In 1996 before the general elections in India, Rajesh Khanna visited Ahmedabad. He was going to be the congress candidate for Gandhinagar that year. The press conference at the President hotel on C G Road was surprisingly less crowded. There were local journalists and some scattered politicos. After the formal announcements and Q&A, the organizers were busy with lunch. Due to a loop hole on the part of organizers or simply because no one cared, Rajesh Khanna was still in the conference room.
A barely teenage girl accompanied her journo dad that day to this conference. Wait, I was that girl. It was mostly about a glimpse of the ex-super star. I had seen every possible movie that came my way in the 80s and 90s, and needless to say Anand, Bawarchi, Namak Haram, Aradhana, and for some reason Avatar were seen many times. I had no idea instead of just a glimpse I will get an almost 15 minute long conversation with Rajesh Khanna.
Having spoken to many film industrywallahs as a journalist later hasn’t mattered much. But this felt more like a long forgotten childhood memory.
Was it perhaps because he was left alone in a room without much importance that day or was it because he spoke to me without any air of what he had been?
I vaguely remember telling him about my interest in music and he was more attentive after I told him I was not interested in playback for movies, I just sing because I enjoy it. He must have feigned interest but he said that way music will give me more pleasure if I didn’t turn it into a profession. Rest of the conversation is lost in my mind, but finally when a couple of guys remembered to take him to lunch, while getting escorted to the dining room, he turned back and raised two thumbs up to me (probably practicing his political style) and said ‘lagey raho’. Wow!
I remember telling mom about how pink he was. I also remember how wishfully she told me the first movie she ever watched was ‘Aan Milo Sajana’. Who knew there would be blogs and Facebook to share these experiences on in the future.
A career full of so much success, controversies, intrigue and a desperate media and social media means the RIP bandwagon is already on the roll.
Millions of girls in 60s and 70s would have fell over for those few minutes. Those moments were lost to a young girl of 90s. Had that been Shahrukh Khan…
The irony is, Rajesh Khanna knew his time was gone, and the disappointment lingered in his body language. No matter what kind of ups and downs he went through, he gets a very important chapter in the history of Hindi Cinema.
The repertoire of Rajesh Khanna’s songs is interestingly full of gems that feel like a fitting tribute to the man.
Anything I write beyond this will be repetitive or cheesy. I’m just going to let the songs of Anand take over…