Cinema

Entire nation was his fan: Subhash Ghai

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“I don’t believe he is no more. We have to face this bitter truth that everyone has to go someday. Looks like God is upset with the film industry. Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Dara Singh and now Rajesh Khanna — we are losing legend after legend,” veteran actor Manoj Kumar said, reacting to the passing away of superstar Rajesh Khanna here on Wednesday.

Mr. Khanna, fondly known as ‘Kakaji’, whose stardom in the 1960s and 1970s knew no bounds, died at his residence in suburban Bandra. He was 69.

The yesteryear actor had been battling health problems for long, and was recently hospitalised twice for exhaustion, weakness, and low blood pressure.

“I regret to inform that my father-in-law, Mr. Rajesh Khanna, is no more,” Bollywood star Akshay Kumar told reporters outside the residence.

“He [Mr. Khanna] has gone to a nice and heavenly place. We are happy for that. We want to tell everyone who is watching to pray for him,” Mr. Akshay Kumar said.

As news of Mr. Khanna’s demise spread, a galaxy of film stars streamed into his residence. Superstar Amitabh Bachchan arrived with his actor-son Abhishek Bachchan in tow. Among the celebrities who came were actors Dharmendra, Rishi Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Shabana Azmi, Ranjeet, Prem Chopra, Poonam Dhillon, Malaika Arora Khan, Arbaaz Khan, Sanjay Kapoor and Satish Shah; directors Yash Chopra, David Dhavan and J.P. Dutta; and santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, along with a delegation of Congress leaders, visited the actor’s house.

Talent contest

Mr. Khanna’s contemporary, Dheeraj Kumar, recalled his rise to stardom. “In a talent contest in Mumbai in the 1960s, three were selected to be actors among some 10,000 aspirants — Rajesh Khanna, myself and Subhash Ghai, who went on to become a director. So our journey in the industry started together. Subsequently, he became a superstar.”

Mr. Kumar acted with Mr. Khanna in the 1977 film Tyaag, and later worked with him in 2009 in a television series.

“Rajesh went out of the orbit of stardom when he wasn’t a movie star. He went into politics. In 2009, I worked with him again for the series. He really had no dearth of anything, but his passion for acting was still there. On the first day of shoot itself, he sat down with me and said we should discuss the next day’s scene. His passion was as it was in 1965-66. That speaks volumes of the man. Many misunderstood him as a moody person. But he was an open book. Since we began our careers together, we always shared a bond and had regard for one another. Rajesh Khanna’s name has been etched in the pages of film history and it would be extremely difficult for anyone to take that place,” Mr. Kumar told The Hindu on the phone.

“We started our journey in movies together and encountered many sweet memories with him. Rajesh Khanna redefined the title superstar of Indian screen with his dynamic personality and style in acting and singing on screen. The whole nation was his fan. I saw his power on the industry, people and the media. I want to see if any actor in future would remain in the throne of superstardom for 15 years constantly. An era has come to an end. What remain are his imitable style and memorable movies like Anand and Aradhana,” Mr. Subhash Ghai told The Hindu.

Huge police security was provided outside the Carter Road promenade, where Rajesh’s bungalow ‘Aashirwad’ stands. A portion of the road was closed due to traffic. Fans thronged the place and a battery of journalists could be seen outside the residence.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 4:46:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/entire-nation-was-his-fan-subhash-ghai/article3654575.ece

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