It’s the end of an era. Isn’t it strange that superstars have a persona so large, even larger than life, that we often forget that they are also mortals and one day or the other they will leave the world like every other living soul.
On Wednesday, July 18, 2012, “Bollywood’s first original superstar” Rajesh Khanna, popularly known as Kaka, died at the age of 69 at ‘Ashirwad’, his house on Carter Road in Mumbai.
But as media covered the news of his death, all the newspapers, television channels used the phrase “Bollywood’s first superstar” and then I for a moment I asked myself, ‘what, first superstar?’ Yes, no doubt he was a big star the Indian cinema had ever seen, but was he the first superstar, as the media, Indian and foreign, kept on buzzing? I was surprised whether Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand, who ruled the Hindi film industry even before Rajesh Khanna, were not superstars? Didn’t they give super hits?
If not Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand, Kapoor family is still giving hits in Bollywood. Raj Kapoor has left an entire family of stars. His sons Rishi Kapoor and Randhir Kapoor, his grandson Ranbir Kapoor and granddaughters Karishma Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor – even his daughters-in-law Babita and Neetu Singh have given some big hits -- have given hits in the film industry. And moreover, who can deny the contributions of Raj Kapoor to Hindi cinema which is probably greater than that of most of his contemporaries?
Was Raj Kapoor not a superstar then? Didn’t he deliver successful films like: Barsaat (1949), Aah (1953), Awaara (1951), Boot Polish (1954), Shree 420 (1955), Chori Chori (1956), Anari (1959), Kanhaiya (1959), Main Nashe Men Hoon (1959), Jis Desh Men Ganga Behti Hai (1960), Aashiq (1962), Ek Dil Sao Afsane (1963), Sangam (1964), Teesri Kasam (1966), Around the World (1967), Diwana (1967), Sapnon Ka Saudagar (1968), Mera Naam Joker (1970)?
And what about the legendary songs is films delivered? Who will stop from humming "Laga Chunri Mein Daag" (Dil Hi To Hai), "Dil Ka Haal Sune Dil Wala", "Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh" and "Pyar Hua Ikrar Hua" (Shree 420), "Ae Bhai Zara Dekh Ke Chalo" (Mera Naam Joker), (Shree 420), "Aaja Sanam Madhur Chandni Mein Hum", "Jahan Mein Jati Hoon Wahin Chale Aate Ho" and "Yeh Raat Bhigi Bhigi, Yeh Mast Fizayen" (Chori Chori), "Masti Bhara Hai Samaan", "Belia Belia Belia" and "Mama O Mama" (Parvarish), "Chalat Musafir" (Teesri Kasam), "Lallah Allah Tera Nigehbaan" (Abdullah)?
Not to forget the fact that Raj Kapoor had received many awards, including nine Filmfare Awards and 19 nominations. His acting was rated as one of the "Top-Ten Performances of all time", by the Time Magazine.
How can anyone forget Dilip Kumar and his superhit songs like “Ude jab jab zulfen teri” (Naya Daur, 1957), “Suhana safar aur yeh mausam haseen” ( Madhumati, 1958), “Do sitaron ka zameen par hai milan” (Kohinoor, 1960), “Tu kahe agar” (Andaz, 1949), “Nain lad jaye hain” (Ganga Jamuna, 1961), “Insaaf ka mandir hai ye” (Amar, 1954), “Pyaar kiya toh darna kya” (Mughal-E-Azam, 1960), “Saala main toh saab ban gaya” (Sagina, 1974), “Tere husn ki kya tareef karun” (Leader, 1964), and others?
Not to forget an important fact that Dilip Kumar-starrer Mughal-E-Azam (1960) broke box office records in India when released and held the record for the highest grossing film ever until Sholay broke its record in 1975. This was (counting Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas) the most expensive film ever made in Indian history. Tailors were brought from Delhi to stitch the costumes, specialists from Surat-Khambayat were employed for the embroidery, Hyderabad goldsmiths made the jewellery, Kolhapur craftsmen designed the crowns, Rajasthan ironsmiths crafted the weapons, and the elaborate footwear was ordered from Agra. For the battle sequence, 2,000 camels, 4,000 horses and 8,000 troops were used, many of them soldiers on loan from the Indian Army. Altogether the film cost Rs 1.5 crores (132.7 crores in present terms).
Then getting back to Dev Anand. Guide (1965), Jewel Thief (1967), Hum Dono (1961), Kaala Bazaar (1960), Teen Devian (1965), Asli Naqli (1962), Tere Ghar Ke Saamne (1963), Kaala Paani (1958), Johnny Mera Naam (1970), Bombai Ka Baboo (1960), CID (1956), Paying Guest (1957), Nau Do Gyarah (1957), Jewel Thief (1967), Johny Mera Naam (1970), Tere Mere Sapne (1971), Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), etc.
And the hit songs, rather say evergreen like him are so many: Aankhon hi aankhon mein, Aye dil hai mushkil jeena yahan, Jaata kahan hai deewane, Kahin pe nigahen, Leke pehla pehla pyaar (CID), Chod do aanchal, Mana janab ne pukara nahin, Haye haye yeh nigahen, O nigahen mastana, Chand phir nikla (Paying Guest), Hum hain rahi pyaar ke, Aankhon mein kya ji (Nau Do Gyarah), Hum bekhudi mein tumko, Acha ji main haari, Nazar lagi raja tore bangle par (Kaala Pani), Khoya khoya chand, Rimjhim ke tarane leke, Sach hue sapne tere (Kala Baazar), Main zindagi ka saath nibhata, Abhi na jao chodke, Allah tero naam (Hum Dono), Tere ghar ke samne, Dil ka bhanwar, Dekho rootha na karo, Sun le tu dil ki sada, Tu kahan yeh bata (Tere Ghar Ke Saamne), Arre yaar meri tum bhi ho ghazab, Aise to na dekho, Khwab ho tum ya koi haqeeqat, Likha hai teri aankhon mein (Teen Deviyan), Wahan kaun hai tera, Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna, Gaata rahe mera dil, Tere mere sapne, Kya se kya ho gaya, Din dhal jaaye (Guide), Yeh dil na hota bechara, Raat akeli, Aasman ke neeche, Hothon pe aisi baat, Dil pukare aare (Jewel Thief), Palbhar ke liye, O mere raja, Nafrat karne walon, Husn ke lakhon rang (Johny Mera Naam), Hey maine kasam li, Jaise radha ne mala japi, Jeevan ki bagiya, Ta thai tat thai (Tere Mere Sapne), Phoolon ka taaron ka, Dum maaro dum, I love you, Kanchi re (Hare Rama Hare Krishna), etc.
Then how come Rajesh Khanna is considered the first superstar? Is it because the term superstar was not coined in the time of Raj Kapoor or Dilip Kumar or Dev Anand? Or is it the term film critics and analysts gave him? Why did they choose that particular term? Is it because of the countless stories of women who were literally crazy about him? It’s not a secret that women, irrespective of their marital status, would send him letters written in their blood. Female fans would wait outside his Bandra home just to get a glimpse of their heartthrob. They chanted his name, left lipstick marks all over his car and even got married to his photograph. To define all this popularity did they find the word “superstar” apt? Maybe. Or is it because he has an enviable track record of 15 consecutive superhits in the 1970s, a record that will probably never be broken? Maybe. Or just those three dialogues made them to call him a superstar? Maybe.
“Ae Babu Moshai, zindagi aur maut uparwale ke haath hai jahan-panah. Usse na aap badal sakte hain na main.” (Anand, 1971)
“Pushpa, I hate tears.” (Amar Prem, 1972)
“Kisi badi khushi ke intezaar mein hum yeh chote chote khushiyoon ke mauqay kho dete hain.” (Bawarchi, 1972).
These dialogues are evergreen and whoever has watched his films will never forget these lines. His dialogues remain etched in the memories of all his viewers. And the songs too live in the memory of Indians, after all he brought alive onscreen the creative efforts of RD Burman, Anand Bakshi and Kishore Kumar, and he had the fortune of featuring in some of Bollywood’s greatest ever melodies. Whatever be the reason, he remains in our mind and his songs will keep haunting us...
And here goes some of his hit melodious numbers:
- Kora Kagaz Tha Yeh Man Mera (Aradhana) 1969
-Mere Sapnon Ki Raani (Aradhana) 1969
- Roop Tera Mastana (Aradhana) 1969
- Woh Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi (Khamoshi) 1969
- Achha To Hum Chalte Hain (Aan Milo Sajna) 1970
- Dil Sacha Aur Chehra Jhootha (Sachcha Jhootha) 1970
- Jeevan Se Bhari Teri Ankhen (Safar) 1970
- Meri Pyari Behaniya (Sachcha Jhootha) 1970
- Yahan Wahan Sare Jahan (Aan Milo Sajna) 1970
- Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai (Kati Patang) 1970
- Yeh Shaam Mastani (Kati Patang) 1970
- Pyaar Deewana Hota Hai (Kati Patang) 1970
- Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye (Anand) 1971
- Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli (Anand) 1971
- Chala Jata Hoon (Mere Jeevan Saathi) 1972
- Chingari Koi Bhadke (Amar Prem) 1972
- Kuch To Log Kahenge (Amar Prem) 1972
- O Mere Dil Ke Chain (Mere Jeevan Saathi)1972
- Diye Jalte Hain (Namak Haram) 1973
- Main Shayar Badnam (Namak Haram) 1973
- Mere Dil Mein Aaj Kya Hai (Daag)1973
- Jai Jai Shiv Shankar (Aap Ki Kasam) 1974
- Karvate Badalte Rahe (Aap Ki Kasam) 1974
- Gore Rang Pe Na Itna (Roti) 1974
- Zindagi Ke Safar Mein (Aap Ki Kasam) 1974
- Mere Naina Saawan Bhadon (Mehbooba) 1976
- Aate Jaate Khoobsurat (Anurodh) 1977
- Humein Tum Se Pyaar Kitna (Kudrat) 1981
- Agar Tum Na Hote (Agar Tum Na Hote) 1983
- Shayad Meri Shaadi (Souten) 1983
- Zindagi Pyar Ka Geet (Souten) 1983