Thursday, July 19, 2012

The real tragedy of Rajesh Khanna.

Now that Kaka has made his exit from the worldly stage on the new moon day notorious for immoderately excessive imbibing and landing in the gutter at the end of the unbridled liquid orgy (“gatari amvasya”), it is time to ponder his real tragedy. After Devyani Chaubal, Bollywood’s own Hedda Hopper, rechristened RK “Superstar” in her Star & Style column “Frankly Speaking” and a wee bit later Stardust dubbed him “The Phenomenon”, his thirst for attention must have reached unquenchable depths especially because his “hit” count was dipping fast. This longing may have been further augmented also because he was by nature a loner, guarded – his reticence often bordering on total silence − in his social interactions and intensely insecure. Jack Pizzey, who made some of the episodes of BBC’s Man Alive, described RK on the sets of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Namak Haraam (1973) saying that he was someone with the “charisma of Rudolph Valentino, the arrogance of Napoleon, and he’s late.” His oft-quoted dialogue from Safar (1970) was: “Mein marne se pehle marna nahi chahta.” (“I don’t wish to be dead before dying.”) Unfortunately, at the end of his heyday, Kaka must have died a million deaths in his mind and finally resigned himself to an ongoing spell of mourning till his final exit for his loss of superstardom. Come to think of it, the real tragedy of Rajesh Khanna was not being here on earth to relish the eulogies from the media hyenas as well as his hypocritical Bollywoodian peers after his departure. He missed the grand hurrah. He did.