This man’s life story amazes me more and more. The other day I was watching an apparently ‘flop’ film which starred Rajesh Khanna just before the days he stopped acting. The film, Khudai, made in 1994, looks like it reflected the life story of the fallen Superstar.
Khanna had tried to come back. With a reasonably good storyline, the film never emerged on the surface due to terrible direction, editing, background score and sets. But Kaka did try to stay afloat. And surprise of all surprises, Anju Mahendru, his first and ‘only’ real love, did do something for the film, as her name was in the acknowledgements’ list.
We can’t blame him for withdrawing into a shell in the later years of his life. He was being offered films like ‘Wafa’ where I saw him rubbing sun-screen on a small-time heroine’s back, and promptly shut off YouTube. This is when he was quite old and it was clearly visible that he had difficulty sitting on his haunches. The director and the small-time actress must have been really living in Mars to have made the king of Bollywood do something like that.
But when most of the cinema stalwarts ignored the massive (yet physically quite tiny) person on stage during the Colors Apsara Awards earlier this year, I felt very sad. Rajesh Khanna was clearly a fish out of water. His humongous image was apparently lost in complexity of the garish show business that was present. No one was really rude to him, but no one really cared if he was there. From Hema Malini to Zeenat Aman, his colleagues from all his superhit films, no one bothered to smile his way, or give a nod. It seemed as though he was invisible.
Rajesh Khanna’s death is hitting us slowly. His DVD sale is rising slowly. Now wherever I look, I find him in a movie. Whichever channel I switch to, there’s his song. I think, “Oh yes, this too was a Rajesh Khanna film.” All of a sudden, we are waking up to the fact that he was alive all this while.
I wish I was a filmmaker and made a tailor-made film for him, just the way films are made to suit Amitabh Bachchan’s age and personality. I wish he’d let us know he is there. I wish he was a bit more approachable and didn’t shoo off people from his life. I wished he had lived life a bit more accepting the present generation.
A newspaper was right in its headline: Jatin Khanna dies, Rajesh Khanna lives on.
I’m piling up his DVDs right away.