A tribute to India’s first superstar on his 76 birthday
December 29 is the seventy-sixth birth anniversary of Hindi cinema’s first and only Superstar. It was his unique personality which led to the use of the epithet “Superstar” for the first time in the country. No other word could have been adequate enough to describe his charm and mystique, his romantic persona and sensitive acting. He is the original and if one may say so, the only superstar of our film industry.
Rajesh Khanna, originally named Jatin Khanna, ruled like a monarch over the hearts of people for many years and continues to do so. His fame will remain immortal and his name will always be synonymous with fine acting and a rare charisma. Nobody has been able to match these after “Kaka” as he was fondly called by people close to him. Films like Anand, Safar, Amar Prem, Do Raaste, Kati Patang, Sachaa Jhoota, Haathi Mere Saathi and Aan Milo Sajna established him completely as the superstar after the effect he created with Shakti Samanta’s Aradhana in which the magic actually began.
People of Dehradun and Mussoorie have vivid memories of this phenomenal actor as he shot for three of his films in Doon and Mussoorie –two of them in the seventies and one in the 1980s. In fact, Rishikesh featured predominantly in his film Karm. Whenever he came to Doon or Mussoorie, he was at the peak of his career and people of the two towns exhibited the craze for him which was prevalent throughout the country.
The great actor’s interaction with students and staff of two of Mussoorie’s well-known schools namely Hampton Court and Wynberg Allen during the making of Karm in the seventies and Ghar ka Chirag in the eighties respectively endeared him to them. In Karm, the principal of the school was actress Sudha Shivpuri who later appeared as “Ba” in Ekta Kapoor’s soap titled “Kyunki Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu thhi.”
There are a number of scenes in Karm which show us the lovely campus of Hampton Court School(CJM).The Mohkampur area of the Doon valley (the railway crossing) is also quite recognizable. A considerable part of the film has been shot in Rishikesh which appears pristine and serene in the film-as it must have been in the 1970s.
Wynberg Allen School of Mussoorie, one of the oldest educational institutions in the region, appeared in Rajesh Khanna’s 1989 film Ghar Ka Chiraag which was based on the older film Ek Phool, Do Maali where Balraj Sahni plays the role which Khanna plays in Ghar Ka Chiraag.
Rajesh Khanna’s film Kati Patang shows us Nainital in all its glory and at length . And for once, Nainital has been called Nainital and not by some other name! The song “Jis Gali Mein Tera Ghar na ho Baalma” has Rajesh Khanna and Asha Parekh boating on the Nainital lake which looks absolutely beautiful in the film.
Many stars have visited Doon and Mussoorie but the memories associated with this magnetic personality cannot be ever dimmed from the hearts of his diehard fans and admirers.
In his book The Loneliness of Being Rajesh Khanna: Dark Star, Gautam Chintamani writes , “It is perhaps unimaginable to gauge the extent of Rajesh Khanna’s appeal today for the simple reason that every two-bit star who delivers a couple of hits is considered the next big thing. The madness of Khanna’s streak of success between 1969 and 1972 can be ascertained from the fact that he was the first Hindi actor whose films ran to full houses for months on end in non-Hindi speaking areas.”
Not just Doonites but the entire country will always love and remember this man and star whose popularity broke all records and set a new benchmark as far as looks and performance were concerned.
His magic is timeless and will be felt by each new generation that views his films. However, the euphoria he created among people in the seventies can never be experienced fully by people of later generations.
There has been no other star in the film industry who saw such a meteoric rise within such a short span of time, delivering seventeen blockbuster hits from 1969 to 1973. Before the screening of Aradhana in 1969, nobody knew or cared who he was. But once the film was seen, people wanted to know all about this versatile actor. He had become a “Phenomenon”.
There is that in his screen persona which is not easy to put in words. When one sees his films, one after the other, they weave their spell and make one understand why he succeeded in that
He was an actor and a superstar. He had substance as well as charisma. The innocence and freshness we can see in his performances, that vulnerable, lost look-all created a persona that gave joy to hearts and romance that made hearts skip a beat. Despite the idiosyncrasies in his personal life. Despite the tantrums, despite his troubled days when he faced failure.
All these cannot diminish the eternal beauty he agve to the world with his talent, charm and sensitive, flawless performances. Read more posts…