Mumbai: “Time ho gaya hai, pack up”. Those were Rajesh Khanna’s last words, says Amitabh Bachchan in his blog.
Bachchan wrote that a close functionary told him Rajesh’s last words in a choked voice on Wednesday when he went to condole the death of India’s first superstar at his home Ashirwad.
Bachchan recalled his long experience with Khanna 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 Bachchan.
He said he had left his settled job in Kolkata 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!” Bachchan confessed.
Later, when BAchchan 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 Mehmoud with his own very large standing and gave Bachchan an opportunity to get an informal meet at one of the shootings of Khanna. “...It was a very formal hand shake and that was it; a routine for him, an honour for me!”
Soon after that, Bachchan was cast opposite 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” Bachchan 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 [director 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,” Bachchan 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 the sets and was continuously surrounded by them, Hrishida 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,” Bachchan said.
In his trademark Khanna kurta-pyjama, he almost always looked the boy next door, one that girls would want to take home to mother, but amid all this there was a quiet elegance within him, Bachchan added.
“In his boyish plainness there was something that was regal in his demeanour. It was the magnet that attracted others to him — who at times were almost servile to him in nature,” Bachchan said.