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Amitabh Bachchan's moving tribute to Rajesh Khanna

Last updated on: July 19, 2012 15:57 IST

Amitabh Bachchan's moving tribute to Rajesh Khanna

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Amitabh Bachchan, who worked with Rajesh Khanna in two hits, Anand and Namak Haram, was present at the late superstar's funeral on Thursday morning with his family.

As Rajesh Khanna's fans, bereaving family members and scores of associates, friends jostled for space as they turned up to say their last goodbyes to him, the Big B's son Abhishek was spotted with his arms warmly around his father, supporting him and providing him an anchor in the crowd.

Understandably shaken by the turn of events, Amitabh Bachchan wrote a moving tribute to the late icon on his blog, starting with recalling his first meeting with the superstar he would later dethrone as the numero uno of Hindi films.

We present some excerpts here:

I first saw him in a film magazine, perhaps Filmfare. He was the winner of the Filmfare-Madhuri Talent Contest, a contest that I had applied to in the coming year and been 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.

The early, or shall I say preliminary rejection of my attempt to compete in the Filmfare-Madhuri contest, had made me leave my settled job in Calcutta. I had come away home to seek the possibilities of joining the 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 or opportunity for me, in this new profession!


Image: Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna in Anand


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'Being cast with him in Anand was like a miracle'

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Bachchan also talks about his first film with Rajesh Khanna, the iconic and much loved Hrishikesh Mukherjee film Anand.

He writes, "Soon after I was being cast opposite him in 'Anand'. This 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."


Image: Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna in Anand


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'The frenzy he garnered was a sight to behold'

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Inevitably, Bachchan also recalls the unprecedented mass hysteria Rajesh Khanna induced at the prime of his career.

Like several other industry insiders who have their versions of it that they witnessed, Bachchan describes several incidents that he was a witness to on the sets of Anand.

He writes, "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 - a most unheard of occurrence then. In his trade mark Rajesh Khanna kurta pyjama, he almost always looked the boy next door, one that girls would want to take home to Mother."


Image: Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan in Anand


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'I visited his residence 'Aashirwad' just once when we were working together'

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Amitabh writes warmly of how he was received at the Khanna household when he paid his first visit to the superstar's home, Aashirwad.

"I visited his residence 'Aashirwad' just once when we were working together, to wish him on his birthday, only to realize when I reached their, that I had come in a day earlier. He was magnanimous enough to understand my awkwardness and asked me to stay back ; then after a while driving me to Shakti Samanta's (who made 'Aaradhana' and many other films with him, and 'Great Gambler' and 'Barsaat ki ek Raat' with me ) house to join him for dinner !"


Image: Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan


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'Rajesh Khanna always remained his quiet, elegant, regal self'

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He signs off with the superstar's last words before he passed away.

'When the shooting of 'Anand' began at Mohan Studios, Hrishi da's favorite locale, now a concrete housing colony, the one moment that always worried me was, that last scene when I break down after his death and urge him emotionally to speak ! Not being able to find a method in my own very limited acting experience, I sought the help of Mehmood bhai, in who's house I was living with his brother Anwar Ali. And I still remember what he told me -

'He said, " just think Amitabh,  R- a- j- e- s- h  K- h- a- n- n- a  is dead  !! and you will get everything right ".

'It was not so much a tutorial in acting that he expounded. It was an exalted acknowledgement of Rajesh Khanna's presence and position in the psyche of the nation, that he was drawing my attention to. 

'Times changed, people changed, circumstances changed, but Rajesh Khanna always remained his quiet, elegant, regal self ! As I sat at his home this afternoon, to pay my respects, soon after learning of his passing away, a close functionary of his, came up to me and told me in a choked voice what his last words were -" time ho gaya hai ! Pack Up !"


Image: Amitabh Bachchan at Ashirwad
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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