Amitabh wrote that a close functionary told him Rajesh’s last words in a choked voice Wednesday when he gone to condole the death of India’s first superstar at his home Ashirwad.
Amitabh recalled his long experience with Rajesh whom he first saw as the winner of the Filmfare-Madhuri Talent Contest. It was the same contest for which Amitabh also applied the following year but was rejected.
“His film ‘Aradhana’ was my next meeting with him, at the Rivoli Theatre in Connaught Place in New Delhi, which my mother took me along to see. The packed audience and their reactions to this young handsome man were impermeable,” wrote Amitabh.
He said he had left his settled job in Calcutta and gone away from home to seek the possibilities of joining the (film) industry in some other way.
“But one look at Rajesh Khanna made me realise that with people like him around, there would be little chance of opportunity for me, in this new profession!” Amitabh confessed.
Later, when Amitabh was called for ‘Saat Hindustani’ and travelled to Mumbai for the role, he developed a close friendship with one of the co-stars in the movie, Anwar Ali.
Anwal Ali’s brother was the illustrious (comedian) Mehmood with his own very large standing and gave Amitabh an opportunity to get an informal meet at one of the shootings of Rajesh Khanna. “…It was a very formal hand shake and that was it; a routine for him, an honour for me!”
Amitabh said Rajesh Khanna was simple and quiet, would sit in the front seat of his modest Herald, driven by his Man Friday, Kabir.
“He would attract many visitors on set and was continuously surrounded by them, Hrishi-da permitting! The frenzy and the following he garnered was a sight to behold. In the 1970 era his fans came from Spain to meet him and a most unheard of occurrence then,” Amitabh said.
In his trademark Rajesh Khanna kurta-pyjama, he almost always looked the boy next door, one that girls would want to take home to mother, but amidst all this there was a quiet elegance within him, Amitabh added.
“In his boyish plainness there was something that was regal in his demeanor. It was the magnet that attracted others to him – who at times were almost servile to him in nature,” Amitabh said.