Thursday, July 19, 2012

Time to 'pack up' were Rajesh Khanna's last words: Amitabh Bachchan

Time to `pack up` were Rajesh Khanna`s last words: Amitabh Bachchan

"Time ho gaya hai, pack up". Those were Rajesh Khanna's last words, says Amitabh Bachchan in his blog.

Amitabh wrote that a close functionary told him Rajesh's last words in a choked voice Wednesday when he gone to condole the death of India's first superstar at his home Ashirwad.

Amitabh recalled his long experience with Rajesh whom he first saw as the winner of the Filmfare-Madhuri Talent Contest. It was the same contest for which Amitabh also applied the following year but was rejected. 

"His film 'Aradhana' was my next meeting with him, at the Rivoli Theatre in Connaught Place in New Delhi, which my mother took me along to see. The packed audience and their reactions to this young handsome man was impermeable," wrote Amitabh.

He said he had left his settled job in Calcutta and gone away from home to seek the possibilities of joining the (film) industry in some other way. 

"But one look at Rajesh Khanna made me realise that with people like him around, there would be little chance of opportunity for me, in this new profession!" Amitabh confessed. 

Later, when Amitabh was called for 'Saat Hindustani' and travelled to Mumbai for the role, he developed a close friendship with one of the co-stars in the movie, Anwar Ali. 

Anwal Ali's brother was the illustrious (comedian) Mehmood with his own very large standing and gave Amitabh an opportunity to get an informal meet at one of the shootings of Rajesh Khanna. "...It was a very formal hand shake and that was it; a routine for him, an honour for me!"

Soon after that, Amitabh was cast opposite Rajesh Khanna in "Anand", which he described was "like a miracle, god's own blessing and one that gave me reverse respect; the moment that anyone came to know that I was working with the Rajesh Khanna, my importance grew. And I gloated in its wake."

During breaks in the shooting of "Anand" Amitabh would go to Delhi and gleefully describe the scenes and dialogues of the movie, as also its music to all whom he met.

"There were no CDs then, just the spooled tapes and getting Hrishida (Hrishikesh Mukherjee) to part with one such for me was an exercise in futility. But I was able to get one and 'Kahin dur jab din dhal jaaye..' played endlessly on my very repair stricken tape recorder," Amitabh recalled.

Amitabh said Rajesh Khanna was simple and quiet, would sit in the front seat of his modest Herald, driven by his Man Friday, Kabir. 

"He would attract many visitors on set and was continuously surrounded by them, Hrishi-da permitting! The frenzy and the following he garnered was a sight to behold. In the 1970 era his fans came from Spain to meet him and a most unheard of occurrence then," Amitabh said.

In his trademark Rajesh Khanna kurta-pyjama, he almost always looked the boy next door, one that girls would want to take home to mother, but amidst all this there was a quiet elegance within him, Amitabh added. 

"In his boyish plainness there was something that was regal in his demeanor. It was the magnet that attracted others to him - who at times were almost servile to him in nature," Amitabh said. 

Grandson Aarav lights Rajesh Khanna's pyre

The last rites of Rajesh Khanna were performed by his grandson Aarav at the Vile Parle crematorium Thursday with family, friends and fans bidding the superstar a tearful adieu. 

The actor's nine-year-old grandson thrust a torch into the pyre with the help of his actor-father Akshay Kumar, who is married to Rajesh Khanna's elder daughter Twinkle, and the body of the superstar, who became heartthrob of millions since attaining stardom in 1969, was engulfed in flames.

His last journey generated the same frenzy that he did when he attained stardom in the 1970s. 

The legend's final journey started around 10 a.m. from his residence Aashirwad in Bandra. His body, in a transparent casket, was placed on a mini-truck decorated with white flowers and the crowd moved along with it. 

Thousands, including the superstar's fans, friends, family and film fraternity members gathered to say a tearful goodbye to Rajesh Khanna, signifying the loss of a great star. 

The procession started from his Bandra residence and went through Carter Road, Turner Road and S.V. Road before reaching the crematorium. The original plan was to have a longer procession, but due to rain it was kept short, but it didn't deter his fans, who gathered in huge numbers.

The frenzy was perhaps just what the Bollywood's first superstar had been missing all these years. 

It was a farewell that the superstar deserved. 

With him on his last journey were his estranged wife Dimple, who took care of him in the last days, his younger daughter Rinke and son-in-law, Akshay. Twinkle was missing from the procession as she is in the family way. 

Among the Bollywood big wigs who attended his last rites were Amitabh Bachchan, his successor as superstar, Sudhir Mishra, Rani Mukerji, Karan Johar, Sajid Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Vinod Khanna and Aadesh Shrivastava. 

Best Regards,

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