Book Review Dark Star (Rajesh Khanna): Massive Success, Bloated Ego and Dramatic Downfall


When I learnt that author Gautam Chintamani has now come up with his first book titled, Dark Star – The Loneliness of Being Rajesh Khanna a HarperCollins India Publication what intrigued me is the fact why there had not been many books written earlier on India’s first Superstar Rajesh Khanna. The reasons might be innumerable however I am glad that author Gautam Chintamani with his deep research and prolific writing made efforts to come up with his first book on Rajesh Khanna. Gautam is a born cinephile and also a popular columnist across many leading National Publications. Post reading this book an impressive read I take this opportunity to pen down a short summary review of his book.

Rajesh Khanna (Massive Success, Bloated Ego and Dramatic Downfall)

The name Rajesh Khanna registers three things in my mind: His massive success, bloated ego and the dramatic downfall. Mind the sequence success, ego and then downfall. Were they all interlinked? I thought so “Yes” but not until the author Gautam and his book provided me deeper insight and convincing response.

Early Days and Massive Success

“Superstar” the word was coined by the media for actor Rajesh Khanna. With seventeen massive hits to his credits in a short span of just over four years Khanna felt this phase would remain for eternity. He was originally born as Jatin Khanna to middle class parents and was later adopted by rich relatives who brought him up like a prince. His adoptive Mother wouldn’t allow anyone to go anywhere near his room in the morning till Kaka woke up on his own. Even when it came to going to school it was the man himself Rajesh Khanna more than anyone else who would decide whether he wanted to attend the classes or not. He used to tell his friends if he asked for five rupees he would get ten from his parents. The time when Rajesh Khanna won the Filmfare United Producers Combine Talent Hunt, as a struggler he was already famous as person who drove an imported sports car. The impact of his success was so much that short anecdote from the book says, While Khanna was shooting for “Prem Kahani” at Mithibai College a fakir in the vicinity went about begging for alms from the crowd not in the name of the Almighty but in the name of the Superstar then Rajesh Khanna. Such was the hysteria generated by the Superstar then amongst the common masses.

Bloated Ego

First it was his massive success then came in his bloated ego and how one’s exalted ego can bring down an individual from success to mediocrity a lesson we must learn looking at the life and times of Rajesh Khanna. It’s rightly said, “Where love enters ego takes the exit and where ego enters love takes the exit”.

However, if one does read this book closely coupled with good research done by the author it can be distinctly seen that the man’s ego was not a by-product of his success. On the contrary the ego was always there and as large as ever.

It can be read in the book, Shyam Keswani, the lawyer introduced to Khanna by Shakti Samanta, is certain that even if Rajesh Khanna had ventured into business had been a railway contractor or even clerk for that matter his ego would have still remained the same. Rajesh Khanna was always impetuous and people got the pulse it was more especially after the string of hits post his movie Aradhana. “Success changed the attitude towards him and as long as hits were piling up no one seemed to mind his brashness.”

Dramatic Downfall

Not all days in one’s life are similar and so were they in the life of the Superstar Rajesh Khanna. There was a time where everything he touched turned into gold and later came the phase when everything he touched turned into dust. His imported cars were exchanged for Maruti 800 and his 555s were replaced with Gold Flake. He hoped Politics would give his life new direction but to no avail as a new and more dependable individual was seen then in Sunil Dutt. Khanna’s role as Father in the 1999 release”Aa Ab Laut Chalen” wasn’t widely applauded at box office as there was Mr. Amitabh Bachchan’s Mohabbatein year 2000 release that fetched Big B his Filmfare Award for the Best Supporting Actor.

Admire the good writing, the patience and deep research it took for the author Gautam to come up with his debut book on this superstar Rajesh Khanna. The book is indeed a wonderful tribute by the author that covers the odyssey of Rajesh Khanna spread across four decades which had swept the nation at one point of time. Rajesh Khanna reached heights which nobody had done before him.

Lessons Learnt

There are many interesting lesson’s one can learn post reading the book and by going through the life and times of Rajesh Khanna. However, big or small one’s achievements might be it would be always ideal to remain down to earth. Success and ego never goes hand in hand. One might win on their ego but eventually you are still a looser and you loose ahead in the battles of life eventually ending up disturbing one’s happy home. Be it the loneliness of being a superstar or be it a common mass ego leads you no where. Rightly coined by Kabir, “Speak without ego it will calm you and comfort others.”

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