbooba was an exception. The change from romantic and social movies to action oriented multi-starrers caused the decline of Khanna's career in terms of box office ratings to some extent. The declaration of emergency in India had angered the masses and this helped films having the lead character revolting against corruption becoming successes. Actor Joy Mukherjee made Chhailla Babu, a suspense thriller in 1977, which became the only successful film of his as a director and the unexpected success of the Chhailla Babu gave a boost to the career of Khanna. However, Khanna continued basically in solo hero social sober household meaningful films during this era and played a variety of characters in films of various genres. During this phase too he had box office hits like Maha Chor, Chhailla Babu, Anurodh and Karm.
After 1978, Khanna starred in critically acclaimed commercially successful films such as Amardeep, Phir Wohi Raat, Bandish, Thodisi Bewafaii, Dard, Kudrat, Dhanwan,Ashanti (1982 film), Avtaar, Agar Tum Na Hote, Souten, Jaanwar, Asha Jyoti, Awaaz, Naya Kadam, Hum Dono, Babu, Aaj Ka M.L.A. Ram Avtar, Shatru, Insaaf Main Karoonga, Anokha Rishta, Nazrana, Angaarey, Adhikar (1986),Amrit, Awam (film) (from 1979–1991). Director Bharathiraja decided to remake his 1978 Tamil box office hit film "Sigappu Rojakkal" in Hindi with Khanna playing the role of a psychopath. Kamal Haasan who played the same role in Tamil won South Filmfare Best Actor Award for his portrayal. But the Hindi movie was seen as controversial by traditional and orthodox Hindi moviegoers and was not a commercial success, although Khanna's performance has been rated later higher by critics than the original.
Tina Munim and Rajesh Khanna became the leading on and off screen couple of the 80’s with hits like Fiffty Fiffty, Suraag, Souten, Aakhir Kyun, Bewafai, Insaaf Main Karoonga andAdhikar(1986). Ram Awatar Agnihotri wrote that Tina Munim showed the first sparks of the dedicated actress she would become in the films "Alag Alag" and "Adhikar", both with Khanna. His on screen pair with Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil,Padmini Kolhapuri and Poonam Dhillon was also popular in the eighties He also acted in the Marathi hit film "Sundara Satarkar" in 1981. He has performed in the least number of multi-starrer films in comparison to his contemporaries and portrayed the central character in the few multistarrers he acted. Khanna delivered multi-starrer superhits like Rajput, Dharm Aur Qanoon, Paapi Pet Ka Sawaal Hai, Zamana (1985), Dil-E-Nadan and Ghar Ka Chiraag. He did three potboiler movies with Jeetendra, which were blockbusters-Dharam Kanta, Nishaan and Maqsad. In the year 1984, his film Maqsad became the 2nd highest box office superhit film earning 8.5 crores. Aaj Ka M.L.A. Ram Avtar is one of the memorable political films of Rajesh Khanna. Khanna played the character of a corrupt politician in this film. Viewers praised his role in the film. The year 1985 saw him turn a producer with Alag Alag. Eleven films, with Khanna in the lead, released in 1985 and eight of these became hits and in addition had two films with him in special appearance. Before joining politics one of his last films as the lead hero was Swarg released in 1990. David Dhawan regards Swarg as his most favorite directorial venture and said in an interview " Swarg did well. Though a serious film, people even today talk about it as it struck a chord. I was working with Rajesh Khanna for the first time. I shared a good rapport with him. He never threw tantrums on the sets."
He experimented with films of different genres like tragedy in Babu as a rickshaw puller, thriller in Redrose as a psycopath, political adventure in Awam, negative roles in Dhanwan and Redrose, fantasy in Bundalbaaz and Jaanwar, crime in Phir Wohi Raat and Angarey, suspense in Chakravyuha and Iteefaq, comedy in Hum Dono and Masterji, action in Ashanti, family dramas like Aanchal and Amrit and Agar Tum Na Hote, variety of social films like Avtaar, Naya Kadam, Akhir Kyun and with different themes like reincarnation theme in Kudrat, patriotism in Prem Kahani, immature young love theme handled in different ways in films like Anokha Rishta, Nazrana and Dil E Nadan and did college romance in Bandish. He has played variety of characters as the lead hero – as a postman in Palkon Ki Chaon Mein, as a lawyer who proves that his senior has committed a rape 25 years earlier in Kudrat, as a politician in Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtaar, as a young musician forced by fate to marry two women in Asha Jyoti, as professional advocate in Awaaz, fisherman in Prem Bandhan, a revolutionary patriot who is torn apart by love and policeman like in Prem Kahanai, as a righteous farmer in Bandhan etc.
He shared a close relationship with R.D. Burman and Kishore Kumar. The trio were friends and have worked together in thirty two films. Work of Pancham with Khanna is regarded as legendary and far superior than any other actor-music director combinations. The king of playback singing Kishore Kumar had even credited Rajesh Khanna for his resurgence, so much so that he sang for Alag Alag, the first film produced by Rajesh Khanna without charging anything. In 1985 Pancham found himself being sidelined after failure of few films but Rajesh Khanna was among the few who continued to stand by him. Rajesh and Pancham worked together even after the death of Kishore in the films Jai Shiv Shankar, the unreleased film Police Ke Peechhe Police (both produced by Khanna ) and Sautela Bhai. Khanna even helped Leena Gangully and Amit Kumar in completing Mamta Ki Chhaon Mein, the last film directed by Kishore who died before the completion of the film.
Pyarelal quoted in an interview that “Rajesh Khanna was lucky for us and we were lucky for him too. From the 1969 Do Raaste to the 1986 Amrit, we gave hits together both as films and as music scores.... When we went on our first overseas concert tour in 1984, he came and danced to three songs. He was very particular about his music and would take a tape home if he could not assess a song. He would then give his feedback after a day or two. But if he liked a song at the sitting, he would loudly shout “Wah! Wah!” in appreciation…. It was God’s blessing that we came up with such a vast range of hit songs for him, including in his home productions Roti and films like Chhailla Babu,Chakravyuha, Fiffty Fiffty, Amar Deep and Bewafai. Incidentally, he had a stake in Mehboob Ki Mehndi too. He had great interest in music and a terrific sense of melody too. His music is dominated by Pancham (R.D. Burman) and us and we accepted Shakti Samanta’s Anurodh only because Rajesh Khanna had some misunderstanding with Pancham then and did not want to work with him." Khanna would always request music directors to fit in Kishore Kumar wherever possible. In fact, Kishoreda was very reluctant to sing "Waada Tera Waada" in Dushman and suggested Laxmikant Pyarelal to get it sung by Rafi. Then Laxmikant made Kishoreda meet Rajesh Khanna and Khanna winked at Laxmikant and told Kishoreda that in that case the song should be scrapped. On hearing this Kishore immediately agreed to sing it by himself for Khanna.
Actors who were part of the cast of most of his films include Ashok Kumar, Sujit Kumar, Prem Chopra, Madan Puri, Asrani, Bindu, Vijay Arora, Roopesh Kumar, Dina Pathak andA. K. Hangal, who remained part of his " working team" since the start until the late eighties. The lyricist whom he preferred for his movies was Anand Bakshi. Films by Shakti Samanta with Khanna in the lead, music by Pancham and lyrics by Anand Bakshi had people swooning over. The films Samanta directed without Khanna in the eighties were duds. His other close friends from the film industry include Raj Babbar, J. Om Prakash and Jeetendra.
Celebrities of the post-2000 era, like Madhur Bhandarkar, say that they take at least three or four turns in Carter Road even today only to see Khanna. The younger generation stars like Imran Khan still regard Rajesh Khanna as someone who would take the top slot as the most romantic hero of all time. Shahrukh Khan idolises Rajesh Khanna and has opined,"Rajesh Khanna you can’t touch". Actor Tom Alter confessed “I still dream of being Rajesh Khanna. For me, in the early 1970s, he was the only hero – romantic to the core, not larger than life, so Indian and real – he was my hero; the reason I came into films and he still is.” Actor Irrfan Khan accepted in an interview, "The kind of craze witnessed by Rajesh Khanna has not been duplicated by anyone. He was the biggest and the most real star Bollywood has produced. I'd say stardom is that feeling of being possessed by your idol; you are so overwhelmed with euphoria you lose touch with reality." Rajesh Khanna was the last superstar to set fashion trends. The trend of wearing guru kurtas and belt on shirts became famous in seventies and eighties because of Khanna.
Later career (1992-2012)
From the early nineties onwards he stopped acting and served as M.P. of New Delhi Constituency from 1991 to 1996. During that period, he returned to acting, playing the lead inKhudai(1994), which was about a father and son both falling in love for the same woman. After 1992, he appeared in only 10 films and declined most film offers. He made a comeback as a NRI in Aa Ab Laut Chalen(1999), and Kyaa Dil Ne Kahaa(2002) and played the solo lead in films Sautela Bhai in 1996, Pyar Zindagi Hai in 2001 and Wafaa in 2008. He did 4 television serials in the period 2000-2009.
Khanna was a life member of the International Film And Television Research Centre, the International Film And Television Club and the Asian Academy of Film & Television. He is the Guest Faculty of 'Specialized Cinema Courses At Asian School Of Media Studies'. On 10 April 1999 Khanna inaugurated the live concert of S.P. Balasubramanyam held at Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, Hyderabad as a tribute to Pancham. In 2001 and 2002, Rajesh played the lead in two television serials: Aapne Parai (B4U & DD Metro) andIttefaq (Zee TV). He performed in a video album based on Tagore's songs (Rabindra Sangeet) without payment. He also endorsed Star se Superstar tak – a talent hunt programme in 2007 and donated a Gold Trophy of Rs.1 crore. In its Silver Jubilee Episode on 14–15 March 2008, K for Kishore aired a Rajesh Khanna special. He signed on to star in a TV serial with Creative Eye Banner (Dhiraj Kumar) in 2007, and in 2008 performed in a TV serial, Bhabhima, with Leena Ganguly as his co-star. His successful TV serialRaghukul Reet Sada Chali Aayi began in November 2008 and ended in September 2009. Khanna cited the lack of good roles for actors like him in the films as the reason for him not appearing much in films after 2001. He said in an interview on being queried about his decision to do TV serials, "The reach of TV is much more than cinema today and one episode of my serial is likely to be watched by more people than a super-hit film". In 2009, on his 67th birthday, Shemaroo Entertainment released his films and a song collection titled Screen Legends-Rajesh Khanna-the Original Superstar. In May 2012, Havells, the fan making company endorsed Khanna as Brand Ambassador for their new ad campaign featuring him in solo advertisements.
Political and business career
Rajesh Khanna was a member of Parliament for the Indian National Congress, from the New Delhi constituency, where he won the 1992 by-election, retaining his seat until the 1996 election. When Khanna was MP, he worked full time as a politician and did not accept new acting assignements. After leaving parliament, he was a political activist for the INC and campaigned for the party during the 2012 Punjab election.
Illness and death
In June 2012, it was reported that Rajesh Khanna's health had been deterorating for some time, On 23 June he was admitted to Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai due to health complications. He was discharged on 8 July from the hospital and was reportedly fine.
On 14 July, Khanna was readmitted to the Lilavati Hospital but was discharged on 17 July. He died the next day at his bungalow, Aashirwad, in Mumbai due to kidney problems. Dr Trivedi, a spokesman for the hospital said that he cannot confirm the nature of the illness. However, a friend who acted as his spokesman during the illness had said his food intake had decreased over the previous days and he was "very weak." His funeral was due to take place on 19 July at 11:00. He died in the presence of his wife Dimple Kapadia, daughters Rinkie Khanna and Twinkle Khanna, son-in-law Akshay Kumar, grand children and other close relatives.
Following his death, there was a quick spate of reactions from within the Bollywood fraternity. Hema Malini said that "we always thought he would come back [from the hospital]. We are in shock right now." His son-in-law Akshay Kumar told reporters about his death and added that "he has gone to a nice and heavenly place. I am happy that he has gone there and hope that everyone will pray for him." Others celebrities who paid homage to him at his house included Rishi Kapoor, Prem Chopra and Sajid Khan. Shah Rukh Khanreacted on Twitter in writing: "To live with intention and walk to the edge. Play with abandon, choose with no regret. Smile and made us do the same. Sir, you defined our era. Whenever life felt tough u made us feel how love could change it all. RIP." Mumtaz also added that she had memories of having working with him; while Shahid Kapoor also wrote onTwitter: "RIP to the 1st king of romance...Rajesh Khanna." Subhash Ghai added that Khanna "was the powerhouse of Hindi film industry. I met him on the sets of aaradhna, he had some kind of energy and you will be charged when he is around you. His name will be written in golden words." Madhuri Dixit wrote on Twitter that "as nother of Hindi cinema's giants passes, Rajesh Khanna. Our sincere condolences to his family. We will miss him dearly." Vyjayanthimala commented that "his death is a big loss to the industry. It's my bad luck that I didn't have the chance to work with him because he came much later. I remember when he came to Chennai for some film shoot the college girls went crazy to catch a glimpse of him when he was going to his studio."
Additionally, those within the political spectrum that offered their condolences included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who said that he "convey[s] my heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family and countless fans and admirers of Shri Rajesh Khanna." INC President Sonia Gandhi also expressed her sorrow. Regional political leaders who offered their condolences included West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who said: "Rajesh Khanna was always a symbol of romance. His smiling face and the ability to connect with people at ease had made him popular. We lost a big pole star in the film world today;" as well as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who added that "his death has caused irreparable loss to Hindi cinema."
Condolences also came from Pakistan where Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf called Khanna a "great actor whose contribution to the field of films and arts would be long remembered. [He had a] large fan following across the borders and captivated audiences with his excellent acting skills." Ali Zafar wrote on Twitter: "Rajesh Khanna - RIP. So many fond memories from his movies and songs," while Syed Noor said: "Rajesh Khanna was such a huge actor of the subcontinent that he will be remembered by the people for many years to come. The era he reigned over is unlikely to be experienced by any other actor of this subcontinent." Geo TV also aired a nearly hour-long tribute with contributions from actors, filmmakers and musicians.