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Rajesh Khanna, the man who brought superstardom to Hindi films

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Rajesh Khanna, the man who brought superstardom to Hindi films
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Mumbai: Rajesh Khanna, whose romantic persona in songs like 'Mere sapno ki raani', 'O mere dil ke chain' and 'Roop tera mastana' made many a young woman's heart skip a beat, was Hindi film world's first actor to attain superstar status.

His mannerism, his unique style of dancing, dialogue delivery and gestures added to his onscreen persona and have been imitated countless number of times.

The 69-year-old actor breathed his last at his Mumbai residence today.

At the peak of his career, Khanna, popularly called Kaka, would be mobbed during public appearances as fans kissed his car, which would be covered with lipstick marks. They lined the road, cheering and chanting his name. Female fans sent him letters written in blood.

His predecessors Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar broke hearts in their time no doubt, but the hysteria connected with Khanna was unprecedented.

Born as Jatin Khanna on December 29, 1942, he was adopted and raised by foster parents. He began taking interest in acting while in school and performed in a number of plays. It was his uncle who changed Khanna's first name to Rajesh when he decided to join films.

In 1965, he won an all India talent contest organised by United Producers and Filmfare and as a result made his debut the next year in "Aakhri Khat", directed by Chetan Anand. His second film "Raaz" was also a part of his predetermined prize for winning the competition.

He found success with films like "Baharon Ke Sapne", "Aurat", "Doli" and "Ittefaq", but it was the 1969 film "Aradhana" opposite Sharmila Tagore that catapulted Khanna to superstardom.

The film also saw the resurgence of Kishore Kumar, who eventually became the official playback voice of Khanna and the actor-singer duo delivered a number of hit songs subsequently, memorable among them being 'Mere sapno ki raani', 'Roop tera mastana', 'Kuch to log kahenge' and 'Jai jai shiv shankar'.

PTI

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