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Memories of a Superstar

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Rajesh Khanna wrote a letter to a young fan years ago. The fan, now grown up, goes down memory lane

For someone who got hooked on to Bollywood movies in the early 70s Rajesh Khanna was more than just a superstar. He was a marvel.

All those Shammi Kapoor fans amongst us in school shifted loyalties with no attaint. Most of us missed his Aakhri Khat and Bharon Ke Sapne. But with Aradhana we turned die-hard fans, bunking classes to jostle our way to the front seats of the city theatres for the first day first show of every Rajesh Khanna movie.

We were only a few among the millions of his fans. There were girls who got ‘married’ to his photograph, others who hysterically pulled at his clothes when they managed to get close to him, people stood for hours on the road to catch a glimpse of the superstar as he whizzed past in one of his swanky cars.

Those days most of the film magazines carried a fan mail section that gave us the addresses of the stars and also included some of the ‘best’ letters written to them. In a scrappy, typically student-like hand we wrote letters to them. I sent one to Rajesh Khanna too, this one more out of hope than anything else.

Getting a letter in your name was big at that age. And it was a huge surprise when I got one from Indian cinema’s first and original superstar.

In his neat hand he wrote: Every time I get a letter from you I earn a new friend…An actor needs but two words of warmth and recognition and when I get these from you I am filled with gratitude….You encourage me to strive harder and give my best as an actor, and believe me I am always out to please you… Also included was an autographed photograph of the star.

The letter listed eight of his forthcoming films, Amar Prem, Apna Desh, Maalik, Dil Daulat Duniya, Tyaag, Dushman, Raaja Rani and Daag. They were some of those films that came after his record feat of 15 straight box-office hits.

I just don’t know what made me and so many others like this actor. Surely you don’t judge films and actors critically at the age. Looking back, it must have been his romantic looks, the chartbuster songs in his films and some unexplainable magic.

As one grew up and matured, when one became more critical and analytical,one began questioning.

But that letter he took time to write and send to a ‘friend’ down South would remain a treasured possession. And Rajesh Khanna will always be an eternal favourite. Like he said in that recent television commercial no one could take away his fans.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 8:55:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Memories-of-a-Superstar/article12760225.ece

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