New Delhi: Actors before him have tasted success. Amitabh Bachchan after him built a following among the 'misunderstood' youths in the 70s. But the frenzy that the appearance of Rajesh Khanna on the silver screen triggered among his female fans was entirely unprecedented. A style icon who made a trademark out of a hairdo, Khanna was cinema's first superbly suave superstar.
His songs 'Mere sapno ki raani', 'O mere dil ke chain' and 'Roop tera mastana' made many a young woman's heart skip a beat. His mannerism, his unique style of dancing, dialogue delivery and gestures added to his onscreen persona. He inspired countless youngsters to imitate him.
At the peak of his career, Khanna, popularly called Kaka, would be mobbed during public appearances as female fans kissed his car, which would be covered with lipstick marks. They lined the roads, cheering and chanting his name. Women sent him letters written in blood.
He found success with films like 'Baharon Ke Sapne', 'Aurat", 'Doli' and 'Ittefaq', but it was the 1969 film 'Aradhana' opposite Sharmila Tagore that catapulted Khanna to superstardom. The film also saw the resurgence of Kishore Kumar, who eventually became the official playback voice of Khanna and the actor-singer duo delivered a number of hit songs subsequently, memorable among them being 'Mere sapno ki raani', 'Roop tera mastana', 'Kuch to log kahenge' and 'Jai jai shiv shankar'.
In an era long before this age of instant connect of mobile phones and internet, Rajesh Khanna was the man who sparked a frenzy never seen before and never since, not even by the likes of Bachchan.
He started the trend of wearing guru kurtas and tailors were hard pressed to copy the cut and style for doting fans. Hair salons were inundated with requests from men to replicate the 'Rajesh Khanna Hair Style'.
His very name spelt magic in the 1970s. He sparked hysteria among his legions of women fans, who would wait for hours for a glimpse. They got married to his photograph, cut their finger, let the blood flow and applied 'sindoor'.
It was all about charisma - a certain something that went beyond the art of acting. Describing the charm of Khanna, Amitabh once said: "I got famous purely because I was working with Rajesh Khanna in 'Anand'. People asked me questions like, 'How is he to look at? What does he do?'" (Inputs from PTI and IANS)Twitter buzz: RIP Rajesh Khanna