When I heard Rajesh Khanna is no more, it did not strike me so hard. We knew he was ill, we knew his once-estranged-wife had made peace with him recently, we knew (thanks to the Havel’s ad) that he looks shockingly frail and old now. All of it probably had prepared us, to some extent, to be ready for the worst.
However, as the day passed and the TV channels beamed montage of the old songs and scenes – the famous smile, the tilted head and the glimmer in the eyes rushed back into the mind. And I suddenly realized the loss. It is not that I thought he was a great actor or his movies were great – far from it. But the songs, oh, the songs! The songs that he had in his movies were the ones which I grew up with. Mind you, it was not the 1960s or the 1970s, but the 1990s. Even then the songs were as popular. It is not surprising because even today, in 2012, those songs seem to have not suffered any dip in popularity.
That is why, even a few decades down the line, when you would be downhearted and will feel like ‘zindagi ka safar….koi samjha nahi, koi jana nahi’, or when you are hurt by the world and say ‘kuchh to log kahenge, logon ka kam hai kehna’, or even when you would be with your beloved and hum ‘woh sham kuch ajib thi…’, at the back of your mind, you will see a glimpse of this handsome man with a smile and the glimmer in his eyes.
It took some time for the feeling to sink in. I do not belong to the generation who has seen the first superstar of Hindi movies in the movie theatres or read about his legendary antiques in gossip magazines, but for me, Rajesh Khanna would always remain the face of the songs which I have grown up listening to.
However, there was one thing I could not help thinking about, when I was reading about the eulogies about Khanna in the past few days and see the crowd in his last journey. Khanna had lead his life in his own terms. He had been the biggest superstar and had pretty women swooning all over him – he had blown up everything and has ended up choosing horrible movies as comeback vehicle. But all said and done, here was a real man who has worn his heart on his sleeves. He has not hidden behind his PR people and publicists, he has not done ‘correct’ things to develop an image. That is why in today’s world when we see actors building up their images and doing politically correct TV shows and making socially relevant statements, we love a man like Rajesh Khanna who is terribly flawed and human.
This also brings to my mind another question. If the developments since his death are to be believed, it is quite evident that the public loves Khanna, it is evident that his fellow actors and the present corps of celebrities are awed by him. But could they not have shown this to him when he was alive? A man like Rajesh Khanna, who lived for the fame and popularity, would have loved it. Instead of a situation where he probably felt that his ‘fans’ are merely mechanical fans instead of humans (irony of a brilliantly conceptualized ad, I’d never forget), could we not have made him felt loved and wanted while he was in his self imposed exile from the 1990s till the end?
Never mind Kaka…..choro bekar ki baaton mein kahin beet na jaye raina…
Here, cheers to you!