Media Killed Rajesh Khanna – At Least Partly
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
but power without responsibility can kill people. and thats the kind of power media has always had. they can do anything, say anything, write anything, without substantiating, without proof, data, numbers, and without bothering about what effect it has on people’s lives. rajesh khanna made the most lethal mistake, he started believing media’s version about himself, both on career as well as on a personal front.
both the stories, of rajesh khanna’s ‘greatest possible super stardom’ , and his ‘biggest possible downfall’ that media propogated for years (till the 80s) and has dug into again for shoddy tributes, on TV, print and internet, were false to begin with.
there is no way you can call rajesh khanna India’s 1st superstar. even if you dont have much data about k l sehgal, there was always dilip kumar whose achievment are beyond compare. so rajesh khanna had a whirlwind that lasted 6 years (1969-1974) with 20 successes and 15 clean hits punctuated with just 3 flops?
well dilip kumar had a whirlwind that lasted 15 years (1947-1961) and had 30 successes and 25 clean hits with hardly any clear flops. (i cudnt find any on boxofficeindia.) here is the lsit.
jugnu, shaheed, mela, andaz, shabnam, aarzoo, sangdil, shikast, jogan, babul, daastaan,deedaar, aan, daagh, footpath, amar, insaaniyat, aazaad, udan khatola, devdas, naya daur, madhumati, musafir, yahudi, kohinoor, paighaam, mughal e aazam, kohinoor, ganga jamuna.
which just means that the entire charade of rajesh khanna as india’s 1st superstar was just that, a charade! all created by one journalist, the late devyani chaubal, close friend of rajesh khanna, with most of the media parroting her brief. sher created the rajesh khanna myth. like leaking an isolated story of a letter saying rajesh khanan, mumbai reaching his place as some sort regular occurrence. and nobody knows how many letters written with blood came to him. none were ever on a photographic display, ever. if you think the trend of rounding up 5 german junior artists by the PR for the benefit of Tv cameras on DON 2 premeire and try to prove shrukh khan is a rage in germany, is a recent trend, u have another think coming.
The only remarkable fact about rajesh khanna’s carreer was the density of hits. those 20 successes all came within 6 years. but just one factor doesnt make him the 1st or the biggest superstar. apart from dilip kumar who was clearly much bigger, both rajendra kumar and dev anand might have had similar records.
if only one, just one of the journalists in the 70s and 80s, a new recruit, a rookie reporter, a cub scribe, just one person had the much malighned ‘scientific’ approach, not making judgments on the basis of selective data, but overall statistics, the travesty would not have taken place.
because wat happened after that was tragic.
having created a a huge superstar, to complete its narrative, media had to destroy it. and to that end, they chose another superstar, kaka’s friend (initially) and projected rival, amitabh bachchan.
yes just as there was nothing ‘greatest’ about rajesh khanna’s superstardom, (if all the records were collated in bollywood the only one that would come in his name would be ‘maximum hits in shortest span of time’) there was nothing ‘biggest about his fall either. yes he did not have any successes (not even an average) for 4 years between 1975 – 1978, but so many stars and superstars have had such phases wher they did not have any hits for 5 or more years. just that in rajesh khanna’s case, this period co-incided with amitabh bachchan’s whirlwind period providing the media its fuel to create its dramatic narrative. “one star beats another star to the ground” type headlines u know!
from 1979 rajesh khanna started getting back on track and had an averagely successfull career. in 79 he had average amardeep, in 1980 he had the semi hit thodi si bewafai in 1981 he had fifty-fifty and from 1982 he started moving up in the ‘top ten’ (it used to be top ten in those days not top 5, as many more films were successful) with rajput. the same year he had two other successes dharam kanta and ashanti (multistarrers did any one say? as if bachchan movies were all solo) in 1983 he had two clean hits avtaar and souten along with average successes agar tum na hote and nishaan and in 1984 he had maqsad. thats a fairly ‘average’ career, not at all a disaster. in fact many stars like akshay kumar, ajay devgan and sunil shetty have had these kind of careers through the 90s and still considred in top 6. saif ali khan never had a better track record than this, not in any decade, not overall but he is not talked about that disparagingly. as i said it just suited the media at that stage to project rajesh khanna as the ‘biggest failure’ just as it suited them to project him as the ‘greatest superstar’ in the early 70s.
and again, just as i said, the biggest mistake rajesh khanna made was to start beliving in media’s version of himself. his personal problems, both emotional & interpersonal as well as health problems, might have stemmed from the false story of rise and fall of rajesh khanna. but may be on second thought, even i am falling pray to media’s ‘pop psychological trap’ and just finding a link between his ‘projected’ career graph and his divorce, alcoholism and ailments.
nevertheless its a fact that media told a false story for 2 decades and has been re-narrating them for the last two days. without any accountability.