Wednesday, June 16

‘First superstar’ of Bollywood dies aged 69

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Rajesh Khanna

MUMBAI: Rajesh Khanna, often referred to as the ‘first superstar’ of Bollywood and the Hindi film industry’s biggest heart-throb in his day, died yesterday after months of being unwell. He was 69.

Khanna, who had been sick since April with an undisclosed illness rumoured to be cancer, passed away at his family home in Mumbai after being discharged from hospital on Tuesday.

“My father-in-law is no more. He has left for a heavenly place. We all pray for his soul,” Khanna’s son-in-law and film actor Akshay Kumar told a rowdy crowd of reporters outside Khanna’s residence.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led an outpouring of grief on Twitter, where fans reminisced over Khanna’s greatest movies and wished his wife and two daughters well.

“I convey my heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family and countless fans and admirers of Shri Rajesh Khanna,” said Singh’s official Twitter feed.

Known as ‘Kaka’ (uncle) to his fans, Khanna was not from an acting dynasty like many big Bollywood names. He progressed from acting at school and then had a breakthrough by winning a national talent competition. — AFP