RAJESH KHANNA AKA KAKA WAS INDEED INCOMPARABLE. A superstar of yester years, a great human being, full of magnanimity, a heart throb of millions in India n around the globe as well, particularly of women in the age group of 20 to 60 n even more till date, historic personalities and epitome of generous actor like Rajesh Khanna never die. He is truly immortal as icons like him instead become the permanent source of inspiration to their fans and people of artistic profession universally.
An actor par excellence with outstanding versatility , unparalleled in the history of Bollywood including living legend n stalwarts like Amitabh Bachchan always remain in the hearts n minds of their admirers for an infinite time.
Rajesh Khanna has, after his sad demise, ultimately proved amply that personalities like him in the arena of films are born only once. I’m extremely fortunate and honoured that being an ordinary human being, I was privileged enough to be in close proximity with a legendary superstar Rajesh Khanna right from the first day of his being chosen as official congress candidate by Rajiv Gandhi from New Delhi parliamentary constituency till the time of his losing the elections at the hands of former Union minister and BJP candidate Mr.Jagmohan n thereafter as well.
Very few people know that a superstar of Bollywood and a creator of mass frenzy n hysteria amongst his followers and fans from 1969 to 1972, giving 15 super duper hits in a short span of merely 2-3 years and working in more than 165 hit films, Rajesh Khanna was actually a very down-to-earth human being who always valued the sentiments and aspirations of people hailing from the grassroots levels. He carried behind a charisma n power to hypnotize one n all. His fans n college going girls used to wait outside his famous Carter Road fascinating Bungalow ASHIRVAD, earlier DIMPLE , bought from Silver Jubilee star Rajendra Kumar after receiving advance payment of Rs 6 lakhs from the south India producer of HAATHI MERE SATHI. 0
Today, the electronic as well as the print media is appreciating Rajesh Khanna for his exemplary performance as a superstar in Bollywood but nobody has taken the view about Rajesh Khanna’s attitude towards common masses as a social activist and a parliamentarian from 1991 till 1996, when he not only made the BJP stalwart Advani run away from the New Delhi parliamentary constituency to Gandhinagar, for the fear of being defeated again but his capacity to defeat his co-actor Shatrugan Sinha with a heavy margin from the same seat vacated by Mr.L.K. Advani was phenomenal.
While working as the media advisor to Rajesh Khanna as a Member of Parliament from New Delhi, I’m really overwhelmed to notice that despite being a superstar, he performed his duties as an MP of Congress quite dedicatedly and efficiently.
In this context, I would not hesitate to say that the speed with which the stalwart of Indian cinema Mr.Amitabh Bachchan surreptitiously failed to perform his duties as Member of Parliament from Allahabad, UP in a very short span of time, Mr.Rajesh Khanna on the contrary, despite of various odds and trivial circumstances, performed his socio-political responsibilities towards the electorates of New Delhi very efficiently and with great amount of ease.
In addition, despite the fact that the popularity and craze for Rajesh Khanna was still on the rise even after his being the Member of Parliamnet from New Delhi, he not only easily mixed with the electorates on daily basis at his residence and in various parts of his constituency but also resolved personal and various developmental issues of New Delhi constituency by listening to each and every electorate of cross-section of the society and holding regular meetings with officials of different departments of the govt. pertaining to constituency related problems after assuming the charge as MP, New Delhi after shifting to his official bungalow no.81, Lodhi Estate.
Not only did Rajesh Khanna got the entire house renovated bearing expenses from his own pocket, but also got a full-fledged office arranged including good number of chairs fitted on his lawns for the convenience of the common public who used to come at his 81 Lodhi Estate Bungalo regularly for resolution of their grievances n have glance of the superstar turned MP.
I vividly remember that even being a superstar of yesteryear and his preoccupations, Mr. Rajesh Khanna used to take out time from his busy schedule to meet each and every visitor and confabulate with them ensuring that their woes, if any, are resolved forthwith.
He had made special arrangements at his official bungalow that a full-fledged staff delivers letters to each and every electorate coming to him with various problems to be delivered to different authorities of the govt. Retired Captain Kapila looked after his office n communication system including handing over recommendation letters to the electorates for reddressal of their grievances.
I have a number of fondly cherished memories of my fruitful association with Rajesh Khanna. Being his ardent fan since my childhood days, I have never ever thought of meeting him so closely even in the most bizzare of my dreams.
While working as a correspondent in a vernacular daily of western Uttar Pradesh, having my office in INS Building, Rafi Marg, one fine evening when I came to know that Rajesh Khanna has been asked by Rajiv Gandhi to contest from New Delhi parliamentary constituency as official Congress candidate, I desperately thought to join him to look after his media affairs. and as such, after great efforts, was able to find him in Hotel Ashok where he had been staying for a few days. A close associate of Rajesh Khanna, namely Steven Fernandes, came on phone when I expressed my keen desire to meet him in person to discuss matters relating to the media coordination during his election. After sime efforts, I was however sucessful in meeting him at Hotel Ashok at 11 o’clock midnight. I was really shocked on seeing Rajesh Khanna coming out of his suite and meeting me in the outer room along with Mr.Rajiv Shukla, a senior journalist and a former BCCI president.
After deliberating for an hour or so, Mr.Rajesh Khanna while showing immense interest in my capability of media coordination etc , he readily agreed to give me the responsibility.
He happily asked me to meet next time when he finally comes back from Bombay to contest the election. After few days, I met him again at 15, Canning Lane, his first election office where he was sitting with his one time close astrological friend Bharat Upmanyu and the senior journalist Rajiv Shukla. on seeing me, Rajesh Khanna was highly delighted and publicly entruted me with the job of media coordination during his New Delhi parliamentary election. this is the talk of 1991. since then, I continuously accompanied him in all his election campaigns n engagements.
Rajesh Khanna was such a good human human being and a humble personality that there was not a single inkling of proud and superstardom in him while mixing with electorates of his constituency, whether they were from jhuggi-jhopri clusters or people of the lowest echelons of the society.
He campaigned extensively in various nooks and corners of the constituency in the peak summers under the scorching heat, sometimes barefooted in padayatras measuring 10-20 kilometres a day.
His special soft corner for the media persons in particular was also well-known. he used to meet media persons on one-to-one basis regularly and enjoyed interacting with them for hours together.
He was very conscious for media publicity and had special soft corner for English press.
I still remember his close proximity with Mr.Pankaj Vohra, then Metro Editor of Times of India and Mr. Sumit Mishra of Jansatta . it is a strange secret that when Shatrughan Sinha, the BJP candidate, was extensively campaigning against Rajesh Khanna and his wife Poonam Sinha was immensely instrumental in her husband’s campaign, Mr.Rajesh Khanna also felt the need to call his wife for the campaigning in New Delhi to counter Poonam Sinha’s efforts. Mr.R.K. Dhawan, who was the main force behind Rajesh Khanna’s campaign arranged Dimple Kapadia’s entry in New Delhi scenario with daughter Twinkle despite the fact that she was allegedly not in good terms with her husband at that point of time and was staying separately.
However, she came to Delhi with Twinkle Khanna and campaigned for Kakaji till the end, ultimately contributing immensely in Kaka’s victory. Rajesh Khanna’s commitment of support for his subordinates, especially those working for him, can be gauged from the fact that he not only arranged a personal telephone connection, a two-wheeler and a govt. accommodation for my cousin, shared by me in 1992-93 by personally approaching the minister concerned but also helped his staff financially from time to time.
He was also instrumental in helping the poor and the downtroddens by way of arranging for their treatment expenses and also contributing socially. He never discouraged his subordinates or the staff ever and always stood by them during the thick and thin. Rajesh Khanna never opted for monetary or physical gains but always maintained his healthy ego. He always maintained his personal principles and never drifted from his personal likings and choices, come what may. He never liked psychophancy and always believed in friends, though he was the man always believing in leading a highly comfortable and stylish lifestyle. He was equally concerned about the poor and the have-nots. To substantiate this contention, I would like to mention about an incident of 1992 when Rajesh Khanna hosted a party for the media persons in Hotel Meridian attended by a good number of journlaists from the print and electronic media.
While the party was under progress, Mr.Rajesh Khanna got a call from the residents of Princess Park near India Gate that their houses were being demolished by the authorities. Khanna immediately not only left the party in between but straightaway went to the spot and sat on hunger strike in front of Tilak Marg Police Station till late evening and only got up when the issue was finally resolved in the favour of the affected poor residents. In adition to this very few people know that he was Kaka who approached the then union finance minister with his electorates n got the income tax exemption limit enhanced to Rs 80,000 making the government employees jubilant who comprised in good numbers in New Delhi. There are hundreds of other examples which prove the greatness and pro-people attitude of this phenomenal personality who is unfortunately not with us today, but space is the constraint.
Though Rajesh Khanna’s absence is being felt by his innumerbale fans worldwide, the electorates of New Delhi parliamentary constituency who always adored him( particularly who loved him as a superstar n politician) for being so heartily close to them as their superstar n affectionate public representative. He was indeed a charismatic superstar who hypnotized his fans within no time n forever.