Mumbai: Hundreds of emotional fans and industry professionals bid their last adieu to Bollywood's greatest romantic hero Rajesh Khanna whose last rites were performed by his family at Mumbai's Vile Parle crematorium amid pouring rain on Thursday.
In a nostalgic flashback to the 70s when Khanna was at the top of his career, weeping fans, most of them women, lined up outside his bungalow 'Aashirwad' on Carter Road from 10 AM carrying cut-outs and posters of the star. The body was taken to the crematorium in Juhu in an open hearse, bedecked with white flowers.
Khanna's body was accompanied by his son-in-law and actor Akshay Kumar, estranged wife Dimple Kapadia and his younger daughter Rinke Khanna. The vehicle had huge black and white photographs of the actor on both its sides.
His 9-year-old grandson Aarav lit the funeral pyre even as fans and on-lookers jostled outside the Pawan Hans crematorium to catch a glimpse of the proceedings. Police resorted to a lathicharge to control the burgeoning crowd.
A large number of friends from the film fraternity, including his co-star Amitabh Bachchan, united in grief at the demise of the man who created mass hysteria during his heydays. Abhishek Bachchan, Manoj Kumar, Rani Mukherjee and Karan Johar were also present at the crematorium to pay their last respects.
Actor Dilip Kumar paid a beautiful tribute."Death is just the end of life, not a relationship. Rajesh will be missed dearly," he said.
"He has gone to a nice and heavenly place, we are happy about that," Akshay Kumar said after his death around 10 am. The Hindi film icon passed away at his residence 'Aashirwad' yesterday. Although the cause of his death was not officially announced by the family, those close to the actor hinted at liver infection.
The crowd outside the crematorium was a reflection of Khanna's iconic status and cops were seen having a troubled time controlling fans, who had gathered in huge numbers on the road and the skywalk at Santa Cruz to bid adieu to the 'King of Romance'. Khanna became the only actor to deliver 15 consecutive solo super hits in his illustrious career with movies 'Aradhana', 'Haathi Mere Saathi', 'Anand' and 'Amar Prem' between 1969 and 1972. He carved a niche for himself in Bollywood dominated in those days by the troika of Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor and the likes of Shammi Kapoor and Rajendra Kumar through his persona of a romantic hero.
He married Dimple Kapadia in 1973 and spilt with her in 1984 but the couple never divorced. He is survived by two daughters - Twinkle and Rinke. His elder daughter married Akshay Kumar and Rinki is married to investment banker Samir Saran.
A pall of gloom descended on the film industry with Khanna's death with artists calling it the end of an era in Bollywood. Actress Shabana Azmi said, "There was something for everybody in Rajesh Khanna. He was every inch the star and he totally and completely enjoyed it. He played it to the hilt when he wanted and wore it lightly when he wanted. But none of his arrogance ever touched his relationship with his fans, with whom he had immediate, one to one contact.
Dimple said on July 14 Khanna had said, 'It's time to pack up'. So he lived it and realized that it was time to go."
Saira Banu, who missed a chance of working with Khanna during his stardom days, said the actor was very humble. "I was supposed to work with him in 'Choti Bahu' but I could not because I was ill. I shot with him for two days and found that he was very charming, humble and a shy person. May his soul rest in peace," Banu said.
His contemporary Manoj Kumar was planning to meet Khanna. "I had called Dimple but she told me not to come as Rajesh Khanna was not in a position to talk...I miss him a lot and I have shared some of the best memories with him."
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