Re­mem­ber­ing Ra­jesh Khanna: Haasan shares some tales

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Front Page - Sub­hash K Jha htc­ity@hin­dus­tan­ ■

He was the first su­per­star of In­dian cin­ema and the only ac­tor in Bol­ly­wood to have tasted su­per-star­dom. On Ra­jesh Khanna’s 74th birth an­niver­sary, Tamil star Ka­mal Haasan, who shared an in­cred­i­ble bond with Khanna, fondly shares tales of the time spent to­gether. “I re­fused to call him Kaka like ev­ery­one did. I was will­ing to call him Bade Bhaiyya or Mr Khanna. But not Kaka.That in­fu­ri­ated him... He was the undis­puted king of Hindi cin­ema,” re­calls Haasan.

Since Khanna starred in re­makes of South In­dian films, he was of­ten in Chen­nai. That’s how their friend­ship started. “We spent time talk­ing about cin­ema and life. He’d some­times get philo­soph­i­cal about the in­con­se­quen­tial­ity of life. Once we went to watch a film to­gether, a medi­ocre Amer­i­can film called The Swarm. I took him to a the­atre in the heart of Chen­nai. He didn’t know we were go­ing to a pub­lic screen­ing. He prob­a­bly hadn’t been to one since be­com­ing a star. He en­joyed the film, but re­fused to leave till the end ti­tles. I pan­icked. If au­di­ences saw him, there’d be a stam­pede and blood on my hands. But Mr Khanna did not lis­ten. All hell broke loose and I be­came his body­guard. His shirt was torn. But he gig­gled and chuck­led like a child.” Khanna’s wife, ac­tor Dim­ple Ka­pa­dia gave Haasan (her co-star in Sa­gar; 1985) a piece of her mind. “She wanted to know what was I think­ing. Any­thing could’ve hap­pened.”

Haasan shares an­other in­ci­dent, when one of his films, Si­gappu Ro­j­jakal, was re­made as Red Rose, star­ring Khanna. “The phone rang in my of­fice. This was the era of land­line phones. Mr Khanna’s film’s mahu­rat was the next day, and he wanted the cap I wore for my char­ac­ter. He also com­manded me to be present there. He wanted to in­tro­duce me as ‘the up­com­ing star from the South’. The cap was sent from Chen­nai to Mum­bai by hand de­liv­ery but the man on the job de­cided he didn’t want to part with the pre­cious cap. Mr Khanna was livid: ‘Since you were com­ing why couldn’t you just bring it with you?’”

Haasan was fas­ci­nated by Khanna’s aura. “I never wanted to be a star. I ob­served him. Our friend­ship came to a sorry end at a party in his house where he was less than po­lite. But my friend­ship with Dim­ple is for­ever. It’s like the lines from the im­mor­tal Geeta Dutt song, Be­qaraar Dil Iss Tarah Mi­ley Jiss Tarah Kabhi Hum Juda Na They. I know we’ll re­main friends for as long as we’re alive. My daugh­ter (ac­tor) Shruti (Haasan) will make sure of that. She’s more fond of Dim­ple than I am.”

I was will­ing to call him Bade Bhaiyya or Mr Khanna. But not Kaka. That in­fu­ri­ated him KA­MAL HAASAN, AC­TOR


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