There are few actors who can match the stardom that Rajesh Khanna enjoyed in his heydays. Zee News traces the eventful life of the man who redefined the word ‘superstar’ in Indian cinema. In his prime Rajesh Khanna achieved unprecedented success with a record of 15 consecutive hits. Here is a list of best of his films which earned him the title of the first ‘superstar’ of Bollywood. These films have now become cult classics of Hindi cinema and will be cherished by the lovers of Indian cinema for time immemorial.
Directed by master craftsman of his time Shakti Samantha, ‘Aaradhna’ went on to bag the best film of the year at the Filmfare Awards. The onus of the film winning hearts of critics and masses alike not only went to the maker but also to the lead actor of the film, Rajesh Khanna. His impeccable acting left a deep impression on the masses. The song ‘mere sapno ki rani’ from the film was a huge hit and Rajesh Khanna, the actor serenading Sharmila Tagore on his jeep became an instant hit.
Sachaa Jhutha 1970
With an interesting plot, this Manmohan Desai film struck a chord with the masses of that time primarily because of the lead actor Rajesh Khanna. The one aspect which made all of Kaka’s film endearing was the music and songs. Of course, apart from the superlative acting that Khanna exhibited in his films, the actor breathed life in all the songs he appeared in. The song from ‘Sacha Jhutha’- ‘Dil ko dekho chehra na dekho’ still is replicated by the younger generation of today.
After the stupendous success of ‘Aardhana’, Rajesh Khanna paired up again with Sharmila Tagore for Asit Sen’s ‘Safar’. Besides Rajesh Khanna, the film also featured established actors like Ashok Kumar and Feroz Khan, but it was the magic of the ‘superstar’ which marveled cinemagoers of that era. The film became the tenth top-grossing production of the year.
Kati Patang 1970
By this time, Rajesh Khanna had become a name to reckon with. Every other actress of the time wanted to be cast opposite the reigning superstar. Bollywood actress Asha Parekh was chosen as the romantic lead opposite Khanna and the film struck gold yet again at the Box Office. But more than the chemistry between Asha and Rajesh in the film, the actor-singer duo of Kishore Kumar and Rajesh Khanna shone brilliantly. Songs like ‘Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai’ and ‘Yeh Shaam Mastani’ established a strong camaraderie between Kishore Kumar and Rajesh Khanna with the whole nation swaying to the numbers belted out from this amazing jodi.
If an effort is made to rate the distinction of Rajesh Khanna in ‘Anand’, this space would surely fall short to conscript his exemplary work of art in the film. With Amitabh Bachchan as co-star, Rajesh Khanna delivered a masterpiece in ‘Anand’, which later as they say went on to become a cult classic of Bollywood. The film till today, remains an inspiration for budding actors and filmmakers for the sheer ease of acting displayed by the actor for portraying such an emotional and layered character of Anand.
Haathi Mere Saathi 1971
The biggest superstar of the time tried something for the kids with this film. Rajesh Khanna starrer ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ ranks high among the biggest hits of his career. The film is considered a classic because it is still unequalled as a complete family fare in its genre for kids. ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ was the biggest hit of 1971 going by box office collections and went on to eclipse the Raj Khosla’s much-talked about film ‘Mera Gaon Mera Desh’.
This Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic saw Rakesh Khanna play the role of a bawarchi (chef) in the film. Breathing life into the role of a lovable chef whose sole objective in life was to spread love and peace, Rajesh Khanna played the lead role to the hilt. The film again is remembered for its soulful renditions like ‘Bhor Aai Gaya Andhiyara’ which was enacted by Rajesh Khanna in the voice of Kishore Kumar. Kumar by that time became synonymous with the voice of Rajesh Khanna.
Daag: A Poem of Love 1973
The first film from the prestigious production house of Yash Raj Films, ‘Daag: A poem of Love’ ought to have the romantic icon Rajesh Khanna as the lead. With an ensemble cast comprising of Khanna, Rakhi and Sharmila Tagore, the film went on to become a huge success. Rajesh had successfully bowed the seed of romance in Yash Chopra’s debut film, the effect of which is still echoed in the latter’s later films. The film was made at the height of the Rajesh Khanna craze and became a super hit at the Box Office.
Aap Ki Kasam 1973
Made by filmmaker J Om Prakash ‘Aap Ki Kasam’ brought the crackling chemistry between Rajesh Khanna and Bollywood beauty Mumtaaz to the fore. Even now, the song ‘Karvate badalate rahen’ gushes out nostalgia of old age romance every time it is played. The film had a very emotional undertone which no other actor of the time could have justified other than Khanna.
Against the backdrop of realistic parallel cinema forged by filmmakers like Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalini in the 70’s, the undisputed king of masala potboiler Manmohan Desai came out with ‘Roti’ with Rajesh Khanna and delivered a blistering hit. The lead actor was paired with Mumtaaz again and almost all the songs of the film became runaway hits.
Cast with the Bollywood dream girl Hema Malini, Rajesh Khanna took the level of romance with ‘Mehbooba’ to a ‘supernatural’ level. The film which dealt with the concept of love and re-incarnation amazed audience of the time to no ends. Besides the gripping story, what mesmerized more to the people were the songs belted out by Kishore Kumar like ‘Mere Naina Sawan Bhadon’.
Amar Deep 1979
‘Amar Deep’ was a Bollywood romantic drama film directed by R. Krishnamurthy and K. Vijayan. The film starred Rajesh Khanna in the lead role supported by Shabana Azmi and Vinod Mehra. Rajesh Khanna again showcased his emotional side in the film with opulence and went on to win rave reviews of critics and audience alike.
After the staggering success of ‘Mehbooba’, Rajesh Khanna was again paired with Hema Malini with a similar re-incarnation theme in ‘Kudrat’. With some calling it ‘Mehbooba’ part 2, ‘Kudrat’ did wonders at the Box Office. The evergreen song ‘Hume Tumse Pyaar Kitna’ is from ‘Kudrat’.
Rajesh Khanna, by this time, had already proved his mettle as a romantic actor, and now he had started to dabble in tragic roles. And when it came to tragedy, he was next to only Dilip Kumar. Rajesh Khanna proved it with his acting in ‘Avtaar’. The film reeked of Khanna’s incredible portrayal of a pained individual, who even at the time of biggest adversity of his life was brass neck enough. The film was a commercial hit, and was critically acclaimed.
Agar Tum Na Hote 1983
The film probably took its name from the hit number from the film itself ‘Agar Tum Na Hote’. With an interesting story line, Rajesh Khanna was seen paired up with Rekha in this film. The film was a mass hit as it had all the ingredients of a typical pot boiler.
It’s said that the rise of David Dhawan owes to none other than Rajesh Khanna, for the latter extended a huge favour to the director for acting in one of his first productions ‘Swarg’. The king of comedy David thanked Rajesh Khanna profusely for being the part of the film. !