Fans braved scorching heat of the sun and torrential downpours outside his bungalow to have a glimpse of him. Female fans got themselves married to his photograph and sent him love letters written in blood. Such was the fan following of Rajesh Khanna, considered India’s first ‘Superstar’. Born on December 29, 1942, Kaka as he was affectionately called, Khanna holds a unique record for 17 consecutive hits as a solo actor. This feat has not even matched so far.
Yes. That’s true. The likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan have not been able to emulate such a larger-than-life track record which Kaka boasted of. Salim Khan, the famous scriptwriter of yesteryear who formed a superhit duo with Javed Akhtar, wrote a foreword for Yasser Usman’s book Rajesh Khanna: The Untold Story of India’s First Superstar. He said.
Rajesh didn’t just make a name for himself, but in a short span of time took his stardom to a new peak. From 1969– 75, I saw his superstardom at close quarters and I have no hesitation in stating that the heights of stardom he reached have never been achieved by any other star in the world of Hindi cinema. His success was exemplary.
Between 1969 and 1975 when he was at the zenith of his career, Rajesh Khanna possessed a Midas touch with his films setting the box office on fire. Aradhana, Khamoshi, Anand, Kati Patang and several other hits propelled him to great heights of stardom.
He was often riled by his critics for being moody. Directors complained about his late arrival on sets, and his arrogant behavior. But through the box office numbers he was able to silence his critics. In later years when his superstardom went on a decline, detractors often cited the above reason behind his downfall.
It is often difficult to maintain success than to achieve it. Khanna’s story was exactly the same. After enjoying unparalleled success, his career went on a downward spiral. His lean patch coincided with the rise of another superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who had worked with him in Anand. Khanna dabbled in politics and attempted a comeback with Rishi Kapoor’s Aa Ab Laut Chalein and later with Wafaa, but he failed. After a prolonged illness, he breathed his last on July 18, 2012.
Throughout his life, he acknowledged his fans, saying whatever he achieved in his life was because of his fans. An old video shows how much people continued to respect him.
Even after four years since he passed away, his fans remember with him a lot of respect.