, Punjab, India
Rajesh Khanna is an Indian actor of Hindi films and has been Hindi film producer and an Indian politician.
He appeared in 163 films of which 106 had him as the solo lead hero and 22 were two hero projects. He won three Filmfare Best Actor Awards and was nominated for the same fourteen times. He received the maximum BFJA Awards for Best Actor (Hindi) – four times and nominated 25 times. He was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. Khanna is referred to as the "First Superstar" of Hindi cinema. He made his debut in 1966 with Aakhri Khat and rose to prominence with his performances in films like Raaz, Baharon Ke Sapne, Ittefaq and Aradhana.
Khanna was born in Amritsar on 29 December 1942. He was adopted and raised by foster parents who were relatives of his biological parents. Khanna lived in Thakurdwar near Girgaon. Khanna attended St. Sebastian’s Goan High School in Girgaum, along with his friend Ravi Kapoor, who later took the stage name Jeetendra. Their mothers were friends.
Khanna gradually started taking interest in theatre and did a lot of stage and theater plays in his school and college days and won many prizes in the inter college drama competitions. Khanna became a rare newcomer who struggled in his own MG sports car to get work in theatre and films in the early sixties. Both friends later studied in Kishinchand Chellaram College(KC). When Jeetendra went for his first film audition, it was Khanna who tutored him. Khanna's uncle changed Khanna's first name to Rajesh when Khanna decided to join films. His friends and his wife call him Kaka.
Rajesh Khanna was one of the eight finalists in the 1965 All India Talent Contest organised by United Producers and Filmfare from more than ten thousand contestants. Subsequently Khanna won the contest. He made his film debut in the 1966 film Aakhri Khat directed by Chetan Anand, followed by Raaz directed by Ravindra Dave both of which were a part of his predetermined prize for winning the All-India United Producers’ Talent Competition.
G.P. Sippy and Nasir Hussain were the first to sign Rajesh Khanna after he won the contest. Khanna in an interview to Hindu newspaper said,"Though “Aakhri Khat” is my first film, I received my first break as a leading actor in Ravindra Dave's, “Raaz” in 1967. My heroine was Babita, already a popular actress then. Though I had lots of confidence, I was shy in facing the camera initially. In my first three shots, I had to perform with stress on my body language and dialogue delivery. Though I was right with my dialogues, my movements were not up to the mark. Ravindra Dave explained me my scenes and movements very clearly correcting my way of walking".
Being under contract with United Producers, he got projects like Aurat, Doli and Ittefaq. He was then noticed for his performances in films like Baharon Ke Sapne, Aurat (1967), Doli, Aradhana and Ittefaq. Later Waheeda Rehman suggested Asit Sen to take Khanna for the lead role in Khamoshi. Through Aradhana he rose to "instant national fame" and film critics referred to him as the first superstar of India. In that film, Rajesh Khanna was cast in a double role (father and son) opposite Sharmila Tagore and Farida Jalal. The film also saw the resurgence of Kishore Kumar, who eventually became the official playback voice of Rajesh Khanna. The Kishore Kumar-Rajesh Khanna combination worked miracles and it was almost impossible to see them as separate identities. They became a singer-actor duo and together they gave many songs till 1991.
Then in year 1971, Haathi Mere Saathi became the biggest hit and also became the biggest grosser ever till then.Khanna is also credited with giving Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar their first chance to become screenplay writers by offering them work in Haathi Mere Saathi. Javed Akhthar accepted in an interview "One day, he went to Salimsaab and said that Mr. Devar had given him a huge signing amount with which he could complete the payment for his bungalow Aashirwad. But the film's script was far from being satisfactory. He told us that if we could set right the script, he would make sure we got both money and credit."
Rajesh acted alongside Mumtaz in eight successful films. They were neighbours and got along very well, and as a result they shared a great on-screen chemistry. After Khanna married, Mumtaz decided to marry millionaire Mayur Madhwani in 1974. At the time, she was doing three films Aap ki Kasam, Roti and Prem Kahani with Khanna. She decided to quit movies only after completing these films. When she left films Khanna felt very lost. In one of her interviews, Mumtaz was quoted saying "I would pull his leg and tease him about his fan following. Whenever Rajesh entered a hotel in Madras, there was a queue of 600 girls waiting to see him at midnight. As a result, even I would get some importance, as people would ask for my autograph as well. He was very generous with his associates, and would party a lot."
During the peak of his career he would be mobbed during public appearances. Fans kissed his car, which would be covered with lipstick marks, and lined the road, cheering and chanting his name. Female fans sent him letters written in their blood.
There used to be a line of cars of his producers and hysterical fans outside his bungalow every day. Actor Mehmood parodied him in Bombay to Goa where the driver and conductor of the bus were called 'Rajesh' and 'Khanna'. Even today, he remains the favourite of mimicry artists, who copy his trademark style and dialogue delivery. During the filming of Amar Prem there was a scene that needed to be filmed at Howrah Bridge with a boat carrying Khanna with Sharmila moving under the bridge.
The authorities ruled this scene out as they realized that if the public found out that the hero of the film would be there, it may create problems on the bridge itself, and that it might collapse due to the amount of people trying to get a glimpse of their favourite actor. Film critic Monojit Lahiri remembers “Girls married themselves to photographs of Rajesh Khanna, cutting their fingers and applying the blood as sindoor. Rajesh was God, there has never been such hysteria.”
Several songs sung by Kishore Kumar in the 1970s were based on Rajesh Khanna. During the filming of the song 'Mere Sapnon Ki Rani' in Aradhana, Sharmila Tagore was shooting for a Satyajit Ray film and director Shakti Samanta had to shoot their scenes separately and then join the scenes together.The BBC made a film on him, titled Bombay Superstar, in 1974, the shooting for which began the same time when he got married and his film Daag premiered. In the video it can be noticed that Khanna was shooting for Aap Ki Kasam. A textbook prescribed by the Bombay University contained an essay, 'The Charisma of Rajesh Khanna!'.
Sharmila Tagore said in interview to India Express, “Women came out in droves to see Kaka (Khanna). They would stand in queues outside the studios to catch a glimpse, they would marry his photographs, they would pull at his clothes. Delhi girls were crazier for him than Mumbai girls. He needed police protection when he was in public. I have never seen anything like this before and since.”
Music remained one of the biggest attractions of all Rajesh Khanna films throughout his career. Many of the musical scores for Khanna's films were composed by Sachin Dev Burman, R.D. Burman and Laxmikant-Pyarelal. The trio of Rajesh Khanna, Kishore Kumar and R.D. Burman went on to make a number of popular films, including Kati Patang, Amar Prem, Shehzada, Apna Desh, Mere Jeevan Saathi, Aap Ki Kasam, Ajnabee, Namak Haraam, Maha Chor, Karm, Phir Wohi Raat, Aanchal, Kudrat, Ashanti, Agar Tum Na Hote, Awaaz, Hum Dono and Alag Alag.
Rajesh Khanna had 15 consecutive solo superhits between 1969 to 1972, which is still an unbroken record in Indian film history.The commercial success of his films declined during 1976–78.In calculation of the 15 films, 2 hero films like Maryada,Andaz and films with box office result as hits were excluded -Mere Jeevan Saathi, Choti Bahu and Shehzada.
Khanna considered Guru Dutt, Meena Kumari and Geeta Bali as his idols.Khanna dislosed in an interview," My inspirations include, Dilip Kumar's dedication and intensity, Raj Kapoor's spontaneity, Dev Anand's style and Shammi Kapoor's rhythm.