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Rajesh Khanna, India's first superstar, dies age 69

Bollywood's original superstar, Rajesh Khanna, died in Mumbai today at the age of 69.

Bollywood actor Rajesh Khanna in 2012. AFP
Bollywood actor Rajesh Khanna in 2012. AFP

Bollywood's original superstar, Rajesh Khanna, died in Mumbai today at the age of 69. Kaka, as he was popularly known, was one of the highest paid actors of his time and his record of consecutive solo super hits is still unbroken.

The most famous era of his life was between 1970 to 1979 when he starred in movies like Safar, Kati Patang, Sachaa Jhutha, Aan Milo Sajna, Anand, Amar Prem and Mere Jeevan Saathi.

During the 1970s, Khanna sparked hysteria, particularly among his legions of women fans, who would line the road for a glimpse, chant his name, cover his car with lipstick marks and even write him letters in blood.

Fame came his way with two 1969 films - Aradhana and Do Raaste - where he teamed up with Sharmila Tagore and Mumtaz. Both the films were blockbusters and Hindi film's first superstar was born.

Describing his own climb to fame, Amitabh Bachchan once said, “I got famous purely because I was working with Rajesh Khanna in Anand. People asked me questions like, 'How is he to look at? What does he do?'"

Born Jatin Arora on December 29, 1942, Khanna was adopted and raised by foster parents. In 1965, he won the All India Talent Contest and then made his debut with the film Aakhri Khat in 1966.

In his four-decade career, Khanna appeared in about 160 films, of which 106 had him as the solo lead hero and 22 were duo-hero projects.

Khanna also dabbled in politics and was the Congress MP from the New Delhi constituency from 1991 to 1996. Khanna had two daughters, Twinkle and Rinke, with his wife Dimple Kapadia who he married in 1973. The marriage, which only lasted 11 years, caused a tabloid sensation as Kapadia was 15 years his junior.

The family came together in his last days, with his estranged wife taking care of him during his illness.

* IANS