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Kaka

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

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Rajesh Khanna, Congress leader being weigh against coins during election campaign-. Express photo *** Local Caption *** Rajesh Khanna, Congress leader being weigh against coins during election campaign-. Express photo
I was Kaka’s Media advisor from 1991  till he was in Delhi as a member of parliament and managed his total election during 1991 and there after from the media management point of view and also politically, to an extent, when he contested for the second and third time to finally lose at the hands of the then Union Minister Housing and former Lt. governor of Delhi Jagmohan. There are the number of memories still fresh in my mind when Kaka was rubbing the streets of New Delhi Parliamentary constituency on foot under the scorching sun of 43 degrees Celsius temperature, fully perspiring, while contesting. He was then just a commoner like any common man, easily accessible n to be seen conveniently but always surrounded by huge crowds. The one time Super Star of Bollywood could be usually seen waving at his electorates standing on the balconies of their houses, verandas and on roof tops. His every padayatra or Jeep Yatra enticed hundreds of his fans n followers rushing towards him to have his glance or if possible shake hands with their one-time glamorous super star.
 
The women, girls and the youths thronged in large numbers in his every padayatra n public meetings. New Delhi parliamentary constituency therefore in 1991 n thereafter, when he contested for the second time against BJP’s star candidate Shatrughan Sinha had become a star constituency with two Bollywood stars fighting against each other, trading charges n counter charges. However, Rajesh Khanna won from here defeating Shatru but the election will remain fresh in everybody’s mind, I believe. Kaka while contesting his first election against Advani operated from 15 Canning Lane, and second from the Haryana’s former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s Bungalow, 11, Teen Murti, adjacent to the house of Ahmed Patel, Sonia Gandhi’s Secretary. Bhupinder Hooda was then the MP from Haryana. He thereafter shifted to North Avenue and then to Maharashtra MP Bhonsle’s residence at Lodhi Estate. His last Bungalow, 81 Lodhi Estate which was finally allotted to him was the main centre of his political activities as an elected MP. The entire media print n electronic, particularly the foreign electronic media always trailed KAKA who remained in the media on daily basis on the front and third pages of national dailies.
 
The role of the star wives viz Poonam Sinha n Dimple Kapadia Khanna in extensive campaigning for their respective star husbands is also worth mentioning. Kaka’s daughter n actress Twinkle Khanna was also the star attraction during this historic election. It may be recalled that Kaka lost the first election in 1991 to BJP stalwart Lal Krishna Advani by merely 1500 votes but since the latter opted for his victorious Gandhi Nagar seat, Kaka contested for the second time against BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha n won by a handsome margin. Kaka had an outstandingly charming personality, fair and reddish n delicate as a flower but was strong as well as a perfectly healthy man. He was too hard working, ferocious against his political rival and never gave up during his padayatra and door to door campaigning under the scorching sun. I remember how he started his padayatra on the main roads of Cannaught Place under the scorching heat at eleven o clock, non along with his supporters and high profile Congress leaders without any ifs n buts a continued till one o clock n thereafter during the evening hours in other localities of New Delhi. The Congress leaders accompanying him in these Padyatras would get tired and leave in between but Kaka never got tired and continued with his mission victory. A super star leading a high profile lavish life style in air conditioned rooms was then a common man with boils under his feet. He visited every guru dwara, temple, mosque and church during his campaigning and evening functions of marriages, birthday parties and obituaries. Kaka never discussed films or film related talks while in politics and used to rather avoid them. He was thereafter more a politician than an outstanding actor believing in political matters and problems of his constituency, seriously.
 
Very few people know that it was Kaka who compelled the then finance minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh during PV Narasimha Rao’s tenure to enhance the income tax exemption limit to one lakh. He met Dr. Singh along with a deputation of the conglomerate of the various residential welfare associations and compelled the then Finance minister to fulfill the demand of the extension of the tax exemption limit from Rs. 60 thousand to 1 lac annually. It was fulfilled by Mr. Singh to the jubilation of the government employees who constituted a very large chunk of his New Delhi constituency. In Kaka’s victory, this factor played an extremely important role.  Kaka had then won against BJP’s star rival Shatrughan Sinha with a large number of votes.
 
SUNIL NEGI