New Delhi: Bollywood's first superstar Rajesh Khanna breathed his last on July 18 at his residence in Mumbai. He was 69 and is survived by his estranged wife Dimple Kapadia and two daughters Twinkle and Rinke. Film actor Akshay Kumar was his son-in-law. His last rites will be performed on Thursday.
The veteran actor was admitted to Mumbai's Lilavati hospital last week following reports of low blood pressure, but was discharged on Tuesday and was at his Mumbai residence since then.
Earlier on June 24, he was admitted to a hospital following kidney problems.
The actor is hailed as India's first superstar after 15 consecutive solo superhits between 1969 and 1972, a record that remains unbroken.
The Bollywood industry expressed grief at the death of the first superstar of Bollywood. "It is a terrible day for the industry and all of us," actress Saira Banu said.
Sharmila Tagore said, "He was an amazing actor."
Actress Neha Dhupia tweeted, "RIP Rajesh khanna Saab ... U , ur stardom, ur magic will live forever!" (sic)
Rajesh Khanna's Bollywood journey
His rise to Bollywood superstar reads like a movie script. As a struggling actor in Mumbai, Rajesh Khanna won the All India Talent Contest organised in association with Filmfare, beating over 10,000 contestants.
Though the actor got his first break soon after in Chetan Anand's 'Akhri Khat' in 1966, and followed it up with a few films including Asit Sen's 'Khamoshi', it wasn't until his double role n 'Aradhana' in 1969 opposte Sharmila Tagore that a star was born.
Through the early 1970s films like 'Kati Patang', 'Safar', 'Ittefaq', 'Aan Milo Sajna' and 'Haathi Mere Saathi' consolidated his superstardom. During this phase Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 'Anand' remains one of the actor's most memorable performances. Khanna, music composer RD Burman and singer Kishore Kumar were a team most sought after in the early 70s.
He married actress Dimple while he was still riding his success wave in 1973, but the two separated a few years later.
He was also successfully paired with a string of leading ladies including Sharmila Tagore, Asha Parekh and Mumtaz.
Though Rajesh Khanna's popularity declined with the rise of the angry young man - Amitabh Bachchan - the star continued to deliver hits well into the 1980s with films like 'Souten', 'Dharam Kanta' and 'Maqsad'. He eventually moved on to do older and character roles and enjoyed box-office success with 'Avatar' and 'Swarg'.
In the 1990s the actor took a break from films and joined politics having won the 1992 by elections on a Congress ticket from Delhi.
Though Khanna appeared in a B grade film recently, it was this commercial directed by R Balki that brought him back to the limelight. The commercial recreates an era actually lived by the Bollywood's first superstar who leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire generations to come.