Thursday, July 26, 2012

Superstar - Rajesh Khanna

Rajesh Khanna 
Born on 29 December 1942 as Jatin Arora; a Bollywood actor, film producer, a politician and the "Original Superstar" of Indian cinema. He earned these titles following 15 consecutive solo hit films in the 1970s, a record that remains unbroken. He was the highest paid Indian actor from 1970–79 and shared the honour with Amitabh Bachchan from 1980-87. It is said that he was the only actor who delivered 15 consecutive hits. Known to be the most romantic star of the era, Rajesh was usually paired with Mumtaz or Sharmila Tagore. Rajesh Khanna actually introduced a lot of actresses on the big screen and the most prominent among them was Mumtaz who paired with him in 15 films. 

Rajesh Khanna made his debut in 1966 with Aakhri Khat , which went unnoticed. However that didn’t deter his spirits. He rose to prominence with his performances in films like Raaz, Baharon Ke Sapne, Ittefaq and Aradhana. He appeared in 163 feature films of which 128 films saw him as the lead protagonist; he appeared in 17 short films as well. He gave 35 Golden Jubilee Hits in the period 1966-1975, three more in 76-78 and 35 more in the period 1979-1991 and gave 22 silver jubilee hits in the period 1966-1991. Rajesh Khanna was an extremely popular star of the 1970s. Some of his superhit films include Aradhana, Sachaa Jhutha, Haathi Mere Saathi, Amar Prem, Do Raaste, Anand, Avtar and Souten.  

He won three Filmfare Best Actor Awards and was nominated for the same fourteen times. He received the most BFJA Awards for Best Actor (Hindi) – four times and nominated 25 times. In 1991, he was awarded the Filmfare Special Award for completing 25 years in the industry, appearing in a record 106 films as the single lead protagonist in a span of 25 years. In 2005, he was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. Khanna married Dimple Kapadia in March 1973, six months before Dimple's debut film Bobby was released. Though the couple was separated in 1984 but Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia kept in touch with each other. He was known as one of the first casanovas in Indian cinema. He was also a Lok Sabha member of the Indian National Congress from New Delhi constituency from 1992 to 1996.

Aradhana was Shakti Samanta's story around his mother. The image of the young widow has featured also in Kati Patang and Rajesh Khanna is the angel who comes to rescue the widow out of her loneliness. It is as if Rajesh Khanna was part of Shakti Samanta's search for a lover for his young widowed mother. 
Rajesh is a saviour who comes in to breathe life and loveliness into women, ignored and isolated. No wonder then Rajesh Khanna is a fantasy for those who are hemmed inside homes, pincered inside spaces defined for them, in their fixed social roles with predefined expectations. He is an invitation for such souls to fly out, to float out, and to experience the openness of space and the lightness of air. This openness was his appeal; this lightness, his illumination. 

Rajesh Khanna's progenitor was Shakti Samanta, but the man who settled him in superstardom was Hrishikesh Mukherjee. In two films, Anand and Bawarchi, Hrishikesh makes the final articulation of Rajesh Khanna's spirit - the man who provides pleasure, the man who assures but himself remains unnoticed and unseen. This is why the huge life-giving force of Anand had to be concealed in his imminent death, and why Rajesh Khanna had to disappear into oblivion after he settles everything for the chaotic household in Bawarchi. Oblivion, one can say, was Rajesh Khanna's final destiny for the light-giver cannot be seen. 

He could never have been "around" in the way Amitabh Bachchan is. Principally, such continued presence beyond the screen would have been contrary to Rajesh Khanna's appeal. One could also say that Rajesh Khanna was the person who also helped two other superstars: SD Burman (and later RD Burman) and Kishore Kumar. The latter wanted to expand; 'give me more space to move' he would say, 'make me faster, lift me higher'. SD would despair at Kishore because the scale had only seven notes. Then all of them found Rajesh Khanna -- the body so rhythmic, one that had such lightness of being. Several of the popular songs sung by Kishore Kumar in the 1970s were picturized on Khanna and it also helped his films become successful.

In the opening song of Aradhana, Rajesh Khanna atop the jeep drives alongside the train singing in Kishore's voice, 'Mere Sapnon Ki Rani', with Pancham's mouth organ keeping the beat and as Rajesh sways almost like the thin breeze against the vast landscape and rolling hills, Kishore's voice gets the broad movement that he has always looked for. Kishore's voice leaves his body and embraces the world. Rajesh carries the voice, impersonates the spirit of the music and together with Kishore's voice and SD's music weaves together the vastness of the landscape and the pace of the train. 

Asha Bhonsle recalled in a show how Shakti Samanta, RD Burman, Kishore Kumar and Rajesh Khanna would sit together. Rajesh would act out what he felt was the essential rhythm of the film, RD would adjust his beats and Kishore his tone. Anand Bakshi would compose his lyrics out of this mood. Rajesh Khanna was the personification of the song in the Hindi film; that song which is supra lingual and comes into play where verbal articulation must be transcended. No wonder it is difficult to talk about him, but easy to sway in small pulses to the softer rhythms of music, just like his mannerisms were.

Rajesh Khanna, India’s first superstar breathed his last in the afternoon of July 18, 2012 after battling prolonged illness.

No comments:

Post a Comment