Thursday, July 19, 2012

Rajesh Khanna, the superstar overshadowed the actor

It is a mistake some of us had committed then. We were amused -- and perhaps even irritated -- by Rajesh Khanna's superstar status. We thought he was a namby-pamby actor whose success was rather irrational. So, when he was with Amitabh Bachchan in Hrishikesh Mukherjee directed "Namak Haram", which was in turn loosely based on Hal Wallis'"Becket" starring Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton, we thought Bachchan was better. But we saw his acting mettle once he came out of shadows of the blinding light of his superstar state. And looking back at "Namak Haram" one realises that he gave a brilliant performance, and it is not entirely due to the fact that the script was tilted in favour of the role he portrayed.

Then one saw "Baharon Ke Sapne", his second movie, where he plays with great sincerity. The film was authentic, and he fits in with that authenticity. Even in a successful film like "Kati Patang" one can see his acting metier, which was powerful with his steely timbre of his voice and just a passing expression on his face. He did not labour at his acting and he did not even bother about it. The acting came naturally to him and he showed the star's attitude towards acting. But acting he did, and did well when he had to do even in the most ordinary movies. Take for example "Sacha Jhuta", which was a study in quiet histrionics in the most predictable of roles.

But the fire of his acting shone brightly in movies like Basu Bhattacharya's "Aavishkar" where he and Sharmila play the roles of an estranged couple. It was a classy middle class movie. Then come to the very stereotypical "Avtar"where he plays the role of the hurt and humiliated patriarch who fights back with grit. One could see the actor shining through effortless role of a man fallen out with his family and living in the US. There was a studied restraint and dignity in his performances after he fell off from the superstar pedestal.
And now we realise that we missed the actor even in the heyday of his super stardom in films like "Do Raaste", "Aap Ki Kasam", "Aaina".
Rajesh Khanna the superstar will fade away but when any one watches his movies they will not be disappointed. A good actor can be seen in almost all of his films. 

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