HAPPY BIRTHDAY KAKAJI
There is a saying that legends never die and so is the Super Star of the century Rajesh Khanna alias Kaka who’s always immortal. I feel highly privileged and honoured to be in his close proximity from 1992 till his journey to the eternal home.
Being a die hard fan of Rajesh Khanna since my childhood days, I always dreamt of meeting him once in my life time and surprisingly the day came in 1992 when destiny brought me in Kakaji’s close proximity beyond my imagination and expectation as his media advisor for a pretty long time.
My first meeting with Kaka in Hotel Ashok, New Delhi in 1992 was indeed a historic one which lasted for an hour or so in the presence of the veteran journalist, former BCCI chief and union minister Rajiv Shukla and Kaka’s friend and assistance from Mumbai Stevan Fernadiz in which (meeting) after being impressed by me, he literally offered me to help him in his parliamentary election coordinating his media and other political affairs.
Since then till his being the member of parliament from New Delhi and thereafter too, my association with him continued. Those were really the hectic days dealing with media persons, fixing Kaka’s one to one interviews with the indeginous and international press, print and television media, preparing daily hand outs of his meetings and padyatras, arranging press conferences at times and even giving him political tips for speeches.Though there are hundreds of such rememberences with him but am sharing one about his attitude to oblige mediamen at odd hours. When Kaka filed his nomination for the second time while contesting against Shatrughan Sinha, a bollywood star, I was standing downstairs in Vasant Kunj where he stayed for some time in a Druplex flat. We had come back from some political engagements and Kaka went upstairs to his flat and I was trying to manage reaching my home at such an odd hour. There was quite a commotion in the locality with police security and few of his fans still there.
It was 2 O clock midnight and Dimple, twinkle and Rinki had also come back from Mumbai. In the meanwhile a young journalist who was then with Statesmen newspaper came there, perhaps on my call searching for Kaka to interview him. For Sanjay Kaw, now with Asian Age, taking Kaka’s interview was quite an adventure. I was shocked to see this inspiring journalist so desperate to talk to Kaka and had even asked his boss to delay the printing of the first page of statesmen till he brings Kaka’s interview. I reluctantly went upstairs and talked to Kaka thinking, he would refuse but after my convincing him that the interview will appear next day on the front page, he agreed and gave the interview at 2.30 AM to the young, handsome jurno which did appeared on the front page of statesmen, making Kaka happy.
Just imagine a super star agreeing for an interview at 2.15 AM while in drinking session just to oblige me is a big thing never expected from Kaka the most sought after actor of his time.
Kaka was very fond of English press and therefore it was really difficult to manage them. However, I did proved successful after I made Kakaji prepared to meet them in person whenever situation warranted giving up his super star ego and thus keeping the journalist friends in good humour to which he readily agreed.
Those were really the fantastic days as hundreds of his New Delhi contitiency electorates, leaders of the Congress party, film personalities, senior police officers, media men and his arden fans including MPs, bureaucrats and theatre personalities etc used to throng his office cum residence at 81 Lodhi Estate, New Delhi once the residence of late HN Bahuguna, union minister and former UP CM. After Kaka’s tenure it was housed by the high profile BJP leader and the then union minister Pramod Mahajan.
Very few people know that after taking the charge of the spacious Bungalow 81 Lodhi Estate, Kaka got it fully renovated spending lacs of Rupees to suit his personal liking and choice. He brought a huge Lord Ganesh’s idol from Mumbai and got it installed at the inner entry of the Bangalow facing the main entrance gate giving a front face view of Ganeshji to the visitors.
I used to accompany Kaka in his padyatras, public meetings, at functions where Kaka used to be the chief guest and even participate in his evening sittings, sometimes individually while sometimes with his friends. I had lunches, dinner, drinking sessions with Kakaji on many occasions. Kaka was very forthright in refusing programmes when he was not in the comfortable mood.
He once, while not an MP came to Delhi especially on my request to inaugurate the Garhwali film titled Satmanglya in Pyarelal Bhawan and despite the film being in regional dialect beyond his understanding reach, gave enough of his time. I was very fortunate to be Kaka’s most preferred man. He considered me his younger brother and trusted too much on my capabiliy and capacity to assist him intellectually.
He used to feel comfortable in my company, especially when he was member of parliament. Few people will believe that after becoming MP he even used to come to my RK Puram House to pick me while going to Parliament. People of the locality used to gather to have the super star’s glimpse. He was very fond of hill people and had immense affection for them. Kaka was in Mussourie for a month or so when he acted in “Ghar Ka Chirag” movie in eighties as most of the shooting took place in Mussourie. During those days he came in contact with lot of Garhwalies and became fond of them. Kaka loved Garhwali and Kumaoni folk songs and culture and had special soft corner for the serene beauty and people of this Himalayan state.He especially respected, adored and liked the beauties of Uttarakhand.
Kakaji was though a very high profile superstar having acted in more then 225 films having given 15 to 25 super duper hit movies in a row during the seventies and eighties, he was a great human being and a friend of friends too. He always believed in helping the poor, needy and the deserving.
I have infinite memories of the days of my association with Kakaji but time and space have restraints. Tommorrow i.e. 29th December is the birthday of this super star. I wish him all the very best by saying that Rajesh Khanna never dies. He is a legend always living in the hearts and minds of his billions of fans and well wishers arond the globe. Good bye Kakaji. Love you always.
SUNIL NEGI, FORMER MEDIA ADVISOR TO RAJESH KHANNA