Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rajesh Khanna portrait November 9, 1969

A portrait of Bollywood star Rajesh Khanna on November 9, 1969. He shot to fame with the film "Aradhana" which was hugely successful at the box office this year.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Shatrughan Sinha remarks On Wafaa

Q.What do you think about the comeback of Rajesh Khanna and his film Wafaa?
Ans.I certainly hope,wish and pray for my most deserving friend Rajesh Khanna’s comeback with a bang but I don’t think much of his last film Wafaa which fortunately I haven’t seen.
(Asked by Sanjay Rana from Chennai in Filmfare issue of 18 March 2009 Sawal Jawab with Shatrughan Sinha

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Safar:A memorable journey

Producer:-Mushir Riaz
Director:-Asit Sen
Cast:-Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore, Feroz Khan
Release Date:-1970

Asit Sen's 1970 hit Safar is a story of ordinary people grappling with staggering challenges and compromises. But in this refreshingly non-melodramatic fare, a murmur of protest, an escaped sob and a half-concealed smirk are the only emotional luxuries its characters afford themselves in the inexplicable journey of life, the eponymous safar of the title.

A famous song from this film emphasises the primordial requirement for coping instead of moping: Nadiya chale chale re dhara, chanda chale chale re taara, tujhko chalna hoga (The river flows on, as does the tide; the moon goes on, as do the stars; you too will have to move on).

Caught in the eddying whirlpool of emotions are Safar's protagonists Neela (Sharmila Tagore) and Avinash (Rajesh Khanna).

Safar is narrated as a long flashback from a greying Neela's point of view. Neela is a budding doctor who lives with her cynical writer-brother Kalidas (I S Johar at his deadpan best) and his wife (Aruna Irani). Avinash, their bachelor neighbour and friend, is a painter by profession and poet by aptitude. But behind his life-affirming smile lurks death. He suffers from cancer.

Neela and Avinash's touching match of compassion and artistic vivacity finds expression in the beautifully penned Indivar number, Jeevan se bhari teri aankhen, majboor kare jeene ke liye (Your eyes, so full of life, compel me to continue living).

But unlike Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anand (which also saw Khanna play a cancer patient who spreads bonhomie wherever he goes), Asit Sen's Avinash seems more real. He experiences pendulum-like swings from fierce optimism to brooding pessimism as he sings, 'Phool aise bhi hai jo khile hi nahee, jinko khilne ke pehle hi khiza kha gayee (There are flowers that never bloom, autumn sets in even before they can blossom).'

There is one unforgettable scene in Safar where you realise the import of the visual vis-à-vis the spoken word in cinema. When Avinash asks his doctor Chandra (Ashok Kumar) if he will live long, Chandra places an hourglass on the table. Avinash stares at the rapidly falling grains of sand; he doesn't need an answer.

Neela, too, is fighting to survive -- economically. She teaches Montu (Mahesh Kothari), the younger brother of a stockbroker Shekhar (Feroz Khan). But when she reprimands Montu for reading pornography during her tuition, she incurs the wrath of Montu's aristocratic mother (Nadira) and is sacked. A contrite Shekhar brings her back, this time as mistress of the manor. Neela had been reluctant to marry him, but Avinash compels her to think logically. Though Neela had been content savouring every moment spent with Avinash, hoping he would miraculously survive, she finally relents.

Scant hours after the nuptial night and a honeymoon vow about 'Jo tumko ho pasand wohi baat karenge (I will only say what pleases you)' -- picturised imaginatively on the ghats of Mahableshwar with the sound of a car's honk serving as musical accompaniment to Mukesh's masculine voice -- the husband changes his tune. He resents Neela's visits to Avinash. He sees a hidden agenda in simple gestures like Neela rearranging Avinash's bedsheets.

The drama now revolves around the question: which of these two men -- one eaten up with jealousy, the other by cancer and misplaced sympathy -- will win the right to ruin Neela's life even more?

The film affords a fascinating study of the link between worldly success and male self-worth in the sequences where Shekhar, after losing heavily in the share market, distracts himself by obsessing over the possibility of Neela's infidelity. His desire to divert his attention so that he can feel less uncomfortable in his own skin is a sad but telling comment on human nature. Shekhar ultimately commits suicide by getting an unsuspecting Neela to give him a drink laced with poison.

The film folds up when the court acquits Neela of Shekhar's murder after his mother testifies in her favour. The mother's motivation for clearing Neela remains shrouded in ambiguity. Portions of the film are perhaps a bit too opaque for its own good.

Thereafter, Safar limps unnecessarily to show a dying Avinash unattended by Neela who is busy with an emergency. Montu's screaming declaration to Neela that she was responsible for Avinash's death, and her subsequent reaction that he shouldn't address her as sister-in-law any more, leave one a trifle baffled. The only conclusion one can hesitatingly draw is that Neela has decided to be unencumbered by emotional attachments so that she can unreservedly serve mankind.

Rajesh Khanna beautifully conveys his character's desperation and his conviction that surviving by a slender thread is not really living.

Sharmila Tagore is a study in stoicism. She is largely effective, but does blow up a couple of crucial scenes due to her preoccupation with mascara and mannerisms.

It is Feroz Khan, in an author-backed role, who singes you with his simmering jealousy. The potassium cyanide he consumes to kill himself seemed like the external manifestation of the suspicion he is consumed by.

If only the motivations for Sharmila's character weren't so often left to the viewers' interpretation, Safar would have featured higher on the list of all-time classics. Instead, it emerges as a collection of impressive segments.

Memorable dialogue

Sharmila Tagore (remarking on Feroz Khan's unremitting jealousy): Suyee jab record par atak jaati hai, sangeet nahee shor nikalta hai (When the needle gets stuck on the record, you hear noise instead of music).


Within six months of winning accolades for his performance as a dying man in Safar, Rajesh Khanna played another memorable cancer patient in Anand.

After Safar's premiere, Meena Kumari remarked to Nadira that Rajesh Khanna looked too ruddy-cheeked to be a cancer patient. Nadira promptly conveyed the message to Rajesh Khanna.

Feroz Khan won a firm foothold in the industry by immediately following his flamboyant act as the corrupt builder in Aadmi Aur Insaan with Safar.


One of Kalyanji-Anandji's best scores, Safar had Mukesh's haunting rendition of Jo tumko ho pasand. It suited Feroz Khan's rugged personality to the tee. Consequently, Feroz employed Mukesh's vocals in most of his films, including Apradh and Dharmatma.


Jeevan se bhari teri/Kishore Kumar
Zindagi ka safar/Kishore Kumar
Hum the jinke sahare/Lata Mangeshkar
Jo tumko ho pasand/Mukesh
Nadiya chale chale re/Manna Dey

By Dinesh Raheja

A thriller called Iqtefaq


Producer:-B R Chopra
Director:-Yash Chopra
Music:-Salil Chaudhary
Cast:-Rajesh Khanna, Nanda
Release Date:-October 1969

Today, acclaimed filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma is making waves for daring to film a songless Bhoot (Ajay Devgan, Urmila Matondkar, Fardeen Khan, Rekha, Nana Patekar). But B R Chopra showed similar gumption decades ago when he made two successful films without songs in the 1960s -- Kanoon (1960) and Ittefaq (1969). It is also apparent to any avid filmgoer that Varma's earlier film Kaun (Urmila, Manoj Bajpai) had a hangover, conscious or otherwise, of Ittefaq.

Acclaimed for its experimentalism at the time of its release, Ittefaq was planned by Chopra as a modestly budgeted, offbeat quickie primarily because his big-budgeted Aadmi Aur Insaan (Dharmendra, Feroz Khan, Saira Banu) had been delayed. He assigned the direction of this songless film -- always a rare phenomenon in Hindi cinema and even more so in the song-saturated 1960s -- to his younger brother, Yash.

The thriller begins with painter Dilip Roy (Rajesh Khanna) returning home to find his wife Sushma (Alka) murdered. His belligerent sister-in-law Renu (Bindu) accuses him of having killed his wife in a fit of rage. When Dilip breaks down and laughs hysterically during a court interrogation (in a Kafkaesque scene relying heavily on shadow-play to convey the court setting), he is sent to a psychiatric ward for treatment.

Dilip has the choice to do time either in prison or in a lunatic asylum. He creates a third option and escapes -- in a rather clumsy and amateurishly shot scene. Even in later years, action scenes have often proved Yash Chopra's Achilles heel.

With the police hot on his heels, Dilip gatecrashes into a mansion inhabited by a housewife Rekha (Nanda, wearing a figure-hugging chiffon sari throughout the film) and holds her at gunpoint. The hapless lady nervously divulges that she is alone as her businessman husband Jagmohan is in Kolkata.

For the next couple of reels, the film escalates the tension to fever pitch as the overtly sexy Rekha tries to free herself from Dilip's grip. She lunges for her husband's revolver, sneaks a phone call to the police station when a drenched Dilip excuses himself to change into her husband's clothes, and flashes a torch on her drawing room windows. She even keeps back a visiting doctor (Gajanan Jagirdar) and a police officer (Sujit Kumar) by offering them cups of coffee. But all her efforts come to naught.

Finally, Rekha changes her strategy. She decides to befriend Dilip. At this juncture, the director downplays the thriller aspect and concentrates on the subtle seduction game, with its undercurrent of carnal passion. Dilip and Rekha exchange intimate notes about their on-the-rocks marriages, while sipping whiskey and sherbet, respectively. This portion of the film is as slow as a well-thought-out chess move, yet involving.

The film regains its pace when Dilip discovers Jagmohan's body in the bathtub. He hysterically accuses Rekha of murdering her husband. Resorting to physical force, he forces Rekha to look into the tub -- but there is no body!

An enraged Rekha convinces Dilip he is hallucinating. But a phone call from Kolkata, inquiring after Jagmohan's return, reignites his suspicion. In a high-strung climax, the police break into Rekha's house to find Dilip and Rekha exchanging a flurry of allegations. A nail-biting battle of wits ensues.

In keeping with the tone of Bollywood's golden age, when sinners received just punishment for their onscreen acts, the film concludes with the murderer killing himself/herself.

The combative spirit between a seasoned performer like Nanda and the keen-to-prove himself novice Rajesh Khanna gives the film an edge.

A pre-Aradhana Rajesh is, by turns, effortless and overly excitable. His easygoing affinity works like a charm.

Nanda is the spellbinder here. Her character seems to be constantly in a state of emotional meltdown and she conveys it with a carefully controlled performance.

The lack of a glitzy supporting cast -- Sujit Kumar, unfortunately, is more wooden than a totem pole, Alka and Bindu were unknown names in those days -- works to the film's advantage because it leaves one clueless about the characters' ulterior motives. A cameo by Shammi, as a nosy neighbour who descends on Nanda while Rajesh is holding her captive, effectively serves as an air pocket in the breathless thriller.

Salil Chaudhary's background music, in retrospect, sounds like it's come from the Jurassic age. The sounds of suspense have undergone many tonal changes since Ittefaq.

This essentially two-actor film is basically a director's litmus test. Despite a few flaws in the film, Yash Chopra distinguishes himself. Some of the two-character scenes seem like stage-acting classes. The night scene, after the lights are switched off, could have been lit a shade less brightly. Also, Ittefaq's theme offers scope for intimacy rather than spectacle. Yash, however, lays emphasis on gloss and stylish treatment, often leaving you wishing for more subtext and psychological insights.

The plus factor is that the thriller keeps you guessing till the very end and has a satisfying climax. The ability to startle is the key to Yash's central characters. Besides, he casually plants details that pay off later. And he creates just the right ambience by employing rain-swept streets and a huge, curtained house as the backdrop for the often claustrophobic story.

Abetted by cameraman Kay Gee, he adventurously indulges in a lot of technical bravura. A low-angle camera offers us a view of an anxiety-ridden Rajesh as he is being walked to his cell by policemen, while a handheld camera staggers ahead of him to show us the reactions of the crowd assembled at his home after his wife is murdered.


* Ittefaq won Filmfare awards for Best Director (Yash Chopra) and Best Sound Recordist (M A Shaik).

* Mala Sinha, a favourite actress with the Chopra camp, was considered for the role of the adulteress.

* Rajesh Khanna and Nanda were paired in two more films, a comedy, Joru Ka Ghulam, and a thriller, The Train.

* Ittefaq, a quickie, was completed in a couple of months. Since Rajesh Khanna was sporting an unshaven look in Ittefaq, he had to sport a stubble in Do Raaste (co-starring Mumtaz), which was being shot simultaneously.

Music highlights:

* Salil Chaudhary, who had earlier composed the background music of Chopra's songless courtroom drama Kanoon (also a Nanda-starrer), was roped in once again for Ittefaq. He was renowned for his mastery over the background score. After Madan Mohan's untimely death, he also composed the background score of Gulzar's Mausam.

By Dinesh Raheja

Monday, January 5, 2009

Story of Rajesh Khanna debut

During the united talent hunt contest conducted by filmfare magazine in 1965 there were four winners Subhash Ghai,Dheeraj Kumar,Farida Jalal and ofcourse Rajesh Khanna.
Amongst the judges was the veteran filmmaker B.R.Chopra who had a very good eye for new talent.He noticed that this handsome young man stoodout from the other winners and he also showed the same spark which he had seen in Dilip Kumar after waching his debut movie Jwar Bhatta in 1944.At that time in 1944 B.R.Chopra was a journalist and not a filmmaker.
B.R.Chopra immediately signed Rajesh Khanna for his movie Raaz opposite Babita.During the making of Raaz he also signed up Aakhri Khat,Baharon Ke Sapne and Aurat which were actually art movies of that time.And to say that the credit of doing only art movies went to Naseeruddin Shah,Om Puri,Smita Patil,Shabana Azmi,etc was actually begun by Rajesh Khanna who became a very successful commercial film hero later.Raaz was released in early 1967 follwed by Aakhri Khat,Baharon Ke Sapne and Aurat in the very same year.These films did not do well at the the box office,but were critically acclaimed and Rajesh Khanna's performance as an actor was appreciated.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The magic of Sharmila,Rajesh Khanna and Amar Prem

Producer:-Shakti Samanta
Director:-Shakti Samanta
Music Director:-R D Burman
Stars:-Rajesh Khanna,Sharmila Tagore
Release Date:-11 February 1972

Amar Prem redefined the right time-right place magic. Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore were at the peak of their careers, Shakti Samanta was going through his most creatively fecund phase, lyricist Anand Bakshi was spurred by his success to outdo himself, and R D Burman, it seemed, could strike no wrong chords at all.

The treatment of Amar Prem's story and characters may not be entirely grounded in reality (Sharmila's religious, courteous and compassionate courtesan is a far cry from the beedi-smoking, venom-spewing prostitute she played in Mausam), but the film's emotional appeal is undeniable. It probably lies in the in-built romanticism of the story and the heart-in-your-throat evocation of the supreme selflessness of lovers.

Amar Prem contends that true emotional fulfillment need not necessarily lie in a fructified relationship which ends with a marriage and the average two kids; it can also be found in a nameless bond between a man and a woman that transcends convention.

The film opens to the strains of S D Burman's melodious lament Doli mein bithai ke, which instantly evokes a rural ethos and a lachrymose mood. Bruised village belle Pushpa (Sharmila Tagore) is returning home after having been abandoned by her philandering husband (Manmohan) for a younger woman.

Pushpa makes a valiant bid to start life afresh but the village youth openly make passes at her while the women treat her with contempt. She tries to drown herself in the village pond but is saved by the notorious Nepali babu (Madan Puri).

The director uses symbolism to indicate the rest --- the pot Pushpa had tied to herself to end her life is shown sinking into the pond.

Pushpa is sold to a brothel in Kolkata. Like in most Hindi films, she can sing like an angel.

On the night of Pushpa's singing initiation at the kotha, a dhoti-clad businessman Anand Babu (Rajesh Khanna), is instantly drawn to her voice. Anand always has a quip on his lip and the odour of whiskey on his breath. Later, in a rather stagy and incongruously amateurish scene, Samanta establishes Anand's loneliness. His wife squanders her time at beauty parlours and parties.

Romance, spurred by their shared feeling of abandonment, quietly embraces the two lonely souls. Anand becomes Pushpa's regular (exclusive, it is suggested) client. With his odd mix of cynicism and charm, Anand helps Pushpa come to terms with her life.

Later, a widower (Sujit Kumar) from Pushpa's village moves into the neighbourhood with his son Nandu and second wife (Bindu). Harangued by his stepmother, Nandu is drawn to Pushpa. Anand and Nandu now complete Pushpa's dream family, but Pushpa's reverie proves shortlived.

Honouring his family's wishes, Pushpa snaps off her relationship with Anand. Soon, Nandu too shifts with his family to another city.

Years go by. Pushpa is now a greying, bent and constantly-abused dishwasher at a lowly restaurant. The film climaxes with a series of events vindicating Pushpa's struggle, sorrows and sacrifices. Pushpa's now-blinded husband dies in her arms. Anand babu, who has left 'wine, women and wife', returns to her life and orchestrates a meeting between Pushpa and Nandu, now a well-to-do engineer (Vinod Mehra). Nandu takes Pushpa home, symbolically, on the day when other people are taking Durga Ma's idols home.

Samanta's strong point is his ability to draw us directly into his characters' lives. Though he resorts to a surfeit of cliches in establishing Pushpa's relationship with Nandu, he handles Pushpa's interdependent relationship with Anand Babu with commendable ease and maturity.

In a scene that showcases the filmmaker's sensitivity, Anand Babu suggests a boat ride to Pushpa when he senses her agitation at her mother's death. He assuages her with Bakshi's rare beauty Chingari koi bhadke, while she rests her head on his shoulders.

However, Samanta, in a bid to glorify Anand Babu in the climax, robs the film of some of its sensibility. The penultimate scene would have been far more effective if Nandu had offered to take Pushpa home without having to be prompted by Anand Babu.

Samanta tells the story of the people on the fringes of society with the assurance of one who has a keen insight into their minds. He dismisses people who make moral judgements at societal outcasts with: Tu kaun hai tera naam hai kya? Sita bhi yahan badnaam huyee [Who are you, what is your name? Even Sita was insulted here].

The film is unabashedly sentimental yet retains its poignancy. Pushpa has no legal or societal claim on either Anand or Nandu. Her predicament is captured in Anand's line, "Nandu se rishta? Agar koi apna na hokar bhi apna lage toh usse kya kehte hain?" [What is the relationship with Nandu? If someone is bound to you in spite of not being related to you, what do you call that?]

he rich emotional detail makes Amar Prem gripping.

Rajesh Khanna confidently swaggers through his role, letting the inner turmoil peek through the surface calm. He makes the most of his wry grin, pained eyes and softly delivered acerbic lines to make his well-crafted character come alive. On hindsight, one can see his bag of mannerisms --- crinkling eyes, nodding head --- in full play. Somehow at that time, they made him the embodiment of charm.

Sharmila Tagore plays a largely mute courtesan but her kohl-lined, tear-rimmed eyes speak volumes. Refreshingly, she conveys her sorrow also by resorting to a sardonic smile that is typically Sharmila.

Famous Dialogue:
Anand Babu: "Saline water... Pushpa, I hate tears. Inhe ponch dalo [Wipe them]."

*In the Bengali original, the role essayed by Rajesh Khanna (in the Hindi version) was enacted by Bengal's heartthrob Uttam Kumar.

*This film repeated the superhit Aradhana combination of Rajesh-Sharmila-Shakti Samanta. In fact, Shakti Samanta wanted to pair Rajesh-Sharmila in the Aradhana successor Kati Patang too, but due to Sharmila's pregnancy opted for Asha Parekh.

*The Anand Bakshi-R D Burman combination proved akin to chingaris being stoked into a blazing bonfire. Amar Prem serves as a beacon for one of the high points of seventies' music.

*Incidentally, R D Burman surrendered to image straitjacketing and sidestepped his favourite singer Asha Bhosle to give Lata Mangeshkar two still-remembered serious songs to sing.

Famous songs from Amar Prem
Doli mein bithai ke S D Burman
Raina beeti jaye Lata Mangeshkar
Chingari koi bhadke Kishore Kumar
Kuchh toh log kahenge Kishore Kumar
Yeh kya hua Kishore Kumar
Bada natkhat hai yeh Lata Mangeshkar

By Dinesh Raheja

Namak Haram A clash of the titans

Producer:-Rajaram,Satish Wagle,Jayendra Pandya
Director:-Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Music Director:-R D Burman
Stars:-Rajesh Khanna,Amitabh Bachchan,Rekha, Simi
Release Date:-23 November 1973

In 1964, Paramount produced a memorable Hollywood historical Becket, pitting two screen giants Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole against each other. The two thespians played best friends turned bitter foes.

Nine years later, Hrishikesh Mukherjee attempted a more contemporary interpretation with Namak Haram, starring two of Hindi cinema's most famous names --- seventies superstar Rajesh Khanna and the actor destiny had singled out to be his successor, Amitabh Bachchan.

Since Namak Haram was released late 1973 after Amitabh had already achieved stardom courtesy Zanjeer and Abhimaan, it was a momentous teaming up.

Namak Haram may talk a lot about the clash of opposing economic ideologies, but it works essentially because of the ever morphing human relationship between its two pivots.

he film begins with the promise of a prolonged flashback: Vicky (Amitabh), sporting a dash of grey in his hair, has been just released from jail. He is received by a sympatico Nisha (Simi) who, we learn as the spools unravel, was born with a golden spoon but propagates socialism.

On reaching home, Vicky meditates over Somu's (Rajesh Khanna) garlanded photograph. It does not leave you with much guess work about his character's culmination, but it is the perfect cue for a flashback.

Somu, a middle-class youth, and millionaire Vicky belong to two different strata of society. They are held together by their friendship. They wear identical shirts, share a whiskey bottle, lust after the same courtesan, and even do a stint of work for the same firm.

Unfortunately, the short-tempered Vicky gets embroiled in a spat with his moneybag father's (Om Shivpuri's) employee Bipinlal (A K Hangal). Bipinlal, a union leader, announces a strike. At his dad's insistence, a seething Vicky reluctantly apologises to Bipinlal.

A disturbed Somu hatches a plot to avenge Vicky's humiliation. He poses as a labourer called Chander, lives in the workers' basti, and starts working in Vicky's factory, to displace Bipinlal as the leader.

Hereafter, the story takes what one could possibly call a commercial break. Somu gets sentimental about a song penned by the cynical basti poet Alam (Raza Murad), and has a romance with a buxom basti girl Shyama (Rekha).

Somu then wins the workers' confidence after Vicky concedes to Somu's demands for a bonus. Bipinlal loses the union election to Somu. An elated Vicky wants to celebrate the momentous occasion with a glass of Chivas Regal. But Somu is too busy contemplating the morality of gulping down a mazdoor's day's earnings in one swig.

Somu's sympathies are now genuinely with the workers. Vicky, subconsciously influenced by his father's views that the middle class is ambitious and unreliable, begins to see Somu as a namak haram.

Beneath Vicky's acidic attack lies his pique at his friend seeming to have chosen the bastiwalas over him, and the director effectively makes this implicit.

Vicky's father, the master puppeteer, now delivers two blows. He blows Somu's cover and later gets him mowed down by a truck. Revolted by his father's ruthlessness, Vicky claims he masterminded the killing and hands himself to the police.

It is his way of making his father pay.

Namak Haram's dialogue makes abundant references to the class distinctions, the greedy capitalist, the role of politicians in encouraging discord and appeals for a more orderly world and a more even distribution of wealth, albeit without offering any concrete solutions.

It may ostensibly be a story about the class war but it is no dry economic treatise. The film is juiced up by its exploration of the mercurial yet binding relationship between the two friends.

Somu's pain at his divided loyalties and the conflict of interests are well brought out by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. So is the blend of love and hate that defines Vicky's relationship with his father. After destroying his father's dreams, Vicky says with all sincerity: "Dad, aap apna khayal rakhiyega."

Mukherjee does take his time to get the story off the ground. The development of the friendship and the boisterous scenes could have been more interestingly portrayed. Also, the shifts from scene to scene is puzzlingly old fashioned. The women sadly remain on the fringes.

Rajesh Khanna plays the conventional hero with charm and a sense for the grand gesture.

But Amitabh has a definite edge over him in this closely fought clash of the titans.

The film offers an early glimpse of Amitabh's intensity and his ability to play a role with uncanny authority. Watch him thunder at Om Shivpuri when he first gets to know of his attack on Rajesh: "Jo kuch bhi hua, woh mere aure uske beech mein hai, koi teesra beech main aaya toh [Whatever happened, that is between him and me. If a third comes between us]..."

If I were to single out one Amitabh scene, it would be his expression of impotent anger as he relives Rajesh's humiliation at the hands of the union leader. There are tears when he turns around and rarely have tears seemed more real on the Hindi screen.

Famous Dialogue:

Vicky: "Hai kisi maa ke laal mein himmat jo mere saamne aaye?"
(A lone Vicky's challenge to the dozens of workers who have beaten Somu to pulp)

Alam: "Jeene ki arzoo mein mare jaa rahe hai log, marne ki arzoo mein jeeye jaa raha hoon main."


* Amitabh won Filmfare's Best Supporting Actor Award for Namak Haram. Coincidentally, two years before, Amitabh had won Filmfare's Best Supporting Actor Award for Anand, a film also directed by Mukherjee and costarring Khanna.

* The same year, Amitabh Bachchan was also nominated in Filmfare's Best Actor category for Zanjeer but lost the award to debutante Rishi Kapoor for Bobby.

* Most of Amitabh's solo portions were shot before busy star Rajesh Khanna began shooting for the film.

* Rekha might not have had much to do in Namak Haram but her association with Hrishida proved profitable when he later cast her in Khoobsurat.

* Hrishikesh Mukherjee worked for the first time with the Anand Bakshi-R D Burman combination and was rewarded with three hit Kishore Kumar songs. Though Gulzar didn't get a chance to pen the lyrics, he wrote some easily accessible and scathing dialogues.

* It was the rare occasion when Asha's sister Usha Mangeshkar got an opportunity to duet with Asha.

Famous songs from Namak Haram
Song/ Singers
Sooni re sejariya saajan Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar
Diye jalte hain Kishore Kumar
Nadiya se dariya Kishore Kumar
Main shayar badnaam Kishore Kumar
Woh jhoota hai Kishore Kumar

By Dinesh Raheja

My friend RD Burman

Mumbai: Rajesh Khanna talks about Panchamda on his 15th death anniversary

Former superstar Rajesh Khanna, who used to be a close friend of the late versatile genius composer-singer Rahul Dev Burman, went into a nostalgic flashback for Sunday MiD DAY on the occasion of Burman's death anniversary today.

Refusing to lament on the loss, Khanna reacts with an optimistic 'take'. "Who says R D Burman is no more?

According to me, a musical genius like Panchamda can never die because his repertoire of evergreen, futuristic songs keeps him alive and rocking. Whenever I'm listening to his snappy or soulful numbers, I feel I'm 'with him'.

When I heard the recycled version of the hit 'Bachna Ae Haseenon' by Vishal & Shekhar, originally composed by Rahul, I was ecstatic that today's gen-next could instantly connect with an RD song composed over three decades ago! Even the musical title Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na starring Imran Khan, was the mukhda of a popular RD chartbuster way back in 1973. Why even Shah Rukh Khan's Main Hoon Naa had frequent background tunes of vintage RDB scores. Which is why I constantly feel his 'presence' through his timeless music," elaborates Kaka.

Not surprisingly, Khanna admits that Panchamda was 'instrumental' in his take-off to stardom. "With all due respect to his music maestro father Sachin Dev Burman, the legendary number Mere Sapnon Ki Rani in Aradhana was actually composed by his talented son. Because I witnessed the song being 'born' during the sittings and even at the recording. Since Panchamda himself loved to play the harmonica, he has incorporated peppy portions of signature harmonica melodies in the Sapnon Ki Rani song, besides the foot-tapping train-in-motion rhythm something which gave him a creative high," reveals the seasoned actor.

Wasn't it true that Burman Junior composed most of his chartbusting tunes at unearthly hours and in unconventional situations? "That's right. At times he would even 'dream' of a melody and jot down the notations when he woke up. Just about any bizarre sound would inspire him. From a discordant car honking to an ear-splitting aircraft drone could inspire him. Once, Pancham and I were flying together to Delhi for the premiere of Baharon Ke Sapne. When the plane took off and started cruising, he started humming a catchy tune. The moment I heard it, I cajoled him to use it for one of my playback songs.

"Months later, we were at the sitting of Kati Patang and we just could not get the right tune for a particular song which had a waltz metre. That's when, fortunately, I could recall the same tune that RD had sung at 32,000 feet. This melody, which was instantly approved by director Shaktida Samanta, was none other than 'Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai'.

"Yet another instance, we were at a Shivji mandir-darshan somewhere in Kashmir. After listening to the clanging of temple bells during the aarti, we came out and RD instantly hummed a devotional hook line with a folksy flavour. This time, he assured me that he would gift the melody to me. That vibrant duet-song was much later recorded as 'Jai Jai Shiv Shankar' from the movie Aap Ki Kasam. Many a time, he would use the whistle-effect or la-la-la in some of his songs as he felt that the common man could whistle his melodies, even without memorising the lyrics," recalls Khanna.

The former superstar, who remained fast friends with Panchamda, disagrees with the popular notion that RD was a recluse. "Basically, Rahul was a shy, sensitive, reserved person who never grabbed publicity. As a loveable, emotional human being, he was quite jolly and fun-loving. The milestone song 'Ek Chatur Naar' (Padosan), which is a classical-pop freak-fusion, bears testimony to his humorous flip side.

"Besides being a romantic at heart, he romanticised life. Which is how he could create mushy serenading songs like 'Jaane-Jaan' (Jawani Diwani), 'Chura Liya Hai Tumne' (Yaadon Ki Baarat) and 'Hum Dono Do Premi' (Ajnabee)," counters Kaka, who deeply regrets that his close buddy had to go through a luckless, depressing phase post 1991, when the showbiz industry 'disowned' him as his music was "no longer saleable".

"Destiny snatched him away just when he was ready to start his second innings with his brilliant score in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 1942-A Love Story. Although we have fabulous singer-composers today, none, I feel, can match up to RDB's extraordinary calibre," he sighs.

Finally, 15 years after his untimely demise in 1994, a 'chowk' at Santacruz West, close to Panchamda's residence, is scheduled to be named after him and to be unveiled by Asha Bhonsle today. "We need many more such dedicated memorial junctions and functions, music academies and loyal fan clubs to highlight the 'punch' of Panchamda's repertoire for all times to come," signs off Khanna.

Rajesh Khanna's Top 10 favourites of RD Burman
>>Oh Mere Dil Ke Chain (Mere Jeevan Saathi)
>>Chingari Koi Bhadke (Amar Prem)
>>Zindagi Ke Safar Mein (Aap Ki Kasam)
>>Duniya Mein (Apna Desh)
>>Humein Tumse Pyar Kitna (Kudrat)
>>Ek Chatur Naar (Padosan)
>>Dum Maro Dum (Hare Rama Hare Krishna)
>>Hum Bewafaa Hargiz Na The (Shalimar)
>>Jaane-e-Jaan (Jawani Diwani)
>>Baahon Mein Chali Aa (Anamika)

By: Chaitanya Padukone in Sunday Mid-day 4-1-2009

Rajesh Khannna 1979


My first impression of him is that he’s a cold, proud man. My second, that his pride is a defence mechanism held between him and the rest of the world because he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s lonely... damn, damn, damn lonely. Doomed to be forever alone, in spite of the handful of people who have worked out the survival tricks of dealing with this sullen superstar, and are constantly around him.
There is his right-hand man Prashant: An engaging conversationalist, and diplomat who speaks seven languages from English to Bhojpuri and starts all his phone conversations with namaste and ends with ‘best of luck’. When his master is shooting, he tells you not to be punctual, because his master isn’t. When Rajesh Khanna is not shooting, Prashant cooks up mysterious meetings to keep callers away.
Then there is Munna, Kaka’s man-in-waiting, who smiles like Sanjeev Kumar but is better dressed. He wears only Wrangler shirts. And there’s Raja Ram, the make-up man who’s got a very easy job to do ever since Rajesh stopped breaking out in pimples. Raja Ram wears a belt with ‘R’ on it, and except for this sign of devotion, he speaks little.
Rajesh speaks little too. His poet-like face hides a steely person encased in freezing pride and loneliness. He doesn’t need people. I can’t understand how he consented to this diary. It took months of coaxing, months of planning and innumerable phone calls.

Friday, July 14: We are on the sets of Aanchal. It’s like being in a village, with courtyards, trees, stable, haystacks. Even Amol Palekar is in a dhoti, and Raakhee in knee-high sari. Rajesh, who plays Amol’s brother is in a kurta and holds a lathi. In the film, Raakhee plays Amol’s beautiful second wife, and Rajesh worships her like a mother. In this particular scene, Rajesh is supposed to come running and whisk her off to the fields.
There’s a timing problem between the two. Rajesh’s entry should be marked with Raakhee ending her dialogue. An assistant gives the cue from behind a door, but it still takes several retakes before the shot is okayed. Between shots, Rajesh is like an iceberg. He sits miles away from everybody. He makes no attempt to be friendly or talk.
I’m frankly confused. This is not the Rajesh who’s been described to me. This one neither throws tantrums nor humiliates his co-stars. But he’s sulky, peevish, a little starry. And he expects a lot of tolerance from others, when he creeps into his shell. Where’s the warm, tender, poetic lover of the silver screen? This one’s something that escaped from an ice factory!
Saturday July 15: Same film, same studio, same set. This shot is with Rajesh and Rekha. Good vibes here in real life, but all they do in the film, is squabble. In this scene, Rajesh is to dump a pot of milk on Rekha’s head. At the last minute, she gets fussy.‘Empty it below my neck,’ she demands.‘Not on my hair!’ I don’t mind if my clothes smell of milk, but not my hair.’ Rajesh flops into a chair.‘Fantastic!’ he says sarcastically.‘Then what’s the point?’‘Correct!’ agrees Rekha.‘No point. So, let’s do it tomorrow instead. I can’t go for my next shift smelling of milk. If we do the scene, I’ll have to go to the beauty parlour, shampoo and dry my hair, redo my make-up, redo my eyes — I’ll be three hours late for my next shift!’‘Forget the make-up,’ says Rajesh.‘I’m not Raakhee,’ says Rekha.‘I don’t have natural beauty.’
Rajesh is enjoying himself now.‘I understand. That’s Prakash Mehra’s shooting, and the hero is Amitabh, so you must be on time. I understand.’ Finally, Rekha has her way and everyone packs up. Rajesh is now sitting under a tree with the producer, director and a few visitors. He’s cool and blasep! Who would have thought that the ex-superstar would have put up with his leading lady’s tantrums! He isn’t ashamed of failure, in fact, even talks about it.‘I had my good days, I had my bad days — and I will have my good days again. I don’t envy the man on top now, because I’ve been there myself. I know how he feels — every hit, every joy, every applause. I’ve tasted it all — and it’s Wow!’
What a man! No one’s risen like he did, and no one’s fallen like he did.

Sunday July 16: On Sunday, Rajesh Khanna (Kaka) does not shoot.‘It’s the only day I can be with my children. I take chutti.’ So he takes it easy. Wakes up anytime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. His eyes open, he reaches for a cigarette. The day begins leisurely.‘Everyone complains I’m late for work. How can they be sure that when I’m lying in bed making smoke rings, I’m not working? My mind is busy. I’m thinking.’ When he’s through with smoking and thinking, he plays.‘I love playing with my children, especially Twinkle. I have been excellent rapport with her: May be because she’s so much my opposite. Chinky’s still too reserved and young. The second child is supposed to be the complexed one, anyway. You know, when I was a bachelor, the sound of my neighbour’s kids shouting would make me boil with rage. But when your own child makes a racket, it’s music. Better than R.D. Burman and Kishore Kumar!’
After play is lunchtime. Lunch at ‘Aashirwad’ is always more than a family affair, with people dropping in at all times. Wife Dimple occasionally cooks his favourite dishes.‘She’s a good cook,’ he says,‘And it’s a nice change. But I wouldn’t like her to be in the kitchen all the time, when I can afford such a large staff!’ Evening is strictly family time. The Drive-in theatre is a Khanna favourite.‘It’s ideal for couples with young children!’ says Rajesh.‘Very relaxing. Dimple may yawn half a dozen times, I may doze off, the kids may be more interested in the wafers and ice-cream, but it’s still a nice outing.’
Monday July 17: He’s dubbing for Janata Hawaldar. Outside, it’s raining cats and dogs. Rajesh is in a foul mood, and has left strict orders that he’s not to be disturbed,‘even if there’s an earthquake.’ No calls, no visitors, no snacks, no tea!’ I have no choice but to wait until the weather clears and the mood mellows. Suddenly there’s a commotion from within. Rajesh’s voice is heard loud and clear all the way to the reception desk.‘I told you not to disturb me! Who the hell gave you permission to enter the room?’ There’s pin drop silence! The unit boy who had sneaked into the room to announce a guest, emerges chalk faced. The other unit boys gather around and console him.‘Never mind,’ whispers one.‘He’s in a bad mood. You should have kept away.’‘Even if he fired you, so what?’ says another.‘He is your saab, you have to take it!’ The discussion comes to a halt when the canteen boy arrives with omelettes and tea. It’s for Kakaji. He had ordered snacks at 6 p.m. But who’ll dare re-enter the lion’s den? No one’s ready to chance it.
At 6.35 p.m. Rajesh comes out. The tea and omelettes are cold now, and the unit boys are all trying to look like part of the furniture. Kaka spots the fellow he has just blasted, and beckons him.‘Tell the canteen to send hot tea, omelette and toast.’ The fellow turns to got when Rajesh stops him.‘Wasn’t too hard on you, was I?’ he says.‘When I say don’t disturb me, I mean don’t disturb me. Now run along and get tea for me. I’ve got a headache.’ The unit boy scurries off blushing with pleasure.
So he’s got a volcanic temper. But he’s generous too. Remember, he left a palatial bungalow as a parting gift to his ex-girlfriend? He gave a brand new Mercedes to Simple, his sister-in-law, when Anurodh was released. He said,‘No comments’— for seven years consistently about his Anju chapter, despite a hundred allegations and lies. He’s got a big heart all right.


Being Rajesh Khanna means two things: You’ve to be a natty dresser. And you’ve to be a real miser about your masala box. Rajesh is a fussy dresser. Wears only silk kurtas, and has suits in every imaginable colour. The masala box, is a large silver affair with half a dozen compartments, each containing a different type of masala and supari. There’s a small spoon for dipping into these compartments and an extra red-and-black potli — the fisherwoman type with strings, for holding elaichis. Well, he’s either sentimental about it all or just plain miserly, because in the nine days I followed him about, he didn’t offer me supari even once?
Today, there are many visitors. The writer of Dushman Dost has come to fix shooting dates. Prem Chopra, Kaka’s good friend since Kati Patang, has come to say “hello”. Then there’s the writer of Aavishkar, whom Rajesh introduces as a man who’s matured from tender love stories to crime and violence.“What’s happened?” Rajesh demands plaintively,“Where has love and romance gone? Romance can be anything — an open window, flowers, poetry, rain, music. Today, there’s no romance. No one has time for anything but getting into bed and raping.”
He’s at an ebb. Probably his sinus is acting up. Probably something else. You can never say with Rajesh Khanna.
Saturday July 22: Today is a good diary day. Rajesh Khanna’s on top of the world, ready to come out of his shell and talk. I’m flabbergasted that Khanna doesn’t drink his water from a gold or silver glass.“I don’t believe in silver or gold,” he smiles.“I believe in black and white. White is lovely but black is beautiful. I like dark women, they’re sexy. I’m not particular that a woman should be gori chitti or even curvaceous. Appeal comes from mental rapport. I have to click mentally first.”
He adjusts a pillow behind his head, getting into the spirit of the conversation.“My first mate was a big tease. We’d meet behind hedges to discuss lessons. She was smarter and used to help me with my studies. Mind you, I never borrowed her notes. No copying for me. Not even in those days. When I went to meet her father to ask for her hand, he asked me if I’d be taking over my family business. When he found out that I wanted to be an actor, he showed me the door. My second relationship was in college. I never attended classes. The day I did, my professor applauded. I found the staircase and the canteen more worthwhile. Pretty girls in churidars sat with friends, on the steps. One of them was a battleaxe, and we would be at each other’s throats all the time. The whole college naturally assumed we were in love! One day, I found her sitting all alone in the canteen. I took a chair. Fifteen minutes passed, she didn’t talk. I asked her if she was well?“I’m getting engaged tomorrow,” she snapped. I asked her one question before she left.“Be honest. Were you ever in love with me?”‘Yes’, she cried and fled. I never saw her again.

“Everyone knows the next chapter (Anju Mahendru). But have I ever commented on it?” There were some beautiful moments in that relationship. Too bad it went sour. And then my wife, Dimpi. Dimpi and I fell in love after marriage. Nothing anyone says can break our ties. She’s matured with motherhood. She’s developed constructive habits like reading. She’s read all the best-sellers.
There’s an interruption. Rajesh is summoned downstairs for the shot. It’s a scene for Dushman Dost and Rajesh and Shatru are in C.I.D. uniforms. Rajesh gets up to change.“With the young lady’s permission, of course,” he says. I excuse myself, marvelling at his sudden radiant charm. I told you, today he’s in a good mood.
Monday July 24: He’s shooting at the airport for Prem Bandhan. The entire cast is present — Moushumi Chatterji, Vikram, Lalita Pawar, Rippy Singh and A.K. Hangal. It’s the usual homecoming scene. Tears, laughter, hugs and the inevitable garland! Everyone seems to be happy. Except me. It’s just not my day. I’ve had to fight my way through the massive crowd outside. When I finally land inside the building, the crowd is larger. Men, women and children are falling over themselves to get a close look at the stars. The light boys are going crazy trying to keep the mob under control and away from the lights. Suddenly the headlight boy yells at a little kid who’s standing on the wires.“Do you know you can die of an electric shock in two seconds?”
Thankfully, Kaka’s man, Munna, spots me and manages to drag me out of the crowd. I’m on my way to Kaka when Moushumi shrieks,“Hiiiii!” She makes me sit beside her and asks,“How do you like my earrings?” After that, there’s no stoping her. She tells me about her husband, her house, her daughter, her trip abroad. From the corner of my eye, I notice that Kaka’s watching us coldly. Moushumi finally lets me go and I’m walking towards Kaka, when Vikram and Hangal stop me.‘In South India,’ says Vikram,‘we call our tea boys ‘Kaka’. But in Punjab, Kaka is used as a term of affection!“Ha, ha, ha!”
I can’t get close to Rajesh now. There are some kids from Delhi who want his autograph; a middle-aged couple who request him to pose for a photograph and done and pack-up announced, the police have to be called in to clear the way for the stars.
Tuesday July 25: Good things never last. Today, my last day for this diary is a real tough one, with silence, restraint and formalities. He’s switched off and is aloof again. At the photo sessions, he loosens up a bit and flashes a whole range of adorable expressions — a consummate actor. But what a strange man! After nine days, I feel as though I’ve been circling a closed shell with no doors or windows. Expecting to get a peek inside by some miracle. But that happened oh-so-few-times. He’s a closed book to most people. There are flashes of a warmer human being trapped in his star image. Today, he’s unapproachale, moody, aloof, a world unto himself.
My last impression of him is the same as my first. He’s lonely. Damn, damn, damn, lonely.
“The best judge of an interview is always your most intimate ones. They know everything about you — your thoughts and feelings — and if what you say in print, can retain their interests, it means you have not stagnated. I remember the reactions I received for this diary. It had the ability to surprise me and those around me. Interviews are quite similar to screen performances. One identifies only with the recent ones.”
(Rajesh Khanna)

Rajesh Khanna's Track Record 1969-74

All Time Blockbuster

1.Do Raaste(1970)
2.Haathi Mere Sathi(1971)

Super Hit
2.The Train(1970)
3.Sacha Jhoota(1970)
6.Kati Patang(1971)
7.Aan Milo Sajna(1971)
10.Amar Prem(1972)
11.Apna Desh(1972)
13.Prem Nagar(1974)

6.Namak Haram(1973)
7.Aap Ki Kasam(1974)

Semi Hit
2.Mehboob Ki Mehni(1971)
3.Joru Ka Ghulam(1972)
4.Mere Jeevan Sathi(1972)

1.Raja Rani(1973)

1.Choti Bahu(1971)
2.Dil Daulat Aur Duniya(1972)

Source Times Of India

When the audience cried with Anand

Producers:-Rupam Chitra
Director:-Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Music Director:-Salil Chowdhary
Stars:-Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan
Release Date:-1 January 1971

Frank Capra's immortal observation: tragedy is not when the actor cries; tragedy is when the audience cries, perfectly fits Anand. It is a film that keeps its protagonists dry-eyed but makes the stoniest blink with emotion.
In 1971, the year of Anand, another film about a bravely dying protagonist Love Story (Ryan O'Neal, Ali McGraw), stormed the world. Perhaps it was just cosmically ordained that at that time the world would be in the mood for a
collective, cathartic cry.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anand, of course, famously laced the tears with laughter. Anand is memorable not only for affording us the chance to see two superstars Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan strike sparks off each other, but also because it presented, in the form of Anand (played by Khanna), an unforgettable character who can laugh in the face of death. Who, in his dying, imparts rare insights into the art of living.
Sure, as a character, Anand feels somewhat overidealised, but who can resist him? The first time we see Anand, he storms into Dr Bhasker Banerjee's (Amitabh Bachchan) life with the energy of a rap star on speed. Chatterbox Anand is aware he is suffering from a terminal disease lymphosarcoma ("Aadmi Vivid Bharati par announce kar sakta hai," he jokes about the long-winded name), that has left him only a few months to live, but he is still determined to eschew tears and spread love and good cheer for the rest of his life.
This is saved from being melodramatic or corny by the conviction with which Anand abides by his personal philosophy of life -- Zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin (life should be grand rather than long).
Anand with his ceaseless banter lightens up the doc. The good doctor is a committed professional who leads a comfortable bourgeois Babu existence (which includes lounging in dhotis when at home), but is troubled by the poverty he has to encounter while treating his patients. Anand is the guest-cum-patient of their common friend Dr Prakash (Ramesh Deo), but decides to move in with Banerjee, whom he fondly calls Babu Moshai.
The extrovert-introvert push and pull results in Banerjee unfastening his pent-up emotions and finding true friendship as well the love of his life Renu (Sumita Sanyal).
Besides Babu Moshai, the endearing Anand's sunny temperament touches the lives of Dr Prakash, his wife (Seema, who starts considering him her brother), the hospital matron (Lalita Pawar, who treats him like a son) and Renu. In fact, Anand's affection is new age and universal which leads him to repeatedly strike up friendships with strangers on the road.

All these interactions are played out under the looming shadow of death. When his sister asks for blessings, a hapless Anand says, "Tujhe kya ashirwad doon, bahen? Yeh bhi toh nahin keh sakta meri umar tujhe lag jaaye [How do I bless you? I can't even pledge that my life span should be added to yours]."
Mukherjee balances Anand's bursts of positivity by affording us glimpses into his inner anguish. But Banerjee decides that Anand's live-for-the-moment determination is his strength and does not probe deep.
The film moves towards Anand's death, and the character's last scene is one of the most lump-in-the-throat
evoking scenes ever filmed in Hindi cinema. Anand has already tape-recorded some theatrical lines from one of his many jocular sojourns after Banerjee had recorded a poem. On Anand's deathbed, Banerjee runs to get some desperate last-minute remedy. Anand asks for the spool to be played and passes away to the sound of his friend's voice.
When a distraught Banerjee returns, he is greeted by his friend's death but his voice eerily floats through the tape recorder: "Zindagi aur maut uparwale ke haath mein hai, Jahanpanah. Hum sab rangmanch ki kathputliyan hain jinki dor uparwale ki ungliyon se bandhi hui hai. Kab kaun uthega koi nahin bata sakta. Ha ha ha." (We are all puppets in the hands of the supreme being who holds the strings of our lives. We will never know which string he will pull next).
These rather stagy, portentous lines leave a tremendous impact because they are interwoven into the screenplay with striking intelligence.
Watching Anand leaves you nostalgic for Hrishikesh Mukherjee's typically literate, realm of moviemaking. Characters recite poetry and live in hermetically-sealed genially civilized worlds.
Mukherji is ably aided by Gulzar who writes some deathless dialogue. The songs are picturised with a pleasantly unhurried rhythm. The crown jewel is indubitably Zindagi kaisi hai paheli shot next to a seemingly horizonless sea and a limitless sky into which a bunch of balloons disappear in tandem with the lines: Ek din sapno ka rahi chala jaaye sapno ke aage kahan.
Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye
Of course, there are minor quibbles -- Anand seems surrounded by an inexhaustible supply of exceedingly nice people. There is no major attention paid to creating carefully calibrated images. I guess Mukherjee's strength is in his simplicity and directness.
The Bachchan versus Khanna debate, of course, is a minefield whenever their two films together are discussed. While Bachchan was better in Namak Haram and though he is heartwarmingly effective here, it is Rajesh Khanna who has the definite edge in Anand.

*Rajesh Khanna was at the giddy height of his superstardom and Anand added tremendous respect as an actor to his profile. He won Filmfare's Best Actor Award for the film.
*Amitabh won Best Supporting Actor Award but lost Mukherjee's next, Guddi because he had become a known face and the director wanted an unknown actor opposite newcomer Jaya Bhaduri.
*Bengali actress Sumita Sanyal had done Mukherji's Aashirwad before and went on to play the bhabhi in Guddi.
*Mukherjee intermittently but rewardingly continued mentor Bimal Roy's relationship with Salil Chowdhury.
*Salil's favourite Mukesh made an unusual choice for Rajesh Khanna (another rare Khanna song for Mukesh was Kati Patang's Jis gali mein).
*The often undervalued lyricist Yogesh deserves credit for penning the metaphorical beauty, Kahin door and the

Famous songs from Anand

Song/ Singers

Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye/ Mukesh
Maine tere liye hi/Mukesh
Zindagi kaisi hai paheli/Manna Dey
Na jiya laage na/Lata Mangeshkar

By Dinesh Raheja

Echoes Of An Era

[As told to Bhawna Somaya] 
Chapter 1 : Princely Surroundings.

I was born to my parents after eighteen years of marriage.
After three daughters, they were very keen on a son and my
mother, I am told, organised a special havan for this. No
wonder then that I was an exceptionally pampered child. Those
days they believed that the later they got the child's mundan
done, the better it was for his health. So, my mother who was
extremely superstitious, to ward off the evil eye, avoided
doing my mundan until I was two years old. Now, according to
custom, the child who hasn't got his mundan done cannot be
dressed in stitched clothes. As a result, I was forever
clothed in silk fabrics, much to my mother's displeasure. She
felt very deprived that her only son should be dressed
incompletely. "Wait till his mundan is done," she would always
say, "and I'll show the world what a wardrobe I can organise
for my son." When the time came, she personally sat and
stitched my clothes - little bandis with embroidery and kurtas
with zari kaam. My fascination for clothes started that early.
Even as an infant, anything ordinary wasn't good enough for
me. And how could it be, considering I was reared in princely
surroundings. My parents always made me feel very important.

My naming ceremony was performed in Dhapalpur, a small village
of Karachi inside our kuldevta's temple. Even today, when I
pray, I am somehow mentally communicating to the God inside
that temple. My parents named me 'Jeetendra', but nobody ever
called me by that name. In the house, I was always referred to
as 'Kaka'.'Kaka', up North is a very common pet name for the
youngest child in the family.

The only time my mother yelled at me was when I refused to
drink my milk. I hated drinking milk and looked for ways to
avoid the tall glass coming my way. Everyday, my line of
excuse changed. One day I felt nausea. One day giddy. One day
it was a stomach ache and on another, a headache. Each time,
however, my mother was one up on me. "You think you can fool
Leelavati, do you?" she would say. Holding me tight by the
arm, she'd clasp my nose and force it all down my throat. I
hated the moment.I hated both, the smell and the taste of it.
But there was no escape. The doctor had convinced my mother
that the only way to improve my weight was by giving me lots
of milk. So paranoid was she about my drinking milk that she
had even consulted pundits. One pundit suggested to her that
if she served as cup of milk to a black dog everyday, chances
were that her child would start liking it himself. So
everyday, a servant was sent hunting for a black dog. It
sounds crazy, I know, but that's how obsessed she was.
From the very beginning, our family was deep into rituals and
traditions. I guess that is why I am so religious. My parents
often kept chandi paath at home. In theyear I was to be born,
they organised a paath that ran through all of twelve months
and my busy father, who was a workaholic began leaving his
office early, so that he could personally shop for my
belongings. Even the pacifier I used was obtained from London.

As I grew older, I got used to getting everything I wanted.
Once, I had gone to Delhi for my summer holidays where I
learnt cycling. When I returned, I asked my mother to buy me a
bicycle. She refused. "It is dangerous on the roads," she
explained. I began to howl as if the world had come to an end.
To pacify me, she spoke to my father. My father was furious
that my mother could even entertain the thought. "Cycle, for a
child in a city like Bombay!" he thundered. That should have
been the end of the chapter, but stubborn that I was, I
persisted. Exasperated, my parents relented. But on two
conditions. One, I would ride my cycle only inside the garden
and not on the streets. Two, I would not ride the cycle after
it was dark.

Initially, I kept to my promise but gradually as months passed
by, I became more and more adventurous. One day, I got so
carried away, that I went for a long ride with a neighbourhood
friend. When I didn't return until dark, my parents got
worried and sent servants to search for me. When I got home,
it was past 8 p.m. I can never forget that evening. Father was
by the window, angry. Mother was sitting in a corner weeping.
As soon as she saw me, she broke down and ran forward to
embrace me. But father didn't let her. He first fired my
mother and later me. Prior to this, my father had never fired
me. Never raised his voice, but today he raised his hand too.
I was given a beating I would never forget. I felt scared,
tired, hungry and in my nervousness I peed. My mother was
instantly protective. "Can't you see the boy is frightened?"
She told my father. "He better be," my father yelled, angry
with her for intervening.

Another incident to shake me up emotionally was when I was
about ten years old and had gone to my father's office. Home
and office were close by and I was used to dropping in at the
office to see father. That day, my father was in a meeting and
asked his peon to make me sit in his cabin. It was common for
me to lounge around my father's cabin reading my comic books.
That day too, I was carrying my comics with me. I plonked
myself on father's chair. Just then, my uncle (mama) K. K.
Talwar, who assisted my father in his work, entered. "Arre,
Kaka, how come you are sitting on this chair?" he sounded
alarmed. I looked at my uncle in surprise. "You have to first
deserve it, only then can you sit on another man's chair!".
Uncle seemed angry with me and his words were scathing. I felt
hurt, but more than that I felt confused. What did uncle mean
when he said 'deserve', I wondered. I wouldn't dare ask father
for an explanation, fro I didn't have the courage. But I asked
mother. "What is 'deserving' and why is it that a son cannot
sit on his father's chair?"

On that day, mother told me something that I have never
forgotten. And in her explanation, came a message of life. My
father, it seems, was only ten years old when he lost both his
parents. At this tender age, he was shifted to his aunt's
home. One day, over some misunderstanding, he left his aunt's
house never to return to it again. Accompanied by my mother,
he came to Bombay, all set to start a new life.

Those were desperate days. They had no money, no home, no
friends. Father rented a small room in Thakurdwar, even though
he had no money at that time. Somehow, he managed to convince
the landlord that he would work hard and pay him his rent.
Somehow, the landlord trusted him. And my father didn't let
him down. Within a month, father found a job as a supervisor
that paid him enough to get him and his wife one meal a day.
For this, he had to leave early in the morning and return very
late at night.

Mother came from an affluent family and was not used to
hardships. Reared in comforts and luxuries, she had never
known the meaning of struggle. But not once, during his
struggle, did she complain or lose hope. On the contrary,
mother happily supported him, boosted his morale when times
became really bad. Because father could not come home for his
afternoon meal, she skipped her lunch too. Both ate just once
a day. That too late at night. Her sacrifice was natural. She
wasn't even conscious of it. Her prayers were a conscious
effort though. "If you don't forget God, He does not forget
you." Her prayers didn't go unanswered. After years of
struggle and toil, prosperity came my father's way. And the
triumph was cherished deeply because they had both worked very
hard for it. Beginning as a supervisor and graduating to be a
Railway Contractor, my father was now ready to launch his
independent venture. One by one, he spread his companies
outside Bombay. First Madras, then Delhi and finally Calcutta.
"The 'deserving' your uncle mentioned to you is about your
father's this struggle. He has poured his blood and brains for
everything he possesses today. For everything we enjoy today.
The big empire rules, is built on the foundation of hard work.
As his family, we can enjoy the luxuries, but we have no
claims on his glory. His success, his position, is his own,
and it is his greatness that he does not make us conscious of

The simplicity and clarity with which mother explained this,
made a deep impression on my psyche. After this incident, I
never sat on anyone's chair again. Not even those inferior to
me, for how could I be sure that I deserved to?

I got attracted to theatre while I was still in school. All
the boys from the neighborhood would collect on our building
terrace and enact plays. We drew up curtains with sarees
stolen from our mothers' cupboard and created a stage out of
discarded benches gifted by the shopkeepers. My favourite
role, those days, was of a gypsy. I longed to get into
colourful costumes, longed to paint my face and mouth long
dialogues. But more than anything, I loved watching plays. I
never missed an opportunity of visiting the theatre. Slowly,
however, as I grew older, films began to replace my passion
for theatre.

The first film I ever saw, must have been from my mother's
lap, but the first one, I remember was A. R. Kardar's Dastaan
starring Raj Kapoor. Veena played a vamp in this film and God,
what a vamp! She was so effective that years later, when I had
to shoot with her for Do Raaste, I was petrified of her. I
could not wipe away her stern memories of my childhood. I had
a very evil image of her in my mind. But of course, she wasn't
like that. Over the years, I learnt of course, that an actor
isn't what he appears on the screen. His true personality,
very often, is a contrast of what he projects in his films.

Strangely those days, whenever I was asked what I would become
when I grew up, I always said, "I'd become a pilot." This,
even though it had been drilled into me since childhood that
when I grew up, I'd have to join my father's business. I was
only in high school, when my father opened an independent bank
account for me. I could not operate the account, being still a
minor, but all the same, the account made me feel very
powerful. Aid I liked the feeling of power!

Chapter 2 : Peer Pressures. 

By the time I was in college, my pocket money of Rs. 500 was
hiked to Rs. 1000 a month. A sum nobody else received in my
group. Also, while in school, I was driven on a scooter, now I
was given a car of my own. My mother was worried but had
learnt to mellow down. She just accepted that she had to
change. And she changed...

The relationship between my father and me was changing too. He
watched me enjoy myself with friends but didn't say anything.
One day, as I was getting ready to go out, he said, "going
out, are you?" I said, "ji." He said, "it's fine that you plan
your holidays so well and I hope that when the time comes, you
will plan your career as carefully too. You will have to, some
day, begin working, won't you?" Very subtly, yet very clearly,
my father had got his point across. It set me thinking. I was
not seriously attempting to become a pilot. And I was
definitely not keen on joining father's business because it
didn't interest me. What interested me was theatre, but how
did one join theatre?

My only link to the theatre those days was a distant cousin
attached to the INT Drama Company, where V. K. Sharma, whom we
called Sharmaji, was the director. I liked Sharmaji and would
often hang around the place during his rehearsal time just to
stare at the actors. Strange ideas came to my mind, watching
these actors. Maybe I fantasised being one, but didn't have
the courage to say so. But I haunted the place because I
secretly hoped and wanted a break. And one day, I got my
chance. One of the INT actors fell ill and didn't show up.
Sharmaji spotted me in the crowd and asked me if I'd
substitute the actor? I nodded. Within seconds, I had crossed
over the boundary and was part of the world, I had so far only
dreamt of. But of course, it wasn't all that easy. Despite my
best efforts, on the day of the show, I got nervous and goofed
up my lines. I played a durban in the play and had only one
dialogue which was "ji huzoor, saab ghar mein hain" instead, I
said, "ji saab, huzoor ghar mein hain." The director was
hopping mad with me. After the show, I ran away without
meeting him or anybody else.

Back home I felt miserable. I drank a lot that night and cried
a lot too. My friends, to whom I confided my story, consoled
me. They said it was too small a matter to lose heart over,
but I was inconsolable. I felt so ashamed of myself that not
only did I stop going for rehearsals but also would not look
father in the eye, just in case he got to know what I was
feeling. For by now, father knew of my flirtation with
theatre. Looking back, I feel the disaster was a blessing in
disguise. For it filled me with a challenge to prove myself
worthy again. It has been an old habit with me that whenever I
am rejected, I take it up as a challenge!

I consider myself lucky that I wasn't thrown out of the play.
It hurt my ego tremendously and I had to swallow my pride to
go back to the same people, the same play, defeated, but it
was necessary. And even though I was a mere extra in that
play, I felt proud when our play Mere Desh Ka Gaon went on to
become INT's most popular play.

Slowly, I was getting out of my nervousness, getting used to
being treated like a junior. And juniors never get to play
important roles. In short, nobody took me seriously. The more
patronising they got, the more committed I became towards my
work. My college friends got used to me disappearing between
lectures to attend theatre. Kader Khan, Sagar Sarhadi, V. K.
Sharma were all involved in theatre those days. Except, while
they were stalwarts, an authority on plays and performances, I
was a small lallu panju whom no one took notice of, and no one

Although they ignored me, I loved going there. I loved the
excitement of it all. Ideas, views, opinions clashed. Tea
glasses made rounds and cigarette packets were emptied faster
than they were lit. The room was always smoke-filled. By the
time the rehearsals got over, it was always midnight. We were
tired, hungry and often went for a meal to Bhuleswar. Those
days pau bhaji was only available at Khau gali in Bhuleswar.
And boy! What tasty pau bhaji they served there. Even today,
whenever I want to eat pau bhaji, I only go to Khau gali of

Our other favourite haunt and slightly sophisticated that too,
was Gaylord Restaurant. It is here that I first met B. S.
Thappar, who gave me my lead break on stage. It was
Thapparsaab who introduced me to Anju Mahendroo, my first
heroine. I was waiting outside Gaylords in my bell-bottom
trousers when a striking face, with an extremely long plait,
walked past me. After a while, when I entered the restaurant
for my appointment with B. S. Thappar, he introduced me to
Anju. "She is Anju Mahendroo, your heroine in this play."

Our rehearsals began the following day itself. Sometimes at
the Patkar Hall and sometimes at Bhulabhai Memorial Building.
Memorial Building had a glamour about it because Geeta Bali
had an office in the same building. One day, as I was racing
up the staircase, I bumped into her. She was so graceful. "Are
you an actor?" she asked spontaneously. I was too dumbfounded.
I nodded my head in a gesture which was neither a 'yes', nor a
'no'. "Do you want to become one?" she continued. I nodded
again. "We're looking for a new face to act in a Punjabi
film..." I was so thrilled with this conversation that I went
and told all my friends about Geetaji's compliment. They said,
"maybe it is true. Why don't we go and verify with a pundit?"
We went to one immediately. "You will have nothing to do with
glamour," the pundit said rudely. "The source that will bring
you money is iron. Tum lokhand ka vyapar karoge to faida

As if to prove the fortune-teller right, a few months later, I
read that Geeta Bali was signed for a Punjabi film called Ek
Chadar Maili Si and the new hero to get a break opposite her
was Dharmendra. I was heartbroken!! I still don't know why,
but I was invited for the launching party of this film. It was
at Geeta Bali's residence, Blue Heaven. I went, but felt
miserable. I felt out of my place too. I was sitting by
myself, in their little garden, when Geetaji joined me. "You
are feeling unhappy, aren't you?" I think Geetaji felt guilty
about giving me hopes.And the truth was, had she not told me
about the role that day, I wouldn't have nursed the idea of
entering films. But after a compliment from Geeta Bali, I felt
I was entitled to a good break-in films. Probably she
understood my conflict and tried her best to lessen my pain.
"Look up," she said to me gently. "The sky is filled with
stars, one day you will shine too. One day, fame will be yours
for the asking." I felt choked and even though I felt
hopeless, I felt consoled. What a pity that Geetaji had to die
so early. If she were alive, she would have been the first
person I'd have gone to meet after my success.

Success didn't happen to me overnight. Even thought I was
doing theatre, producers were not taking note of me. Sanjeev
Kumar, who was with IPTA had got a break and so had many
others. But my life was still directionless. My vagabond days,
by now, had begun to worry my father. The man, who had all
along, not uttered a word, called me to his room one day to
have a man to man chat. He said," to pursue a career that
forever rejects you, is foolishness. In life, one has to take
signals. Maybe films are not for you." In a very dignified
way, he had driven home his point. "I'll give you five years
to come to a decision. If after five years, I feel, you are
not making any headway you will have to join my business.
Fair?" "Fair," I replied. And I sincerely believed this. As a
father he could have put pressures on me. He didn't. He didn't
even make me feel guilty.

Strangely, not just my father, but my entire family took
rather positively to my theatre craze and later my struggle in
films. In fact, both my parents, always came to see me perform
on stage. I still remember the day I received the selection
letter from the Filmfare-United Producers Contest. Out of 1000
candidates, I was the chosen one. I was so happy that I went
screaming about the house. My father came out of his room and
I said, "looks like we will not have to wait for five years."
He smiled. As weeks passed by, I understood the meaning behind
my father's smile. Despite the victory, producers were not
exactly queuing outside my house. After what seemed ages, Raj
Sippy came to me with an offer for Raaz opposite Babita!

At last, I was getting a break but my happiness vanished when
the director told me that I would have to report every morning
at 8 a.m. for a nine o'clock shift. Now, waking up early is
just not my style. I am not an early bird. From childhood, I
have always risen late. My mother wouldn't allow anyone to
enter my room and disturb me. During school days, teachers
called me, "Late Latif." In college, it was kind of taken for
granted that Jatin does not attend the morning lecture. I
could not physically get ready so early. So when the director
told me about attending shooting early in the morning, my
heart sank. Still, I hoped I'd manage somehow. I was wrong.

Chapter 3 : Agony and Ecstasy.

On the first day of shooting, I reported three hours late. By
the time I reached the studio, it was 11 a.m. Everyone was
waiting and everyone was visibly angry. Nobody expected this
from a newcomer. Somebody even taunted, "if this is the way he
is going to behave, he ought to pack up before he begins." I
should have felt frightened by their reactions. Instead, I got
defensive. In my usual arrogant tone, I said, "in which case,
to hell with the career and to hell with this film. My life-
style cannot change for my career." I am sure the unit found
me swollen headed. And they not competely unjustified to think
so. What they didn't understand and what nobody understands
even today is that I don't arrive late for shootings on
purpose. It isn't as if I am sitting at home, enjoying
troubling the producer or maybe they thought that I was
probably drinking till late night and so found it difficult to
wake up. It was not so. What can I do if I cannot mentally
tune my body to get ready early? I was slow. I still am. I
like to settle down slowly. I take this time to prepare the
actor within me. A good actor ought to do his homework at home
and not on the sets. I came on the sets with my homework done.
But that is not how it was taken. My late arrival was made
into an ego problem, when it wasn't. I am wise enough not to
let my ego spoil my performance. Besides, I never forget a
golden line my father often repeated and which has over the
years become my favourite line as well -- "the more fruits a
tree bears, the more it bends. The greater the man, the more
humble he should remain."

Consciously, I have never been rude or uncooperative with
anyone. Unconsciously, I am sure it has happened several
times. I am human, after all. So what if I am Rajesh Khanna?
In fact, I soon realised that being Rajesh Khanna had more
deprivations than advantages. Now I could never stand on the
road and enjoy my pani puri or chaat like old times. Times
change and even though inside you, you are the same person,
outside, a lot of things transform...

For someone who was used to being referred to as 'Kaka' at
home, I was learning to adjust to the sound of a new name.
Rajesh Khanna. Jeetendra, my original name wasn't good enough,
for there was already one actor by the above name and there
were bound to be confusions. Jatin on the other hand was too
short and too familiar. "It isn't impressive," said my uncle,
so we dropped that name too. It was mamaji's idea to call me
Rajesh. "Rajesh Khanna sounds nice," uncle said. "Rajesh means
king of the kings. May God give you such prosperity too."

"I don't know how prosperous I am but I was quite certainly
amongst the most privileged of all actors then. If I could
report and get away coming so late for my shooting, I had to
be a very special star. During the outdoor shooting of Raaz at
Kulu, one evening, after pack up, I invited a few technicians
to my room for a drink. I t was biting cold and just as we
were getting ready to raise a toast, in walked the production-
controller of the unit. He yelled at everyone for sitting down
to drink. "Don't you know that we have an early morning
shoot?" Then looking at me, he said, "Aur aap... yeh sab
nawabi thaat pehli film mein shobha nahin dete! You have come
here to shoot, not to have fun." I was mad. I couldn't get
over the way he had yelled at everyone. I said, "Look, this is
not your set. This is my room. What I do after pack up, is not
your problem, but mine." He wasn't prepared for this. In
frustration, he picked up a plate and threw it on the floor. I
was equally mad. I said, "you break a plate and I'll break the
table." The argument continued. Ultimately, I said, "if this
is how you will behave, I walk out of the film, this minute.
All the expenses incurred due to my involvement, I'll
reimburse it on reaching Bombay." "We'll see tomorrow," he
said in a mysterious tone.

In the morning however, the production guy had changed his
mind. He apologised for his behaviour and as far as I was
concerned, all was forgiven and forgotten. It was only on
reaching Bombay, did I realise that his friendship was a mere
facade. Not wanting to inconvenience the shooting, he had at
that moment decided to toe the line. That was my first taste
of film politics. National politics, of course, came much

On reaching Bombay, this man complained about me to Sippy
saab. I was summoned to his office where I was grilled and
rebuked. Now, I had no option but to give my version of the
story. The good thing about the incident was that the
misunderstanding brought me closer to Sippy saab. Both,
personally and professionally. And in the coming years, we did
many more films together.

After Raaz, which didn't do well at the box-office, producers
were slow in coming with offers. Producer-director Chetan
Anand contacted me for Aakhri Khat. It wasn't a mainstream
subject but I was drawn to my role. A small budget film,
Aakhri Khat offered me no monetary gains, but as an actor, the
role was satisfying. More than anything, the film introduced
me to a new cinema. A fascination, that continued all through
my career. I did films like Baharon Ke Sapne, Khamoshi,
Aavishkar at a time I was doing relatively well for myself. In
fact, Khamoshi came to me because, apparently Waheeda Rehman
herself, recommended me for this role. So did Sharmila Tagore.
She had seen a photograph of mine and mentioned me to Shakti
Samanta. They were planning Aradhana and were on the look out
for a face that could click, both as the father as well as the
son. Aradhana was meant to be Sharmila Tagore's film. It's
destiny however that it became my launching pad. Nobody knows
this but the film went through deep trouble before it could
make it to the theatres. The distributors didn't think the
project was a hot cake because one, it had a newcomer in the
lead (that too in a double role), and two, more importantly,
sex-kitten Sharmila Tagore was deglamourised as she played a
widow after the interval. They predicted doom! "The film will
not be accepted," everyone said. They were wrong. Aradhana
created history! For months after its release, there were
serpentine queues outside all theatres.

I was happy. The adulation I received lifted my confidence.
And as days went by, I got used to raining hits -- Bandhan, Do
Raaste came around the same time. Both these films had Mumtaz.
Like Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz and I were turning into a popular
pair. Do Raaste had Anju Mahendroo, my first heroine too. The
two of us had a fight over something as a result of which both
of us behaved extremely unprofessionally while shooting
together. Everytime I said my lines, she looked in the
opposite direction and everytime she said her dialogues, I
looked away. This continued throughout the schedule and the
hassled producer was utterly confused as to what was happening
and why. Nor did we, frankly. For, if we did, we wouldn't have
behaved in so juvenile a fashion. I know it all sounds foolish
but one cannot disassociate an incident from one's life, just
because it was foolish or childish...

B. R. Chopra was one of the producers belonging to the United
Producers Association with whom I was under contract to do a
film at a salary of Rs. 2000 a month. Chopra wanted me to do a
film with him at a time when I was riding the crest of
success. Legally, I could not refuse him since I was bound by
my contract but ethically, I had different views on this
topic. Anyway since the film had to be completed in a month's
time we wanted a simple, uncomplicated subject.

Ittefaq was a murder mystery. Tautly written and tautly
directed, the film was gripping until the last frame. No
actor, no matter how brilliant can work miracles by himself.
The script, the direction had its contributions. I worked very
hard on my roles. I'd carefully work out character traits,
mannerisms, etc. There were times, I'd wake up my director in
the middle of the night because there was something disturbing
about the scene. Yet, the press, ironically, always attributed
my success only to my good luck. Journalists never ever said
that I was successful because I was talented, or because I
worked hard.

One film I worked very hard over and which didn't do well was
Maalik. Even today, I maintain that it was an unusual film, in
the sense that the conflict between science and religion is
contemporary and relevant. The film proclaims a theory. The
hero believes in God, the heroine, in science. I feel that the
film failed because the people don't believe in God any
longer. Even a hit pair (Sharmila and I) could not save this
All of us knew that Safar would do well. Partly because of the
cancer-struck hero and partly because of the unusual casting.
Feroz Khan, Sharmila and I were coming together in a film for
the first time. Even Ashok Kumar and Nadiraji had important
roles. The director, Asit Sen was so sensitive to the film.
What I had not anticipated was the backlash from my fans.
Angry letters warning me, not to die in future films, poured
in every day. Their strong reactions filled me with self
doubt. I realised then that I had a responsibility towards my
audience. The more letters I received, the more confused I
became. It's strange, but the true struggle of an actor begins
only after success. Because now the expectations became too
many. Also suddenly too many enemies sprang up on the scene.
They say success brings its own set of problems. I was facing
my set of problems too. And yet I was enjoying my stardom. My
In the meanwhile, contradictions continued. I hated being
mobbed. And I loved the adulation. I hated the internal
politics and I loved the glamour. I kept my head on my
shoulder, at least, I tried... For I knew, that the people I
meet while climbing up today would be the same people I'd meet
while coming down one day.
Haathi Mere Saathi came to me because other heroes didn't want
to share the credit with elephants. Also because working with
animals isn't always comfortable. The film not only proved to
be a smashing hit but it was a trendsetter of sorts. An
unforgettable incident happened during the making of HMS. As I
entered the set one day, I saw Chinappa Devar hitting a small
boy with a stick. When I asked Devarsaab, why he was doing
this, Devarsaab replied, "this boy is paying for your crime,
Sir. You report late for work everyday. I cannot tell you
anything because you are a superstar. But I have to give vent
to my anger." After this, on Devarsaab's set at least, I never
reported late for shooting.

The more successful I became, the more relatives appeared on
the scene. Their reactions were predictable. While some were
eager beavers, others were downright disapproving. "Do boys
from good families pursue a career in films?" asked some. "He
is my son and if as his father, I have no objection, I don't
see why must you, either?" was my father's answer to them. My
mother was more concerned about my personal life. "Don't you
love any woman who you would like to marry and bring home?,"
she'd ask me. All she wanted from me was a bride. "The house
is lonely, after you go for work." Except for this one, my
mother made no demands on me. "Your choice is mine," she said.
"You have to live with her. So bring someone you can be happy
with... Bring me a daughter-in-law and I'll make her my

My marriage was an obsession with her. From the beginning.
Ever since I was a child, she had been planning my baraat.
When I was very young, we had gone to attend a wedding in
Delhi. There, in fun, someone put me on the dulhe ki ghodi.
Few others, mistaking me for the groom (I had a paghdi on my
head) garlanded me and some more presented me with cash. A
passer-by, assuming me to be the asli groom said to his wife,
"aaj ke zamane mein bhi log bachchon ki shaadi karte hain."
Rather than feel offended by such a comment, my mother was
thrilled to bits and repeat the above incident to everyone at

Mother saw all my films except Anand. I made her promise me
that she would never see this film. And there was a reason for
this. Earlier, after a trial show of Safar, mother was taken
seriously ill and had to be hospitalised the same day. After
this, I did not permit her to see any film in which I suffered
or died. Even though mother understood that films were a make-
believe world, she got affected by my fighting scenes.
Strangely, she did not mind my love scenes, not even the so-
called hot romancing. Curious, I once asked her how come she
didn't mind me romancing with my heriones. She said, "pyar hi
to karta hai, chori nahin." Her only concern was that I should
not suffer. Watching me run on the streets in Ittefaq, she
said , "you have to go through so much trouble, chot to nahin
aati kahin?"

What hurt her most, and what she couldn't come to terms with
were the constant nasty rumours about my accident and ill-
health. Everyday, newspapers and magazines were forever
killing me or injuring me in accidents those days. And
everytime, she went through tremendous pain each time similar
articles appeared in print. "Mere bete ko duniya ki nazar lag
gayi." she told my father. Eventually to pacify her, my father
organised a big havan at home.

Anand got me an adulation I wasn't prepared for. Nobody knows
this but Anand was shot during the busiest phase on my career.
I was turning hysterical with work pressure. I got a sore
throat telling everyone that I could not sign more new films,
but nobody cared and nobody listened. Now I had films by kilos
and no dates!! I was being criticised for being overworked,
for being disorganised, for being greedy. I wasn't any of
these. My problem was, I didn't know how to say 'no'. During
this phase, once, I reported later than usual on Hrishikesh
Mukherjee's sets. Hrishida wasn't used to such carelessness.
They had been waiting to shoot a very important scene. I had a
very long dialogue to memorise and felt tortured. I kept
addressing the heroine by the wrong name. Frustrated, Hrishida
got up from his chair, "my heroine's name is not Madhu. It's
Renu. Why are you calling her Madhu?. Who is Madhu?" "Madhu is
my heroine of Aan Milo Sajna," I apologised to the director.
Gurnam, my secretary and friend present in the room said, "Of
Kati Patang Kaka, not Aan Milo Sajna."

I don't know how Gurnam coped with me. He worked for me 22
hours a day. We fought like cats and dogs. But at the same
time, we couldn't do without each other for a minute. We were
similar people. We had known each other ever since our theatre
days, so we had, kind of, got used to each other.

Even though I became very successful in films, my association
with theatre did not break. Once, every month, my theatre
friends came home for a long evening. Over drinks and
cigarettes, we discussed plays and performances. We talked
about our good old days. Those days, even after putting in so
much hard work, we were unable to get a full house at our
performances. To ensure a houseful, we friends had worked out
a trick. We'd go to Churchgate station, catch hold of
strangers and say, "arre Chunilal, Murarilal ne ye ticket
bheji hain. Bola hai theatre dekhne zaroor aana" and stuffing
a dozen tickets in his hand, run out of sight. The trick
invariably worked and we managed to get a houseful, even if in
the bargain we spent money from our own pockets. Still, the
effort was worth it and that's what mattered. I think every
phase one goes through has both good and bad memories. Those
days we ate pani puri at Chowpatty and dreamt of five-star
food. Today, one has five-star culture all around and one
craves for chaat pani of Chowpatty.

One day, driving home from a party at Taj Mahal Hotel, I
stopped on the road to eat pani puri. I covered myself with a
muffler and since it was very late in the night, I didn't
expect to be recognised. A group of kids spotted me and it
created a riot! MY driver had to smuggle me inside the car and
take me home. I dreamt of my incomplete pani puri plate that
night. But I dared not even tell anyone for after the chaos
nobody let me go anywhere near Chowpatty.

The more hits I gave, the more restless I felt. One day
Hrishikesh Mukherjee caught me in a reflective mood on his
sets. "When was it last that you saw the sun rise, Kaka?" he
asked me. "I don't remember." I said. "And when was it last
that you saw the sun set?" I smiled. I didn't have to answer.
He knew my answer.

Chapter 4 : Family of Four.

Success and fame, sometimes bring people closer and sometimes
draw them apart. Anju Mahendroo drifted away from me due to my
success. Too proud to be a part of my coterie, she went inward
and turned distant. Both socially and emotionally, we grew
apart. Looking back I feel it was nobody's fault. None of us
had anticipated this kind of success to happen to me. Neither
of us knew how to handle it. My success brought a lot of mixed
emotions and successively a lot of changes. All this was very
disturbing. Ideally, we should have sat down and sorted out
our confusions. We didn't.

Around this time, I met Dimple Kapadia. This was sometime in
the late 70's. She was accompanying her father to a film
party. "Meet my daughter, Kaka. She is your fan". Chunibhai
told me. A very beautiful, shy face stared at me. I shook
hands with her, asked her a few questions, like film stars do
and that's all. The second time I met her was on the sets of
Aan Milo Sajna. She was visiting somebody. I don't remember,
who. But the father and daughter spent a lot of time, chatting
with me in my room. When they left, they invited me for a
meal, at their home.

Between Dimple and me, we had just three meetings, but the
chemistry was already at work. We both felt attracted and even
though the age gap was considerable, I must confess, I was
thinking of long term.

In '71, I heard that Dimple was entering films. Raj Kapoor had
signed her for three films and Manmohan Desai was
contemplating signing her opposite me in Roti. Bobby was a
quickie and the film was completed within a year. During this
year, I met Dimple often. After beginning to work, she was
changing and it was interesting to watch her blossom. One day,
I had taken her for a drive at night and we stopped by the
beach for a walk. "Will you marry me?" I asked her. "If you
ask me to," she replied. The rest of course is history.

It was the most talked about marriage. So much has been
written about it, that I don't want to repeat the details.
After marriage, my first film to release was Daag. It was the
first of the extra marital series that followed. A year later
however, 73-74 on the whole proved to be a difficult phase! At
home, there were new adjustments. And at work, the chessboard
was being set for a new round of game. It was a distressing
phase. My films were flopping at the box-office and with each
flop, one more person deserted me. Even my so called friends
and colleagues.

My decline came about just as suddenly as my success. Out of
the blue. And this was expected after the kind of
insignificant films I had been signing, left, right, and
centre, I was paying the price for not being able to refuse
producers. Chhoti Bahu, Badnaam Farishtey, Mere Jeevan Saathi,
Shehzada, Maalik went away without a whimper. Slowly but
surely I realised that people's attitude towards me was
changing. I didn't like it. I wasn't used to failure and was
finding it difficult to accept it. I felt vulnerable and in
need of assurance. I wanted to be told that it was a phase and
that this too would pass. Not from those involved with me
professionally, but from those who were my friends. It took me
some time to realise however that there were no friends!

Dimple was there, but she was too young, too inexperienced to
handle such a crisis. Also, to be fair to her, I did not help
her. Had I surrendered to her, she would have coped better
than she did. But I withdrew. For fourteen months, I built a
wall around me, stopped trusting people, stopped signing new
films. Every day, my self-esteem was eroding a little more.
Those days I was forever preoccupied... forever suicidal.
Once, I even attempted walking into the sea, but at the last
minute pulled myself out of the depression. "I will not die a
failure," I promised myself. "I don't want people to say
Rajesh Khanna was a coward."

In early '74, I must have been the most lonely man around.
Lonely, irritable, persecuted. Not a very attractive frame of
mind to be in, but then what to do? I sat all by myself
brooding, thinking. The truth was I could not come to terms
with my failure. Had somebody intelligent and experienced
talked to me, made me understand the games of filmdom, I could
have been consoled. But there was no such consolation.

And then it happened. Like it happens in films. Just when I
was at the end of my tether, optimism came in the form of my
three releases. Aap Ki Kasam, Roti and Prem Nagar. All three
were major hits. Nobody had expected them to be, after the
lean phase I was going through. But the hat-trick restored my
confidence and the confidence producers had in me. I began to
feel better. No more was I edgy and irritable as I used to be.

Later, everyone told me that these lean phases happen to
everyone at the top. Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand. So
why must Rajesh Khanna be an exception. Exactly, only how come
nobody thought of saying these wise words to me when I was
going through the crisis. Why now, when the worst was over?
With experience, I have learnt, however, that when one is
going through a crisis, no logic, no explanation, no advice
helps. At that time you have to bear your emotional cross.
Just as I bore it and I am not ashamed to admit that I did. I
am an emotional man. Only if you are emotional, can you
project emotions on screen. For us actors, unfortunately, we
deal with emotions all the time, so much so, that sometimes,
this affects our personal life. There are times when we ought
to be expressing our feelings but we don't. And sometimes, we
do the reverse. It is not easy coping with a star. It must be
an accumulation of many such similar incidents that ultimately
set the rot in my relationship with Dimple, when she finally
decided to leave Aashirwad in the early 80s, exactly ten years
after our marriage.

Our split seemed the most obvious solution at that time. But
relationships don't break just because you shift addresses,
she is still my wife. The mother of my two lovely daughters
and no one can change that. Sometimes, pain builds walls
between people. But when you are distanced, you tend to think
more clearly. Our relationship improved after she moved away
from here. Now we are both more mature and less emotional when
dealing with the problem.

With my daughters, there was never any question of changing.
Dimple never came in the way of our relationship. She did not
poison my kids against me. I am proud of my daughters. They
are strong and sensible girls. In their adolescence, I get to
watch mine and Dimple's childhood. Chinky, the younger one, is
still treated like a kid in the family while Tina, the older
one is treated like an adult. I often ask what they will
become when they grow up. It is their life and I don't want to
interfere. They are still young, I think, and time will make
its own decisions. If either of them wants to join films, I
will not raise objections. How can I, considering both their
parents work in films. I stopped their mother from continuing
in films, I agree, but that is a different matter altogether.
One feels differently at different times.

Today, somehow, I am not averse to Dimple working in films.
But it has taken me a long time to get used to the idea. She
is doing my home production, Jai Shiv Shankar, to be released
sometime this year. An important turning point for me. I am
working with Dimple for the first time and also with my old
friend, Nikki (Anju Mahendroo), who assists me in production.

Nikki and I had been out of touch for almost 10 years and then
a common friend, very casually and very simply made us patch
up. It was as if the 10 years didn't exist. A rather strange
coming together, but not unrealistic. I'd say, today Anju and
I are even better friends than what we were ten years ago. Age
mellows you and one accepts each other with their
shortcomings. She assists me in my work, looks after my office
administration. We share a comfortable friendship.

In contrast, shooting with Dimple, I did feel awkward
initially, but I think she was more nervous than I was. Two
completely confident people at the Jai Shiv Shankar muhurat of
course, were my two daughters, Chinky and Tina.

Chapter 5 - Into The Fray.

My daughter Tina has often asked me why I felt the need to
turn into a producer. Chinky, the younger one wondered why I
couldn't direct Jai Shiv Shankar myself. I guess branching out
at a certain phase of your life becomes essential.

My journey into politics began when Sanjay Gandhi initiated
the Indian Youth Congress. Though I was very busy in films at
the time, I kept abreast with information I got from activists
like Ambika Soni and Moti Daryanani. Talking to them helped me
formulate views and opinions on burning issues of the country.
Still, my involvement in politics, at that time was virtually

For a long time now however I have been thinking of how I can
contribute to the society. As public figures, we owe some kind
of service to mankind and what better than to represent them
in the parliament? My foray into politics, has raised a lot of
eyebrows. The press, in particular has singled me out as a
target for their choicest jibes just because I have chosen to
fight the elections. Why? Why should a conscientious citizen
of the country, who has the progress of his fellowmen at
heart, be criticised for his decision? Why are they feeling
that I am not worthy of this position? Such things don't
happen with just one person wanting it. The party should have
faith in me too. The fact that the High Command chose me,
offered me a ticket, speaks of my calibre and capabilities. I
don't buy this criticism that I am not politically aware.

Even in my heyday, I was more politically aware than any of my
contemporaries. Only, I didn't blow my bugles. Today, however
I have to wield the megaphone, yell, scream. Ideal with crowds
here too, but face to face. It is different. Politics and
films are poles apart. Both have glamour about it. But that's
probably the only similarity. I will not pretend that I don't
enjoy politics. I do. Maybe because it is all still new, but
at the moment I am very stimulated by the atmosphere. Politics
is uncomfortable, taxing. Physically, especially, since I am
not used to dust, heat and inconvenience, but I am learning to
adjust, learning to cope. When I am given the day's schedule,
I study my itinerary. Now, it is not like old times when I got
into my car and drove to my shooting looking out of the
window. Today, I have to think, prepare answers to the several
arguments the fourth estate bombards me with. There are times
when I feel irritated ...angry ... but I am learning to check
my temper. It is not easy because I have been spoilt for too
long. But one cannot take a situation for granted. I am
learning something new everyday. I think it is terrific, for
the day I stop to learn, I know I will stagnate.

I don't care what people say. No matter what anyone feels, I
am going to continue with my political career. I don't care
whether I succeed or fail, I am going to serve the public. I
always knew that the people loved me, but how much, I
realised, only when I walked door to door in my constituency.
People showered me with love and warmth, even though I am not
at the top today. People are so selfless, we actors don't get
time to acknowledge their warmth. It is only now as a public
figure, when I walk on the streets, sacrifice my air-
conditioned environment that I realise how much suffering
exists in the country... It saddens me and I get further
determined to serve the public and never mind the media
backlash, my scoffing colleagues and finally my bickering
detractors. The issue is not that you win or lose, the issue
is that you fight for something you believe in.

(Junior G Rajesh Khanna)