A Song for Rajesh Khanna
Rajesh Khanna, known as the first Bollywood superstar, died today, only a few months short of his 70th birthday.
He appeared in 163 feature films during his career.
And guess what?
He played the lead in 128 of them.
And along the way, he achieved many things (accolades, 15 consecutive solo superhits, a political career) But most of all, he drove India's rather large female population absolutely crazy with love.
"Women came out in droves to see him," said co-star Sharmila Tagore in an interview with Indian Express, "He needed protection in public. I have never seen anything like it."
India's Got Talent
You know how we know Cher Lloyd and Alexandra Burke from the X Factor? Even back in the day, winning contests like that could launch a star's career. Rajesh Khanna leapt onto the scene when he won the 1965 edition of the All India Talent Contest. Pretty soon after that, he was signed for his first film and he never looked back.
One of Rajesh's best known films is "Aradhana" (1969). The Hindi film was a re-make of the Hollywood film "To Each His Own."
The film opens with Rajesh, dressed dashingly as an airforce officer, crooning his love to the resistant Sharmila Tagore, the Indian starlet in the film.
Take "Aradhana," for example. Rajesh's co-star Sharmila, who won her first Filmfare Best Actress Award (think the Bollywood Oscars) for her performance, wore fantastic make-up of the era.
Her slight scorn for Rajesh's character was evident when she arched her perfectly sculpted eye-brow. Indeed, her eyes are the center piece of her look: she wears imposing cat-eye eye-liner drawn out in Cleopatra-style flicks. Both her upper and lower lashlines were darkened with kohl and a volumising mascara built up her lashes. The final touch was a light shade of brown eyeshadow applied almost up to her eyebrow.
After emphasising her eye make-up, Sharmila chose a light blusher to bring out her cheeks and a pink lipstick to highlight her lips. Her traditional red bindi mark in the centre of her forehead is a jewel all to itself.
Sharmila's raven-black hair is also ornately styled. She bumped her hair into a slight quiff and then let her side braid drape across her shoulder next to her chandelier gold earrings. The final romantic touch? A flower behind her ear.
Ode to Rajesh
The on-screen chemistry between Sharmila and Rajesh had viewers glued to their screens.
Their performances launched the international taste for Bollywood. Timeless performances like that are not easily forgotten.
Rajesh will keep India dancing for many years to come.