The Reasons That Led Rajesh Khanna To His Downfall
Image: Rajesh Khanna
'Rajesh Khanna made many mistakes'
I never thought it would end," Khanna once said to Rauf Ahmed, the editor of the film monthly Super.
"I had no reference points on how to handle such success. No one had experienced it."
Khanna, Rauf tells me, "made many mistakes. He rode roughshod over many people, alienated many like Yash Chopra who he'd once been close to. Meanwhile, Amitabh [Bachchan], with brother Bunty [Ajitabh] by his side, had consolidated his position in the industry, and formed a clique of producers and directors like Prakash Mehra and Manmohan Desai who gave him solid hits."
The Bachchan wave of the 1970s killed Khanna's superstardom.
Javed Akhtar, the man credited, along with his scriptwriting partner Salim Khan, with creating the angry young man persona for Bachchan, which is supposed to have turned the tide against the Khanna phenomena, speaks to me from America: "Khanna witnessed unbelievable popularity, such that no one had ever seen or imagined. In fact from 1969 to 1973, it was a one-horse race. It would be said of those days that before any Indian child could say mama and papa, he would say Rajesh Khanna."
Akhtar says that Salim and he captured the angst and anger of the era with films like Sholay and Zanjeer, but it wasn't a well thought-through strategy to bring down Khanna. "We didn't think about it when we did it; perhaps because we were of the same generation we just reflected it. Until then Khanna's was an unprecedented run of success."
Image: Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana
'Rajesh Khanna had the shortest but most mammoth spell as a superstar'
Image: Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan Namak Haram
'Khanna was brought to Mumbai by his adoptive parents'
Image: Rajesh Khanna in Amar Prem
'Rajesj Khanna didn't give a damn about anybody'
Image: Rajesh Khanna in Andaz
After his glory days, Khanna withdrew into the environs of his famous bungalow
Image: Rajesh Khanna in Anand
'Every woman was in love with him'
Image: Dimple Kapadia and Rajesh Khanna