‘India’s first superstar’, ‘Kaka’, ‘Anand’ – these were some of the most heard and seen titles and references made on news channels for most part of July 18, 2012. The day marked the demise of yesteryear Bollywood actor Rajesh Khanna.
The news broke at around 2 pm and soon after, not just news channels but also Hindi music and movie channels lined up the highs and lows of Rajesh Khanna’s life, the best of his movies and songs, and a programming line-up that discussed Khanna’s unbroken record of 15 consecutive successful movies from 1969 to 1972, the fame and its consequences, the affairs and relationships, a political career and everything that eventually mourned the death and celebrated the life of India’s first superstar.
Some web portals worked on a similar content offer in a bid to inform people more about the loss of what was touted to be a great life. Some others analysed the coverage.
Bottom line however was that everyone had a comment, a view and thoughts of their own.
Khanna was very recently in news in context to the advertising film done for Havells Fans, where the film punned on the word ‘fans’. Lowe Lintas is the agency and R Balki was directly involved in the film. For Havells Fans, the message may have been communicated but the film received flak from Khanna’s fans, industry observers and people who knew the actor. The film has ended up being Khanna’s last on-screen act. Incidentally, this was also his first TV commercial ever.
While Khanna was not associated with the advertising world much, in the 80s, at the time of the release of his film ‘Red Rose’, he was seen in the print ad of Fabian Suitings.
Just about every general news channel paid tribute to Rajesh Khanna through content package including chat shows seeking comments from people who worked with Khanna, had observed and studied Indian cinema and the likes. Minister of Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni was quoted in various sections of the press on, “Rajesh Khanna was a living force and leaves behind a long and rich legacy. Language was no barrier and his films were seen all over the country.”
Times Now quoted Soni on, “The superstar gave Indian cinema a whiff of fresh air by projecting the essence of goodness and romance in the various characters that he portrayed. Very few actors can match the charisma, stardom and popularity that Rajesh Khanna enjoyed. His era initiated the wave of superstardom in the Indian film industry, a concept which was unknown till then. The Indian film industry has lost one of its iconic personalities who gave a new identity to the male protagonist in Hindi films.”
From Arnab Goswami on Times Now and Rajdeep Sardesai on CNN IBN to the likes of Bloomberg UTV and Headlines Today, news channels explored all angles of being Rajesh Khanna. Headlines Today aired journalist Jack Pizzey anchored BBC’s 1973 documentary film – Bombay Superstar. This was BBC’s first documentary on Bollywood and the subject was Rajesh Khanna. According to Headlines Today, “The BBC documentary made him world famous”.
Channels such as News Express, India TV, NDTV India, Zee Business, DD News, Aaj Tak, News24 and regional channels such as Zee 24 Taaz and ABP Majha also dedicated most part of the evening to Rajesh Khanna.
By evening Max, played three Rajesh Khanna movies back to back. Mastii, Zoom, Music India and B4U Music were the other channels that dedicated their programming to the ‘Superstar’.
He was also covered extensively in Pakistani media. Pakistan government also made comments to members of Indian press.
Mourning on Twitter
Tributes also poured on social media platform, Twitter, where fans recalled the best of Khanna. By around midnight, on July 18, five trending topics were around Khanna’s demise. ‘RIP Rajesh Khanna’ was the top most trending topic. On number five, six and seven the trending topics were ‘RIP Kaka’ (as he is popularly known), ‘Babu Moshai’ (reference from his super hit flick Anand) and Amar Prem (another super hit movie). Trending on number nine was ‘Anand’, another reference made to Khanna and the character portrayed in the movie.
The other topics trending on the day were #NDArocks, #LeakedDMs, #GoalsIWillAlwaysRemember, Nelson Mandela and IMAX.
Mahindra & Mahindra’s Anand Mahindra tweeted, “Another week and another media icon passes on. We don’t understand how much they shape our consciousness until they leave it.”
SET India’s Sneha Rajani wrote, “The first ever actor I idolised. The film I saw the most no. of times (30) in a theatre ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’. You will live on. RIP Rajesh Khanna”
Remarked LG India’s LK Gupta, “Hum sab rangmanch ki kathputliyan hain jinki dor upar waale ke haath mein hai. RIP Rajesh Khanna”
Moneylife’s Sucheta Dalal inscribed, “Babu Moshai, Zindagi Badi Honi Chahiye, Lambi Nahin” ~ Anand. (Rajesh Khanna to Amitabh Bachchan in 1971 film ‘Anand’)
A2DC’s Madan Sanglikar tweeted, “RIP kaka .... Pushpa I hate tears...”
Everest Brand Solution’s Rahul Jauhari wrote, “RIP Rajesh Khanna. End of an era.”
Counselage India’s Suhel Seth remarked, “The man who made me laugh, made me cry and made me sing is now off to God...he too needs to be happy! RIP Rajesh Khanna...”
Euro RSCG’s Satbir Singh wrote, “Babu moshai was made famous by how Rajesh Khanna said it in that movie. Ki firk painda hai if people use for him and not AB. #ChillKaro”
Leo Burnett India’s KV Sridhar tweeted, “Rajesh Khanna. Anand aka Kaka lives forever in the hearts of billions for eternity. #RajeshKhanna”
Anchor Harsha Bhogle wrote, “Cried a bit in Anand and Haathi mere Saathi and quietly said ‘babumoshai’ to no one in particular.”
In the BBC documentary, Bombay Superstar, Rajesh Khanna’s long time co-star Mumtaz was quoted on, “You have a short life in our world. One day you are a star and everyone loves you. And then you wake up one morning to see you are nowhere.” Irrespective of all said and written about Rajesh Khanna, in his death, he was described as India’s first ever heartthrob and a raging sensation.
(The 10 tweets mentioned above have been edited to correct typos only)