Rajesh Khanna’s death is being condoled all over the world. After Dara Singh, He is the second Bollywood actor to die this week
The death of Rajesh Khanna marks the end of the romantic era that had coloured India since the 70s. With the passing away of the first superstar of Indian cinema, popular culture and Indian society has reached a turning point where it stands facing the black, harsh realities after the veil of romanticism has lifted.
The present generation applauds the crass comedies and gory violence on the big screen. The elders who feasted on the romantic era of Rajesh Khanna cringe at the insensitivity that has creeped into Indian cinema in the name of realism. Those who had spent their youths in the 70s and 80s deciphering the subtle and gentler performance by the romantic stars like Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz, Mehmood, Mala Sinha and Dilip Kumar, mourn at the loss of sensual, quiter romance that silently made lasting impressions.
Unlike those days of refined and understated acting, the overtly sexy, bombastic, shockingly violent and tight scripts of the new Gangs of Bollywood come out as harsh and garish ways of minting crores.
It is said that in the days of Rajesh Khanna, when one wanted reality, one saw films by Shyam Benegal. And the norm was to watch movies for the sheer thrill of romance. Now the commercial movies are Shanghai, Gangs of Wasseypur – icons of insensitive violence, that the elders mourn are making the younger generation lose their sense of right and wrong and leading them away from ethics, morals and character.
Despite the lack of romance, there is no dearth of minds that recognize and appreciate the value of the romanticism of yore.
Current Indian Prime Minister said in his condolence message for the dead star, “Rajesh Khanna was a celebrated artiste who entertained millions of Indians with his performance in a variety of films. He was called the first superstar of Indian cinema and his popularity as a romantic hero in the 1960s and 1970s is a part of our film folklore.”
Khanna’s epic career spanning four decades and covering 150 films cannot be easily erased, even with loud rock music or blunt animal violence on the screen. It continues to inspire many from the current generation and we sometimes get to find such gems of hope as ‘Dor’, ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, ‘Naseem’ and ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ between the sexist, crass humour; the violence and gore; the dark plots and harsh cinematography.
Also mourned are the days of melody when Rajesh Khanna’s screen persona and Kishore Kumar’ voice lilting RD Burman’s lyrics lived longer in people’s memories than the actual films.
Having given a lifetime of performances in his films, Khanna shifted to politics in 1992, becoming a member of parliament for the Congress party from New Delhi.
The legendary actor was born on December 29, 1942, as Jatin Khanna. He was raised foster parents and when he decided to take up acting as his career, his uncle changed his name to Rajesh. Lovingly called Kaka by the industry, he lives on in the hearts of millions.