Rajesh Khanna's Bengali Connection

Rajesh Khanna's Bengali Connection

Although Rajesh Khanna never acted in a Bengali film, a number of the first superstar's memorable films, dialogues and songs had a 'Bong connection'.

"He never acted in a Bengali film. But right from the late 1960s to the seventies he was the top star and he worked with the top directors of his era, most of whom were Bengalis," film historian S M M Ausaja told PTI here.

In Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 1971 film Anand, Khanna delivered some of Indian cinema's memorable dialogues.

The use of the word 'babu moshai' for Amitabh Bachchan, who played a Bengali doctor Bhaskar Banerjee in the film, is so deeply etched in the minds of Indians that it has almost become a synonym for Bengalis for the rest of the countrymen.

"In a dhoti and kurta, you showed the rest of India how truly elegant Bengal was. Without you the screen will be robbed of much of its silver," said National Award winning director Rituparno Ghosh.

The 1969 Hindi film Aradhana which was Khanna's first superhit film had a strong Bengal connection.

It was directed by the Bengal-born Shakti Samanta with Bengali actress Sharmila Tagore starring opposite him, while the hit song 'Roop Tera Mastana', was sung by Kishore Kumar.

He kept on repeating his onscreen chemistry with not only Sharmila, Samanta and Kishore, but also soon built up successful alliances with stalwarts like Hrishikesh Mukherjee and R D Burman. 

Even in his personal life, Khanna was known to be friends with the 'king of playback singing' Kishore Kumar and musician R D Burman as the trio went on to work together in about thirty films.

Kumar once credited Khanna for his resurgence and even sang for free in Alag Alag, the first film produced by the superstar.

With Sharmila, he repeated their timeless magic in films like Safar, Avishkaar and Amar Prem.

Khanna acted in the Hindi remakes of some Bengali films like Anurodh (Deya Neya) and Khamoshi (Deep Jwele Jaai).

His classic film Bawarchi was inspired by Tapan Sinha's Bengali film Galpa Holeo Satyi (1966).

The first actress opposite him was a Bengali, Indrani Mukherjee, his debut film Aakhri Khat (Last Letter) in 1966.

Such was his popularity in Kolkata that during the shooting of Amar Prem, the producers had to create a replica of the Howrah Bridge in a studio as filming on it would have been impossible because of his fan following.

With four trophies, he holds the record for winning the maximum number of best actor awards from the Bengal Film Journalist Association and also the most number of nominations.

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