The phenomenon called Rajesh Khanna

I got a call from Tina,  my best friend from Australia at 4:30 AM today but was too sleepy to answer. I saw 2 missed calls from her when I woke up to stop the alarm.  Before I could go to my voice mail I opened FB on my phone itself and saw Pacifist’s post that said “‎*sob* *sob*” and had a link. And I knew it at that moment.

I knew he had been ill for some time now and was in hospital but when I read the news that he’s no more, and all the articles that talked about his stardom and the movies he had worked in, I had tears streaming down my cheeks and I didn’t even realize it for sometime.

I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything the whole day today. I’m feeling just so sad. So I thought I would at least pour out my feelings here and that might lift the burden a little from my heart.

Where do I start about this man? I was a carefree kid more than happy reading Fairy Tales, Roald Dahl series, Famous Five, Secret Seven and playing with the other kids in my neighborhood as long as as possible in the evenings. And that was a perfect life for me. One Friday evening, I was almost asleep at 9:30 when my Dad came, woke me up and took me to the hall where everybody else was already gathered, all prepared to watch a movie on Doordarshan. Movies were not even my last priorities back then. I didnt understand Hindi, to start with, so I was least interested in watching it. The movie that night was Amar Prem. But once the movie started, it sort of cast a spell on me and I sat and watched it till the end!  I dont know what I understood at that age but I was totally in awe, fascinated by it. Couldn’t believe that the movie was over. And then the rest, as they say, is a history.

When I saw Amar Prem that night, I fell head over heels in love with him. I had only heard from my Dad about his fan following, how crazy everybody was of Kaka back then, after Aradhana in 1969.   27 years later, in 1996, when I saw Rajesh Khanna in Amar Prem, I was mesmerized by his demeanor.  I wasn’t spared by his charm at the age of 13, so I can imagine the frenzy he must have created in his hey days.

After that, I literally used to wait for Fridays and I never missed a single movie of his that came on TV in the following 3 years – Kati Patang, Daag, Roti, Aap Ki Kasam, Aradhana, Raja Rani, Prem Nagar, Bawarchi, Anand, Do Raste, Bandhan, Khamoshi, Apna Desh…. I dont know how many movies of his I saw in the years that followed.
I was in Nepal then. Sunday used to be a working day. Dad used to watch Rangoli regularly and while getting ready for school I used to catch a glimpse of few songs here and there. My Dad has a huge collection of old songs. So, even though I didnt know the language and was not very interested in music then, quite a lot of songs were familiar. And slowly I started feeling good seeing those songs on tv and over a period of time started enjoying them. I slowly started recognizing the actors but I used to find all the actresses look the same. It’s only after I started watching movies, I started recognizing the actresses. And my definition of actresses back then was : Sharmila (Rajesh Khanna’s heroine in Amar Prem), Asha Parekh (she was the one in Kati Patang), Waheeda (the nurse in Khamoshi) and so on. Rajesh Khanna was one man who introduced me to this industry and most of the other actors/actresses. He was my first crush! All the others, including Shammi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Dev Anand, Manoj Kumar etc came a lot later in my life.

I have laughed and cried with him, mourned when his character died on screen, have fallen in love with him, sung and danced along when he sang, felt happy when he was happy and sad when he was sad, have learnt a lot about life from his movies. I have lived a very wide range of emotions with him. Though he wasn’t even aware of my existence, he’s been a part of my life ever since I watched him as Anand Babu that night in 1996! And today, the first thing I learn after I get up in the morning is that he’s no more. I felt so hollow, it felt as though I had lost a family member. And I’ve been so lost and disoriented the whole day.

Maximum numbers of songs on Zindagi that I know of are picturised on Rajesh Khanna. He’s taught us a lot about life and living through his songs and movies. So here are few of them that I can think of at the moment.

1. Zindagi kaisi hai paheli (Anand, 1971) : Anand has been one of my all-time favourites and I’ve seen it so many times that I’ve lost the count.  The climax is so good that everytime I watch it, I feel like I’m seeing it for the first time. And I keep wishing for some miracle to happen so that at least this time around, Anand doesnt die. The record and playback of  Amitabh’s Maut tu ek kavita hai to Rajesh’s Babumoshai, zindagi aur maut….the timing is so perfect that I, as an audience start praying and crying for Anand along with the rest of the characters in the movie. This movie is a lesson in itself – Zindagi badi honi chahiye lambi nahin. This song is so soothing and inspiring.

And towards the end, after Anand mara nahin, Anand marte nahin, we see the balloons flying taking us back to this song -
Jinhone sajaye yahaan mele
Sukh dukh sang sang jhele
Wohi chunkar khaamoshi
Yoon chale jaaye akele kahaan
Zindagi ……

2. Zindagi ek safar hai suhana (Andaaz, 1971) : Life’s unpredictable and we dont know what’s in store for us. So live the moment we have in hand to the fullest.
Maut aani hai aayegi ek din
Jaan jaani hai jayegi ek din
Aisi baaton se kya ghabraana

3. Zindagi ka safar hai yeh kaisa safar(Safar, 1970) : This song sums up what life’s all about – a journey. We all come to this world, live our lives and then go one day. When we are born, the only thing that we know for sure is that we are going to die someday. We neither know where  where life would take us and what it would make out of us. Then why do we fear death so much? Rajesh Khanna was one actor who romanced death with as much ease as he romanced his heroines.
Maine maut ko dekha nahin
Par shayad woh badi khuoobsurat hogi
Kambakht jo bhi usse milta hai jeena chhod deta hai

And the lines below from this song of his actually make death come across as something inevitable and yet, beautiful.

Zindagi ko bahut pyaar humne diya
Maut se bhi mohabbat nibhayenge hum
Rote rote zamaane mein aaye magar
Hanste hanste zamaane se jayenge hum

4. Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hai jo muqaam (Aap Ki Kasam, 1974) : I actually hated his role in this movie when I had first watched it when I was around 14 years old. I kept asking myself, he’s the hero, he’s supposed to know. How can he suspect his wife like that and ruin everybody’s life? Time that’s gone once never comes back again, it’s only the memories that remain and come back to haunt. To err is human, but does one pay so heavily for his mistakes?
Yunhi waqt chalta hi rehta hai rukta nahin…
Ek baar chale jaate hai jo din raat subah shaam woh, woh phir nahin aate

5. Zindagi pyaar ka geet hai (Souten, 1983) : It’s love that makes life beautiful but life’s not always about love and joy and happiness. Where there’s life, there’s death; where there’s despair, there’s hope, where there’s love, there’s pain….without pain, sorrows and tears one would never learn to appreciate the true value of happiness. No matter how tough things get in life, one should always try to see the silver lining in the cloud, should never give up hope.

Zindagi ek muskaan hai
Dard ki koi pehchaan hai….
Zindagi ek mehmaan hai chhod sansaar jaana padega

6. Zindagi sau baras ki (Awaaz, 1984) :  I haven’t seen this movie, so I dont know much about the characters and the situation in which it is picturized. But   it’s so rightly said, no matter how long one lives, life’s always uncertain. The only thing that’s certain about life is it’s end – the death.

7. Nafrat ki duniya ko chhod ke (Haathi Mere Saathi, 1971) : Oh, how I had loved this movie and I remember crying along during this song. Today, Kaka is no more, all I would want to tell him is -

Iss jhoot ki nagari se tod ke naata jaa mere pyaar
Amar rahe tera pyaar, khush rehna mere yaar

8. Ek andhera lakh sitare (Aakhir Kyun?, 1985) : Life’s a gift that god has given us and we should appreciate it. It’s not always easy to achieve what we want in life, but it’s the struggle that makes it worth it.

Sabse badi saugat hai jeevan
Nadaan hai jo jeevan se haare

Dukh se agar pehchan na ho toh
Kaisa sukh aur kaisi khushiyan
Toofanon se ladkar hi toh lagte hai sahil kitne pyaare

These are the songs that I could think of on life. Rajesh Khanna was not just an actor or a superstar, he was my hero, my teacher. If I started watching Hindi movies because of him and learnt the language, I also learnt some lessons of life from him, from his movies. It sounds crazy and senseless but that’s been his impact on me.

Amar Prem – Love is immortal.
Kuchh toh log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna
Chhodo bekar ki baaton mein beet na jaye raina

Haathi Mere Saathi – Love animals. Humans are selfish, they might stab you and betray you but animals would never do that

Safar : Life’s a journey and one has to keep moving ahead
Nadiya chale chale re dhara
Chanda chale chale re taara
Tujh ko chalna hoga

Aakhir Kyon : Leave your past behind and work towards making a brighter future
Beete hue kal ke khatir tu aane wala kal mat khona

Anand : I have learnt to live from this movie!

Aap Ki Kasam : Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear. Little knowledge is dangerous, try finding out the full version of the truth before reacting.

Sachcha Jhoota : Dont go by the looks, looks are often deceptive
Dil sachcha aur chehra jhoota

Dushman : Being truthful isnt easy, it needs courage to accept your mistakes.
Sachchai chhup nahin sakti banawat ke ausulon se

Bawarchi : The joy of spreading happiness around you. Do small things for people you love, it makes them feel special.

Aavishkaar : Nobody’s perfect. We all have our faults and weaknesses. Learn to accept people with their imperfections.

And the list would just go on and on……

My Dad says he saw Aradhana 23 times in theater.  I always used to keep telling him that he had contributed his bit in making Kaka a Superstar. I have a friend named Aradhna. She says her Dad named her so after watching the movie.

This reminds me of one incident  -  Aradhna was my classmate in college. And there was a guy named Anand too in our class. One of my best friends, Moses, and I were discussing movies one day during lunch break in class. And it just happened that Aradhana was his favourite movie and Anand mine. A normal discussion ended up in an argument as to which is better. At the end of it we were just screaming Anand! (Me), Aradhana! (him), Anand!, Aradhana!
That’s when the bell rang and everybody walked into the classroom. Anand and Aradhna walked upto us and asked : What the hell’s going on? Why are you both fighting over us?

That was really hilarious!!!

I was in hostel during college days and we had only Doordarshan, that too with regional transmission most of the time. Moses used to call me and tell me everytime there was Anand coming on any of the cable channels and make me go green with jealousy. When I would go home during holidays, I would tell Dad – it’s been so long since I saw Anand. It’s one of those movies for which I have set an alarm and gone to sleep, then gotten up in the middle of the night to watch it. Something similar happened last week too. When I got up on Friday morning, I saw a post on one of the groups on facebook saying there was a special program (on making of Anand) on Vividh Bharati at 4 pm (IST), but by the time I saw it, the program was already over.  I found out the time of it’s repeat telecast, which was on Saturday morning, 10 AM (IST), that’s Friday night 12:30 AM for me. I set a reminder and tuned into Vividh Bharati at 12:30 AM just to listen to it.

There are so many incidents like these that make him and his films and his songs so special for me. We never lose people we love, they live in our hearts for ever.

Woh kal bhi paas paas tha
Woh aaj bhi kareeb hai

P.S. : A big thank you to Nisha for the banner!

He’s now beyond all pains and illness and am sure he had warm welcome up there. Rest in peace, Kaka!

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25 Responses to “The phenomenon called Rajesh Khanna”

  1. Contentwriter Says:

    Amazing moments and memories, depicted so very beautifully.. keep writing, because when you write about these Oldies, you capture my thoughts and the way you bring them onto paper is marvelous. God bless You.

  2. himavathi Says:

    very heart touching re’view’ dea achu……….u kno from yesterday onwards, i have been watching on all the tv channels n reading al the newspaper articles, today i got almost all the newspapers possible early in the morning n was going thru ‘kaka’(cuz in ofc i mite not get the paper :-( )…….n then suddenly i saw this post of urs on fb n it shows me that….how u as a baby in nepal fell in love with bollywood <3 , i reallliiiiii love reading ur articles <3 to share it across with my dear frnds daling……keeep going, may GOD bless u swthrt !!

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      Hey Hima,
      Thanks!
      Yes, films, songs and everybody/everything involved with them have become such a vital part of my life now, I just cant do without them.
      Do share some of those articles, I just have access to online news here.

  3. dustedoff Says:

    This is really a coincidence, because the tribute I’ve written up for Rajesh Khanna also centres around his ‘zindagi‘ songs.

    Nice tribute, Archana. Very sensitive and from the heart. RIP Kaka, indeed.

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      Thank you, Madhu! He did feature is so many Zindagi songs and with all those dialogues from his films all over on internet, all I could think of was how uncertain life is.

  4. Nasir Says:

    Thanks for the article on Rajesh Khanna and I must admit you have written with zeal of a true fan, with conviction and passion!

    I have lived during those times and know how crazy the younger generation was for Rajesh Khanna. There were quite a few actors themselves who used to ape him. One such actor was Kiran Kumar (Actor Jeevan’s son).

    As for me, I remember him for one special reason which I don’t mind revealing. During the time of my unemployment, I too had applied for that Talent Hunt by the United Producers but of course I did not make it. The best man won!

    May his soul rest in peace!

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      Thank you, Nasir ji for dropping by. There are just so many memories associated with his movies. And he was such a household name that he’s almost like a family member.
      Oh wow!!! Just applying for it must have been an experience in itself. Destiny sirji…whatever happens always happens for the best :-)

  5. Ava Suri Says:

    Such was his charisma, no one could be untouched by him, even if they met him after years. Anyone who watches Aradhna will be bowled over by the handsome young man who plays Arun and Suraj.

    This is a beautiful post, Archu.

  6. Suchi Says:

    Classic tribute to an Icon of our generation. We grew, sang, danced & followed him like mad those days and it’s still unbelievable his personal life was so sad, he was almost left alone to die. What a tragedy to the King of Romance. Every actress of yesteryears have something to owe to Rajesh saab. Indeed even in his personal life he was a great character and a sublimly humble man. Rajesh saab u will forever rule our hearts, without an Iota of doubt. U were pure magic!!!

  7. raja Says:

    Beautiful, wonderful tribute. I didn’t know you were also a big fan of Rajesh Khanna. I only know you as a big fan of today’s RK. :-)

    I feel we are all a family here, mourning a loss of a family member. Indeed many of his songs were about the philosophy of life and death. How death is inevitable, how it should not be feared, how life should be lived and enjoyed to the full…all of that.

    Now that he is gone, I feel a type of loss that I cannot describe. It will take me a few days for sure to get over it. I’ve been watching his songs continuously – particularly “mere naseeb mein aye dost tera pyar nahin” (listen to this and you start crying) and “maine tere liye hi saat rang ke sapne chuney” (what a beauty this is!).

    You are allowed to cry – lucky for you, your name is Archana not Pushpa. ;-) PJ, I know – can’t help it! :-)

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      Thank you, Papa! I finally completed this post. I do love today’s RK but he doesnt stand anywhere close what Kaka was or his forefathers were in my life.

      I havent got over it still. I’ve been watching his songs on youtube all weekend and it’s so hard to believe that he’s no more. I was listening to Zindagi ka safar yesterday while completing this post and the realization hit me so hard, it rendered me speechless, yet again but with a greater impact this time.

      PJ’s do make life easier…and yes, we are a family there too. Just cant live without PJs :-)

  8. harveypam Says:

    Well-written obituary, Archana!
    I find it absolutely cute that while other fathers send their children to bed at 09:30 pm, yours pulls you out of the bed and asks you to watch Amar Prem. Lovely!
    Rajesh Khanna was nice and cute no doubt, but he didn’t do much to me, but loved the fact that many of his movies had very good score by RDB or sometimes even by L-P. His pairing with Mumu makes every film of theirs watchable just for their chemistry with each other.

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      Well, now you know where all the paagapal comes from! Thoda sa hi sahi, kuch toh viraasat mein mila hai, baanki I acquired on my own ;-)
      I remember watching Bandini with Dad and I was literally lusting over Dharmendra. He almost disowned me ;-)

      Dad and Mom were in Hyderabad for a fortnight earlier this month. Dad was saying that he’s hijacked all my CDs/DVDs and taken them home with him, He saw Aakhri Khat over the weekend and we were discussing it’s story on phone yesterday.
      RK’s movies had good stories (though I personally prefer the likes of Bawarchi, Aavishkar, Dushman, Ittefaq, Aakhri Khat etc to the more commercially successful ones like Do Raaste, Aradhana) and music was of course good. It just couldn’t go wrong with RDB, Kishore and Rajesh together.

  9. preeti Says:

    hi dear, the way u have written dialogue from kaka’s pic Aanand is excellent ,yes very true Zindagi kab chali jaye,dont know ,but insaan wahi hai jo maut ko kabhi bhule naye,and karm ache karthe chale . bye dear this is preeti budhrani. take care

  10. Aradhna Prajapati Says:

    Hey Archu,
    I truely understand d way u feel. That morning when I got this news from my husband, I thought he was kidding nd jst wanted to see my reactions. inspite of knowing abt Kaka’s health conditions my heart couldnt accept this fact that he is no more.

    kaka has influenced my life too, as he did many others. My identity, my name is an influence of one of his awsome movie, Aradhana. My dad says, when he got d news dat I was born, he was watching this movie along with his friends during his training days. With all gud emotions my dad and his close friends has awarded me with this name :).
    Thanks Archu for pouring out ur heart feelings here. Somewhere I felt d words r mine too. Thanks for making me also a part of this tribute.
    May his soul rest in peace…!

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      Remember how much we used to talk about him and his movies in college? And the fact that you were named after his movie, how could I leave you out of this discussion? Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment! :-)

  11. Mausmi Says:

    Very beautifully written by you and very touching tribute, this shows how much you loved him. Same I feel about Superstar Rajesh Khanna. Many thing you said about feeling for Kaka, reminds my childhood day. I always loved him since childhood. He used to be my father’s favorite hero too. I remember “Haathi Mere Sathi” was my most favorite film during my childhood, I recall , when I was kid, all childerns of neighbour used to gather in evening to play. I had a toy car of two seats. Everyone’s turn come to sit in car and rest of them used to push the car, and along with singing a song together “Chal Chal Chal Mere Hathi….le chal khatara kheech ke, chal yar dhaka mar, band hai motar car”. The film was like a children film but i am glad that the film never was declared in children film category. Anand, this film i had also watched several times, and every time I used to cry in last. Kaka was really something in my life which can’t be descried. The day I came to know about his death, I was totally shocked…and first time in life, my emotions broke into tears, couldn’t able to control for a Man whom I never met. I came into silence, I didn’t talked to my mom, and brother properly whole week and after that also. They were also wondering me, and asked why are you so quite, not watching your favorite TV serials?, something that has shocked you? or any result has declared? But i didn’t able to explain it. Still I am helpless to get over his loss. I many more things in my memory of Kaka’s film. I guess if I’ll continue to write…it would be very long. I am posting my feeling here, because your piece on kaka touched me through heart. I also feel the same as you had felt for kaka. No other actor has such charisma as Kaka had in films.
    It’s already happened more than two weeks, he has gone. Some magic was there in him who never had allowed us to forget him, and never will. My father left this world in 2006, during his last day he used to listen his songs and watched his films. I am sure in heaven my father and kaka both has been met. I know they are now in the heavenly place, which is much better than this world. May God bless his soul.
    The same line from Kaka’s film, I want to express it for Kaka….

    “Maut ke baad sahi milne ka vaadha karlo
    Humne bhi kaunsi jeene ki kasam khayi hai”
    RIP KAKA!

  12. Mausmi Says:

    @Sunheriyaadein, yes! I got this lines from your link on Kishor kumar, which I liked most, so I added it. thank you.

  13. sudhakar Says:

    very very well feelings are depicted …………:)yahi meri haalath hain abhi………

  14. Nishi Chopra Says:

    Beautiful Tribute to a beautiful, beautiful man,
    The face, voice, mannerisms, movies, songs
    & of course his wonderful acting all spelt magic! He was my first crush as a teenager too, I was introduced to him around 1982 by
    my beautiful mum through a vhs of ‘Aradhana’
    no less & from the moment he appeared singing ‘mere sapno ki rani’ I fell hook, line & sinker! My 5yr old daughter now sits with me
    watching his films & singing those timeless songs & she’s mesmerised…the Rajesh Khanna Magic lives on……’mere dil ke chein’ indeed!

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