From the dizzying heights of fame to quiet shadows behind the arclights, Rajesh Khanna's life had a theatrical sweep, almost like one of his films. Bollywood's original superstar - simply the phenomenon to some - died in Mumbai Wednesday, leaving behind memories cast in celluloid of that famous crooked smile and head tilt. He was only 69
Jatin Khanna, in the begining of his career, was referred to as "faaltu hero" because of his facial features, his eyes in particular, which were not liked by the aesthetes of the time. His flop debut, 'Aakhri Khat' (1966), seemed to prove that he was indeed not made for the screen. Cineastes and movie buffs were getting ready to write him off when, in 1969, a storm hit Bombay and proceeded to annihilate and redefine all established norms of superstardom: Cyclone Rajesh Khanna had arrived!
In the three years that followed, till the advent of the super storm by the name Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna reigned over the Indian screen like a god and seemed to be perfectly invincible.
Here is a pictorial telling of the Rajesh Khanna tale.