As a millenial, whenever the word superstar is thrown at me, I hear just one name pop into my head – Shah Rukh Khan. But he too hasn’t achieved the kind of superstardom that Rajesh Khanna did in his hey days, when he delivered 15 hits in a row between 1969 and 1971. A record that earned him the title ‘The Original Superstar.’
From films like Anand, Baawarchi and Aavishkar to songs like Chingaari Koi Bhadke, Yeh Shaam Mastani and Jai Jai Shiv Shankar, Rajesh Khanna has brought a smile to the faces of millions of Indians over the years. As a person, Rajesh enjoyed his superstardom a lot, but was equally paranoid about losing it. In an interview he gave to BBC for the 1973 documentary Man Alive, Rajesh says, “It’s fabulous to feel popular. I think a star does twinkle.”
“Do you have to fight to stay at the top? There’s more to staying a star than just acting isn’t there?,” he is asked.
“Hmm. Part of it, yes. One has to be a little cruel,” Rajesh replies.
“Can you give me an example of that?,” he is asked again.
“As you just said, one has to fight and fight well. And win the battle. That calls for a lot of things,” he answers cryptically.
“Do you plan your strategies alone?,” he is asked.
“I do most of the things intuitionally. Impulsively. Just wait, and things do happen the way I want them to,” he replies.
As for his fandom, people were crazy about him and thousands flocked to catch a glimpse of their hero wherever he would shoot. It’s said that when he married Dimple Kapadia, so many women were heartbroken and some even committed suicide. In those days, love marriages weren’t common, so when Rajesh Khanna would romance on screen, they would fall in love with him. His incredibly handsome face and that sparkling smile too helped his cause. There was a way in which he did something as simple as blink his eyes and it created cinematic magic.
Years later, when his stardom died down, Rajesh Khanna did make some regrettable choices like acting in Wafaa. But there’s this Havell’s ad, where he says, “Babumoshai! Mere fans mujhse koi nahin chheen sakta.”
Indeed, we agree.