This week on Flashback, we take a look at the times and life of Rajesh Khanna, the first superstar of Indian and Hindi Cinema. Born on 29 December 1942 as Jatin Khanna in Amritsar, Punjab, India, Rajesh entered Hindi films in the year 1965 when he began shooting for Raaz and did 180 films – 163 feature films and 17 short films. He first tasted success as an actor with 3 consecutive hit films like Aakhri Khat, Raaz and Aurat. In 1969, Rajesh Khanna achieved super-stardom with Shakti Samantha’s ‘Aradhana” (1969). He became the craze of the nation, and critics across India started calling him the First Superstar of both Indian Cinema and Hindi Films and remained so alone as the Superstar for 7 years (1969-1976). He also made the world record of having 17 successive super-hits in 3 years from 1969-71 which included 15 consecutive solo super-hit films and 2 two hero films namely Andaz and Maryada. The main difference between him and his predecessors, successors, contemporaries was that Khanna’s films ran successfully in whole of India and not just Hindi speaking areas and he did films of every genre simultaneously and has more critically acclaimed films to his credit than all other Hindi Actors of every generation. Khanna’s pairing with Mumtaz always produced much success as they had all of their 8 films together as major platinum jubilee hits. His films with Sharmila Tagore, Asha Parekh, Tanuja, Hema Malini and Zeenat Aman was a favourite with audiences too in 70’s. Anju Mahendru was his girlfriend in 1968-1972, the then-aspiring actress but they had breakup in 1972 and Khanna married Dimple Kapadia in March 1973, who debut in the film Bobby.
Rajesh was the sole Superstar of Indian and Hindi Cinema from 1969-1976 but had a bad phase from 1976-78 and so has to share Superstar of Hindi Films status with Amitabh from 1977-1991. He has won Filmfare Best Actor Awards for 3 times and was nominated for 14 times. Rajesh Khanna was a Bollywood actor and film producer who is known for his work in Hindi cinema. During his career, he appeared in more than 168 feature films and 12 short films. He still holds an unbroken record. He won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor three times and the BFJA Awards for Best Actor four times, received the Filmfare Special Award in 1991, and was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. Khanna has been called the “First Superstar” of Indian cinema and was the highest paid Indian actor from 1970 to 1987 whereas Amitabh Bachchan shared the same tag with Khanna from 1980 to 1987. In June 2012, it was reported that Rajesh Khanna’s health had been deteriorating for some time. Khanna was suffering from cancer for the duration of the prior year and had undergone chemotherapy sessions. His funeral was attended by lakhs of people and his fans had come from places like Surat, Ahmedabad, California, Singapore and from other foreign countries.
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