Three years after Bollywood’s first superstar Rajesh Khanna passed away, a collection of memorabilia comprising film posters, lobby cards featuring films he starred in are being put together in a grand show that pays tribute to the late hero.
“He was a superstar who ruled over the hearts of the people. He was Bollywood’s first superstar. From him the craze of super stardom arrived in the industry,” says Sumant Batra, a museum curator and philanthropist who has put together the collection,.
The showcase at the India Habitat Centre here tomorrow portrays the many shades of Khanna as a Bollywood actor, film producer and politician who starred in 15 consecutive solo hit films in the period 1969 to 1971.
“During that period a lot of effort was put into promoting a movie. Since it was not the digital age film posters used to be hand painted by eminent artists like M F Husain and Babu Lal. Lobby cards and show cards with spectacular art work have been displayed in lobby of cinema halls and film song booklets sold outside the movie hall as memorabilia,” says Batra.
Iconic yesteryear film posters, lobby cards, show cards besides song booklets and some long play vinyl records feature in the exhibition.
The event ‘Remembering Rajesh Khanna’ is being co-organized by HarperCollins publishers of the actor’s biography – “Dark Star: The Loneliness of being Rajesh Khanna by Gautam Chintamani” that was brought out in 2014.
At a time when film stars were truly larger than life, Khanna was even more: the one for whom the term ‘superstar’ was coined. Born Jatin Khanna to middle-class parents, the actor was adopted by rich relatives who brought him up like a prince. By the time he won the Filmfare United Producers Combine Talent Hunt, he was already famous for being the struggler who drove an imported sports car.
On April 30, 2013, the actor was officially bestowed with the title – ‘The First Superstar of Indian Cinema’ at Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Awards.
A postage stamp, bearing his face, was released by India Post to honour him on May 3, 2013. On his first death anniversary, a bronze statue of Rajesh Khanna was unveiled at Bandra Bandstand in Mumbai.
“The exhibition will consists of about eighteen of the “original superstar’s” film posters, two dozen lobby and show cards, two dozen song booklets and two dozen of vinyl records,” says Batra. .