New Delhi: Born on December 29, 1942, as Jatin Khanna, Rajesh Khanna was raised by the relatives of his biological parents. He attended St. Sebestian's Goan High School along with his childhood friend Ravi Kapoor, who later adopted the screen name Jeetendra. Always high on confidence, Khanna was the other name for style. He approached filmmakers in his own MG sports car during his struggling days.
Destined to be an actor, Khanna had won several acting competitions at various levels before debuting in 'Aakhri Khat' (1966). What else could a first timer wish for other than a director like Chetan Anand? However, his real break was Ravindra Dave's 'Raaz' (1967). After a string of successful films such as 'Baharon Ke Sapne', 'Aradhana', 'Ittefaq', and 'Do Raaste', he marched into the hearts of millions of his fans, who credited Khanna with the title of superstar.
Delivering 15 consecutive solo hits seemed easy every time his face appeared on the posters of a new film. Dev Anand's era was gone and the nation had started digressing from Nehruvian philosophies. Khanna and his contemporary filmmakers realised the importance of providing an alternate reality to the spectators.
His most memorable role, \'Anand\', showed how one can play a character without wearing the superstar tag.
It brought in an era of storytelling when filmmakers would not hesitate to bring out the weaknesses in the main characters on the screen. It brought Khanna closer to the general audiences who wanted to come out of Dev Anand and Guru Dutt's preaching style of acting and dialogue delivery.
He became the man who loved till death, and who was brave enough to admit his mistakes, unlike his predecessors who knew what emotion they want to evoke right from the first shot.
He didn't have a Greek god's features, and did not fight with hundreds of goons, in fact he looked vulnerable, but it was this susceptibility which endeared him to his female fans.
Thanks to composers such as SD Burman, Salil Chaudhary and Laxmikant-Pyarelal, the actor became the epitome of romance. He nodded his way into the hearts of college going, cycle riding girls.
The second phase of his acting career began with 'Anand'. Probably his most memorable role, 'Anand' showed how one can play a character without wearing the superstar tag. With 'Dushman', 'Amar Prem', 'Bawarchi', 'Daag', 'Avishkar', 'Namak Haram' and 'Aap Ki Kasam', the cordial relation with the audiences went on till the social set up changed its course in 1975.
Khanna's personal life was not as glittering as his screen avatars. His relationship with Anju Mahendru soured, while his marriage with Dimple Kapadia was over after 11 years in 1984. Dimple remained his closest partner in life.
Khanna's stint with the small screen through serials like 'Apne Paraye' and 'Ittefaq' can be considered successful. He tried his hand at politics and was an MP from Delhi.
Today, he might not be with his fans (ironically he did a TV commercial saying he will remain with his fans forever), but lovers of every age group will look up to his films for inspiration and hope.
RIP Rajesh Khanna!