They say that if there was ever a superstar in the Indian Film Industry, it had to be Rajesh Khanna. There may be romantic leading men and icons in Bollywood but there is and will be only one superstar for his ability to take cinematic love to legendary heights. Why couldn't anybody replace him? Why since four long decades 'Kakaji's' superstar status is still not passed on? Because he had the biggest and the maddest fan following, especially his female fans. They would write love letters to him soaked in blood. They would kiss his car and faint. They wouldn't marry anybody in their life for they dedicated their life to Rajesh Khanna.
His fashion and style statement was evident in all the colleges across India. Such was the impact of a man who, with the rigorous use of his voice to communicate a character's lines like 'Pushpa...I hate tears' and 'Babumushai...zindagi jo hain woh badi honi chahiye, lambi nahi' express emotions, which he achieved through attention to diction and commitment to his character. We met the real and the reel superstar who, with his trademark smile and pose, delivered those famous lines from his film Anand and in the ten minutes which we were given, spoke in length about his IIFA Lifetime Achievement Award, how the word 'Kakaji' was born, his superstar status, his film Anand which inspired the country, his first love and first super hit Aradhana, his one liner to describe Kishore Kumar and Bollywood's next superstar, his grandson Aarav.
Congratulations on your Lifetime Achievement Award you've received at this years IIFA Macau.
Thank you so much. But this is not my first Lifetime Achievement Award. I've already got a Filmfare Lifetime Achievement when the black lady turned into gold. Then I was presented one during the Stardust Awards too. IIFA is a different feeling all together. IIFA is a very prestigious award and is no less than an Oscar. IIFA is a heritage of participating to highlight the culture of India to the various countries of the world. This is also the first time I'm attending all the three days of the IIFA Weekend and I'm really looking forward to it.
The entire world knows you as 'Kakaji'. Please tell us how the word 'Kaka' became so synonymous with Rajesh Khanna?
That's interesting. 'Kaka' in Punjabi means a small little baby. When I came into films, I was called 'Kaka' because I was young and small and with a bit of respect they added 'Ji'. That's how the world famous 'Kakaji' was born.
Women kissing your car, women writing love letters to you in blood, your style of dressing and talking. Everything you did was tagged as superstar.
No matter who they are. Whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian or any other community, I will always be grateful to my audience. In the corner of their heart, all of them have given me a small little space, stored and bestowed me with their love and affection. I would also like to thank my co-stars who've made me become an actor, then a star and then a superstar. Being a superstar isn't an individual achievement but it's the almighty above there who thinks he likes me. All departments of our film industry made me an actor to a star to a superstar.
When people are on the verge of a near collapse and some who don't have much time to spend with their loved ones, all advice to watch Rajesh Khanna's Anand.
How did you come to know this? You're right. Even today, people advice to watch Anand simply because it was a path breaking film which had a path breaking dialogue, "Hum toh is rang manch ki katputliya hain aur hum sab ki dor upar wale ke haath mein hain. Kaun kya kab yeh koi nahin jaanta. Isliye babumushai...hey babumushai, zindagi jo hain woh badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin honi chahiye. Itna pyaar zyaada accha nahin hain". People cried a lot during this final scene of the film because somewhere it touched their sentiments. Anand also gave them an inspiration and a reason to live.
Let's talk about your first big super hit Aradhana.
Aradhana was the first stepping stone towards my success. After that film, I never had to look back. For that, my tribute goes to my favourite Late Mr. Shakti Samant. I've worked with him in lots of films. He gave me lot of encouragement, lot of affection and never made me feel that Aradhana was my first super hit. Not many know but I was working with yet another superstar heroine Sharmila Tagore in Aradhana. At that time she was more famous than I was and did not give me the complex that I was a newcomer. She is one of the most beautiful and sophisticated ladies I've ever seen. Aradhana will always be my first love.
They say that you were the one who gave Kishore Kumar his second innings with Aradhana.
I will just sum this up in one sentence. I told Shakti Samant that Kishore Kumar was my soul and I was his body.
How is the relationship you share with your son-in-law Akshay Kumar? Can you recall those moments of sweet gestures between you two, the fatherly advice, etc?
I told Akshay that he works in nice films. My advice to him was that he should dance, he should entertain, he should do good action but overall I did tell him to work in films that have a purpose and stop working in films like the Khiladi series. Other than that, Akshay is doing a fine job.
You proud of your family tree?
Of course yes. I am very proud of this family because of the family tree. It's coming down from Rajesh Khanna to Dimple Kapadia. From Dimple to Twinkle Khanna to Rinke, it moves to my son-in-law Akshay Kumar and to my grandson Aarav. I'm, saying this in public today that after Rajesh Khanna the superstar, the next in line will be Aarav, and I'm not saying this because he is the son of Akshay Kumar but because he will carry the talent, the dedication and the sacrifice which everyone of us has carried in our family. Aarav will be Indian Film Industry's next super star.