MUMBAI, July 18 – Bollywood’s original superstar Rajesh Khanna, who charmed his way into the hearts of millions of swooning female fans in the 1960s and 70s, died here today.
69-year-old Khanna, who shot to superstardom with the 1969 hit ‘Aradhana’ opposite Sharmila Tagore, passed away at his home, two days after being discharged from Lilawati hospital. He had been ailing since April.
Though a romantic hero, Khanna essayed a variety of roles with ease in his illustrious career spanning four decades. His portrayal as a cancer patient in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee-film ‘Anand’(1971) in which he got the better of Amitabh Bachchan left many teary eyed.
Nicknamed “Kaka” by his adoring fans, he is survived by estranged actress wife Dimple Kapadia and daughters Twinkle and Rinkie, all of whom were by his side when his end came.
Khanna’s family as also Lilawati Hospital authorities were tightlipped about the nature of the actor’s illness.
“We cannot tell you about the nature of Khanna’s illness....Please get in touch with his family,” a spokesman for Lilawati who identified himself only as Dr Trivedi told PTI.
According to sources close to the family, the cremation will take place tomorrow.
Vijay, a close friend of Khanna who had been interacting with the media since his illness, said, “Kaka’s food intake had gone down over the last few days making him very weak.”
The news of Khanna’s death this afternoon spread like wildfire and hundreds of teary-eyed fans descended at his bungalow ‘Ashirwad’ in Bandra.
“My father-in-law is no more. He has gone to a nice and heavenly place. I am happy that he has gone there and hope that everyone will pray for him,” his actor son-in-law Akshay Kumar told waiting reporters and fans outside ‘Ashirwad’.
Several Bollywood celebrities including actors Rishi Kapoor, Prem Chopra and filmmaker Sarid Khan visited Khanna’s home to pay homage to the actor.
The veteran actor, who lived a secluded life of late, recently appeared for a commercial, his face and eyes sunken. His real fans were shocked to see him a pale shadow of his former self.
During his illustrious career Khanna gave 15 consecutive solo superhits between 1969 and 1972 including “Aradhana”, “Haathi Mere Saathi”, “Anand” and “Amar Prem”. – PTI