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
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!