Today (July 18) loyal fans would be observing superstar Rajesh (‘Kakaji’) Khanna’s fourth death anniversary. Disheartening news for the charismatic Khanna’s fans is that, his landmark sea-facing bungalow, Aashirwad ( later renamed ‘Vardaan’) on Carter Road has already been demolished by its new owner business baron Shashi Kiran Shetty to make way for a new residential structure. This senior correspondent personally knew and nterviewed Khanna dozens of times, during the post-1983 era, when the actor had shed his ‘romantic mantle’ and acted in movies like ‘Avataar’.
Although he had now stepped into elderly screen-characters, Kakaji would fiercely retain his superstar ‘aura’ in his conduct and behavior and expect people to treat him accordingly. Known for arriving fashionably ‘late’ at shootings and parties, he would justify. “Der sey aana nahin chahta hoon. Lekin kya karun der ho jaati hai, rey”, he would react with his patented head-slant and crinkling of his eyes, which during his heyday had legions of girls swooning over his ‘adaayen’.
By nature, Jatin (his real name) was very sensitive, but had a nasty short-temper, which this correspondent often witnessed when he would lambast people who dared to argue with him. On the flip side, Kakaji was highly ‘possessive’ when he really cared for someone. There were times, when he would go out of his way, to drop me home in his chauffeur-driven car from film-parties, even well past midnight. ‘Tumhari ‘home-delivery’ toh humne kar di rey,’ he would quip jestfully and part humming his song refrain ‘achha toh hum chalte hain’.