Divya Solgamawrote on Aug 20 2008 6:14PM
On December 29, 1942 was born a boy who was destined to make history before his prime and also become a part of history before his time-a strange story written by the invisible hand of destiny. Jatin Khanna was born into a middle class family. He had no great ambitions. His only love was theatre and acting, specifically. He was among the most popular actors in inter-collegiate drama competition in Bombay. His parents named him Jeetendra but very few people called him by that name. To his family he was Kaka and to his friends he was Jatin. When he signed his first film, Raaz, none of these three names seemed appropriate. There was one Jeetendra already in movie town, you couldn't have another one jumping around. Jatin was too short and familiar while Kaka was good only as a nickname. It's another story that Kaka was picked up later by the whole industry including his wife Dimple but way back in the '60s everyone agreed that this Jeetendra needed a new name for the screen promptly. It was his uncle who hit upon the right one. Rajesh Khanna had a regal ring to it since Rajesh meant King of The Kings. Mamaji hoped that with his new name Rajesh Khanna would reign over showbiz. And he did, for a good part of the sensational '70s.
His love for acting made him join a talent contest organised by the United Producers Talent Contest, a contest planned by some of the leading filmmakers of the time. He was the undisputed winner. He signed his first film, "Raaz' in 1967 However, despite his kingly name Rajesh Khanna didn't become a phenomenon overnight. Raaz didn't set the box-office on fire. Chetan Anand's Aakhri Khat made him a part of meaningful cinema but didn't get him much money. Baharon Ke Sapne, Khamoshi and Avishkar that followed proved that this young man with chinky eyes and a puckish grin could act, but they also didn't make much of an impact. When the industry was almost planning to show him the way out came Shakti Samanta's "Aaradhana". The month, November the year, 1969, the film created a roaring and soaring sensation and Rajesh Khanna was a bigger sensation. Interestingly, if Waheeda Rehman had recommended Rajesh Khanna's name for Khamoshi then it was Shamila Tagore who coaxed Shakti Samata whose Evening In Paris had turned her from a devi to a glamour girl, to take a dekko at Rajesh. Shakti Samanta was initially skeptical. Though Aradhana was a showcase for Sharmila the role of her lover and illegitimate son was also integral to the script. And the producer-director was looking for an actor who could play both father and son convincingly. However, though a dynamic double role, not many of the saleable stars showed much interest in Aradhana. For one, they had been given to believe that it was Sharmila's film. Then the hero romancing the dream girl died suddenly and the son was paired up with Farida Jalal. Hard put for stars Shakti eventually settled for Rajesh Khanna. He was declared the greatest superstar India had ever seen. He was more talk about then any other women being in India, treated almost like God and like God himself by many… Success came to Rajesh Khanna like a season which seemed to have no end. Every film with him was a silver jubilee which was a very small success for him. It was only jubilees and more jubilees and success and more success for him, the kind of success no Dilip Kumar or Raj Kapoor or Dev Anand, the trio who ruled till he came and conquered had ever seen… During his heyday 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 own blood. Rajesh Khanna was the dream man of every young woman, the dream son every father and mother and the dream brother of every sister. He was the most wanted romantic actor. But he also proved to be a very sensitive actor with films like "Anand", "Safar", "Khamoshi", "Amar Prem", "Baawarchi" and "Namak Haram" which had a struggling actor called Amitabh Bachchan as his co-star who he considered a nobody and no competition for him and predicted a very bleak future for him. He openly told people that their was only one Rajesh Khanna and their would never be another … Than suddenly everything went through squally and smothering weather within just five years. The dream slowly showed signed of turning into a nightmare and finally turned out into one of the most stupefying and stunning nightmare of all time. The God fell from his pedestal. His magic failed and refused to come back. He had ten major flops in a row which marked the beginning of the end.. He created a sensation in a very different way when he married the one-film ("Bobby"), the gorgeous Dimple Kapadia who was just out of her teens. They soon had two daughters, Twinkle and Rinkle. Soon the marriage led to a separation of ways. The actor in him showed signs of rising with films like "Thodisi Bewafaai", "Amardeep" and "Prem Nagar" but they were just sparks in the growing darkness that was surrounding him on all sight. He was loosing faith in himself, his God and the same people who worshipped him and were willing to live and die for him also lost faith in him. His misery reached its peak and a point of no returns when that nobody who was his co-star in "Anand' and "Namak Haram" , Amitabh Bachchan snatched his throne and everything that was his and left him staggering. The actor in him tried to shine as an elderly character in films like "Avtaar" and "Amrit" but it was too late. His time had come to an and before its prime for reasons people are still trying to find out. By the early 1990s he quit acting for many years and served as Hon'ble M.P. from prestigious seat of New Delhi Constituency from (1991-1996). He made his acting comeback in Aa Ab Laut Chalen (1999) and Kyaa Dil Ne Kahaa (2002) where he played elderly father roles.
Rajesh Khanna tried to make it as a producer of film but failed miserably. He joined politics and met with his Waterloo because he never could get the hang of the real business of politics. In 2006 he appeared in Jaana - Let's Fall in Love In 2007 he has officially announced his second innings and has signed about ten new films and a new TV serial. He was also a Celebrity Judge in a reality show at Sony Channel called K for Kishore, based on the legendary singer late Kishore Kumar Ganguly. Rajesh Khanna will always live as a lesson for all the stars and super stars who are and who will be.