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One Man Show: Q&A with author Kersi Contractor

Kersi Contractor (59) is a veteran film trade journalist, writer, and lyricist. He has been associated with Bollywood for 32 years and was fraternized with Super Box Office, Super Cinema, and Film & Trade Magazine and penned short stories for Hindi films weekly. Among other achievements, he has also edited and published tabloids Cine Prince (1998), Industry Intouch (2000), and Industry Eye (2003–2014), a film trade informative monthly magazine.

In our Q&A session today, we will see the legendary actor Rajesh Khanna’s film journey, illustrated by the author…

Why was Rajesh Khanna called Kaka?

Kaka was Rajesh Khanna's pet name given by his adoptive mother Lilawati Khanna since he was a kid. Everyone in the film industry called him by that name. After his marriage, his wife Dimple Kapadia also called him by the same name. Kaka became a parallel name of Rajesh Khanna in real-life.                                                                                                        

To date, how many books have been published on Rajesh Khanna?

There are a couple of biographies published on Rajesh Khanna like The Untold Story of India' First Superstar Rajesh Khanna (2014), The Loneliness of Being Rajesh Khanna; Dark Star (2015); The Most Versatile Superstar-Actor of Hindi Cinema Rajesh Khanna (2022).  That's why, I came out with filmography, one of a kind.

Why does Rajesh Khanna have the title ‘One Man Show’ to his name?

The title ‘One Man Show’ perfectly suits Rajesh Khanna, because when Rajesh Khanna joined the Hindi film industry, the competition was very tough as most of the heroes were ruling at the box office like Rajender Jubilee Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, Biswajeet, Sunil Dutt, Raj Kumar, and Sanjeev Kumar, the main three pillars being Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, and Raj Kapoor. 

But with jubilees like Aradhana, Sachcha Jhutha, Amar Prem, Kati Patang, Anand, Dushman Haathi Mere Saathi, Aan Milo Sajna, Rajesh Khanna side-lined all the heroes. Most of the theatres were running all Rajesh Khanna movies. Rajesh Khanna was a guarantee of success. A One-Man-Show. To date, none has been able to reach his popularity height, or has been triumphant to break Rajesh Khanna’s record of 17 incessant hits, 15 solo and two multi-starrers.                                             

What challenges did Rajesh Khanna face during his career in the film journey?

Somewhere from 1975, Rajesh Khanna’s films were not doing well, so he turned toward action movies. Apart from Chhaila Babu, Zamana, and Ashanti, the rest were flops and below average. Finally, once again he diversified towards family dramas.                       

What kind of roles did Rajesh Khanna get to show his talent?

Aradhana was a female-oriented subject, but Rajesh Khanna had stolen the show in a double role. In Ittefaq he played a mentally retarded person which was applauded. Anand and Safar, where he was a cancer patient, a role he acted with ease, and Avtaar, wherein he played an aged self-made man, indicate Khanna’s talent. 

How was Rajesh Khanna’s relationship with everyone in the industry?

Some were happy and some unhappy as happens with everybody. It was observed that Rajesh Khanna had good relations with the late Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, and Sanjay Khan. 

Were all the movies of Rajesh Khanna released?

No. There were unreleased films like Rajesh Khanna's home production Jai Shiv Shankar and Baaye Haath Ka Khel as most of his films were on shelves or left incomplete.             

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