Emergence: 29 December 1942
Demise: 18 July 2012
Rajesh Khanna (popularly known as kaka) was an Indian actor, film producer and politician who is best known for his work in the Hindi cinema. He is referred to as the “First Superstar” of Indian cinema. He starred in 15 consecutive solo hit films from 1969 to 1971, a record unbroken.
He did 106 solo hero films of which 97 were released between 1967 and 2013. He acted in only 22 films with multi-star cast. 82 of the 127 films with Rajesh Khanna as the lead protagonist (of them 117 released and 11 unreleased) were critically acclaimed films with ratings above 4 stars out of 5 by film reviewers of various newspapers of that time unanimously.
He made his debut in 1966 with Aakhri Khat which was also India’s first official Oscar Entry in 1967. During his career he appeared in more than 168 feature films and 12 short films. He received the Filmfare Best Actor Award three times and the BFJA Awards for Best Actor (Hindi) four times. In 1991, he was awarded the Filmfare Special Award for completing 26 years in the Hindi cinema and in 2005, he was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award on the 50th Anniversary of the Filmfare Awards. He was the highest paid Indian actor from 1970 to 1987 whereas Amitabh Bachchan shared the same tag with Rajesh Khanna from 1980 to 1987.
He was a Member of Parliament in the 10th Lok Sabha from New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency between 1992 and 1996, elected in the 1992 New Delhi by-election as an Indian National Congress candidate.
He was married to Dimple Kapadia in March 1973, eight months before her debut film Bobby was released and had two daughters from the marriage. Their elder daughter Twinkle Khanna is an actress and a best selling author who is married to actor Akshay Kumar, while they also have a younger daughter Rinke Khanna.
Khanna died on 18 July 2012, after a period of illness. He has been posthumously awarded India’s third highest civilian honour, Padma Bhushan. He has also been honoured with a stamp and statue in his likeness, and a road renamed after him by the Prime Minister of India. In 2014, his biography Rajesh Khanna – The untold story of India’s first Superstar by Yasser Usman was published by Penguin Books. In 2018, a one kilometre fitness trail in Lajpat Nagar National Park was named after Khanna, which was inaugurated by his wife Dimple Kapadia.