It does not matter if Rajesh Khanna was not seen on the screen or did not make any public appearances. Only the sheer thought of he being alive and breathing in the same world along with us, used to give us the requisite nostalgic hysteria. With the departure of Kaka, followed with the previous exits of Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor and Joy Mukherjee-all just a year back- the last cord between the present generation and the 60s and 70s Indian Cinema is cut.
Yes, in his acting, he was melodramatic more than occasionally. And this progressively went on growing with his age. The charm of melodrama which Anand and Amar Prem gave us, and still give, became a parody by the time Wafaa (2008)- his last released movie- occurred.
But, still, Kaka was there. The first man to show us what mass hysteria means, was there. And now, with he gone, I don’t know, professionally how much present Indian cinema has lost, but the common people have lost Nostalgia forever. Here was a man, whenever coming in front of the public, who could take you to 40 years back in time instantly.
And as I have been listening to the FM Radio stations tirelessly playing the songs of late 60s and early 70s of Kaka, sung mainly by his “voice” Kishore Kumar, penned by Anand Bakshi and composed by R D Burman and Laxmikant Pyarelal, the mind goes wayward.
He had great looks. A Cinematic presence, which no one could or can replicate. The way he held the glass in Amar Prem (Chingari koi bhadke) or the way he nodded his head on an open jeep in Aradhana (Mere sapno ki rani) are history now. Who bothers what he delivered post-1975. It is more than sufficient to spend your lifetime with the two dozen great films Kaka delivered between Khamoshi (1969) to Daag (1973).
A lady charmer, Kaka epitomized romance on screen. With great couplings formed with Mumtaz and Sharmila Tagore, Kaka could be light, playboy some times and intense and emotional some other time with equal ease. With Sharmila, he gave some intense and emotionally serious movies like Safar, Amar Prem, Aavishkar, Daag and Aradhana; while with Mumtaz he delivered juvenile and light hearted romance in Do Raaste, Dushman, Sacha Jhootha and Apna Desh. And there was also Anand, where he did not have any heroine, and gave a lifetime performance.
And Kaka got some of the best philosophical songs ever composed in Hindi Cinema. In spite of not being into the intellectual cinema like Guru Dutt, Kaka got mesmerizing philosophical songs picturized on him like Zindagi ka safar (Kishore Kumar, Safar), Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hai(Kishore Kumar, Aap ki Kasam), Zindagi kaisi hai paheli(Manna De, Anand), Kuchh to log kahenge(Kishore Kumar,AmarPrem) and Diye jalte hai phool khilte hai(Kishore Kumar, Namak Haram). After Kaka, Hindi cinema forgot to make philosophical songs for good. Because, perhaps, after Kaka, every time a philosophical song came on screen, it sounded like preaching. And Rajesh Khanna- with twinkling of his eyes and nodding of his head-could convey heavy messages with élan. Even a lyrically philosophical song Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana became a rage the way Kaka enacted it on the screen and of course, the way his “voice” crooned it.
With Rajesh Khanna, we have lost many more. No matter how much the girls today adore Hrithik Roshan or Salman Khan, it takes a lot of passion to write love letters to your hero with your own blood. Yes, the melodrama he showed on screen, actually hit the nerves of the people in real life also. Who could do such hysteria in our Cinema ever?
Rest in peace, Kaka.