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Nandu’s Natter – Rajesh Khanna, Manivanna


By Nandu Doré

Email: nandore@hotmail.com





Zindagi ka Surfer

Yeh Jaam Mastani

Prem nagar ka shehzada


Hard to believe its been six years since he’s passed on and yet The Phenomenon still lives on in your system. Reading this book is just the excuse you need to go time travelling to the 70s.

.... It was Geeta Bali who prodded him to make that quantum leap from theatre to celluloid She put her money on Dharmendra though ....

The book itself though is a damp squib just as many of his movies.What part of his story is really untold? His childhood and teen years perhaps and whatever little is known here too is disputable according to the author himself.

Gossip columnists turned part-time psycho-analysts traced Kakaji's complexities not to the roller coaster ride curves of his career graph but to the fact that he was brought by two mothers as a kid

One would think that the author would at least provide some rational pointers over his phenomenal rise if not his phenomenal downfall. All we got was a collage of archived glossy mag articles that seem to have been extracted from a simple google search.

.... When Salim Khan praised Sanjeev Kumar to the skies Kakaji could not stomach it and "unfriended" him of course he did cross-verify with him first ....

The legend and fame of Rajesh Khanna was got to be seen by present and previous generations on live TV in July 2012 in its magnanimous glory when “Kakaji” was playing out his death scene in reality. It all began with a rumor that was spread that he was dead and then he emerged Phoenix like out of his Aashirwad bungalow waving a victory sign at enthralled onlookers. But sadly his health deteriorated thereafter and after his death was announced in a rather terse statement by son-in-law Akshay Kumar the crowds went berserk. It seemed like this is just what Rajesh Khanna desired. To top it all even the heavens started pouring torrential rains as though the entire nebulus was fighting copious outbursting tears in a dramatic elan. He wanted to see the frenzy over him one last time before breathing his last. It was just like those frenzied times when nubile girls wrote him letters pen-dipped in blood. I was shocked to see a local news channel here giving fair deal of coverage over the mass hysteria over this death.

.... As per Zeenat Aman, Rajesh behaved like an Ajanabee to her right from their first movie together to their last ....

Those of us who grew up in the 70s will vouch that Rajesh Khanna did not really abdicate superstardom. Some of my cousins were known to be his diehard fans even after his supposed fall of status. While I’m not sure if they wrote him letters dripping in blood, one of them did confess throwing a tumbler full of Bournvita onto the floor in anger when she heard that his days were numbered.

Much was written about those days of the Rajesh-Tina onscreen chemistry Lekin naam bade darshan chote Here's a sampling and this is as good as it gets, nowhere near the Rajesh-Mumtaz jugalbandi

My earliest memories of Rajesh Khanna was in Maryada where he is on the train with Mala Sinha & they’re talking forever without either’s mug being shown on screen for some reason. Always the knight in shining armor he saves her from a snake-bite I think. Ditto in Kati Patang where he catches Asha Parekh’s purse snatcher. Asha Parekh incidentally was the first to cite those gorkha eyes. Supposedly some male fans they met in Nanital did not really take a shine for Rajesh Khanna and made that remark in passing much to Kakaji’s embarassment. There is more to what meets the eye over Asha Parekh’s remarks. Rajesh Khanna once said a senior actress had designs on him and expressed her wishes to settle down with him as her career is just about over. According to Khanna, she did not take it kindly when he turned down her offer. It does not take an Einstein to put 2 and 2 together. Asha Parekh was one of the few actresses who spoke to TV channels after his death. Conspicuous by their absence were Mumtaz & Sharmila Tagore. Speaking of Sharmila, of course I saw Aradhana as a 5 yeard-old though for some reason it was shown in our neck of the woods in B&W.

Looks like he is mocking Thiru MGR illay? Khair, got away with it anyways

This was the phase when the phenom had just begun to work its venom. His Joru Ka Ghulam & Mere Jeevan Saathi were not too doing well then yet he was popular no doubt. Then there was Bawarchi which was more or less the return of Anand. While the movie was talked about – no doubt – I don’t believe it fared as well as Anand. Everyone was talking about how in Bawarchi he sprayed some soporific while the family was fast asleep and then just vanished into the blue. Not sure what Hrishida was thinking but who would empathise with a thief? His movies ran to packed houses regardless as we could get tickets for Rajesh Khanna starrers mostly for the night shows. So I would fall asleep just after the movie would begin. The only movie I remember watching in full then was I think Johny Mera Naam. Anyways enuf about me, so my cousins – male & female were all drooling over him. See, a movie called Honeymoon was just released and they were all talking about it. What they were talking sounded like Klingonese to me then. So I asked them what the buzz was about. One of them patiently explained that in the movie Rajesh Khanna goes moon exploration for some honey!

.... Prem Chopra's entry into Bobby was not by mere coincidence
Dimple could no more hide her baby bump during the climax shoot.
Randhir Kapoor to Khanna - "Ever heard of Nirodh?" ...

It must be after Prem Nagar that his supposed decline was on fast forward mode. Still we were able to get a load of most of his blockbusters on Doordarshan, be it Anand, Amar Prem, Kati Patang or Dushman. Heck, we got to watch his flop movies too like Maalik & Shehzaada. Sowee it would seem he did have friends in high places just as Bachchan. Many of his flops did have good stories – you know – like the kind Rajshri movies reveled in & hit gold most of the time. And Rajshri did not even bother studding their movies with stars. He was still in demand in the late 70s and was churning out at least one hit per year be it Chaila Babu, Thodisi Bewafai & Amardeep, Dhanwan or Fifty-Fifty. While it was sad to see how Khanna bravely announced just about every release of his as his comeback vehicle, he was actually chipping away merrily at the Bachchan juggernaut till at one point he was giving the big B a run for his money. I have already covered this earlier.

.... After Dimple saw the Rajesh-Tina dalliance with her own eyes (during this movie's shoot), she wrote a note on the dresser mirror saying "Its over Hon" and promptly left the shores of Mauritius ....

Dimple talks about Rajesh in his presence, words pregnant with meaning

Coming back to the book, it did promise to be a laugh riot of sorts with none other than Salim Khan writing the foreword. Yes folks, the same Salim Khan of Salim-Javed fame who were working overtime in dethroning the Khanna from his peacock throne perch and actively writing author-backed roles for Bachchan very much in keeping with the vendetta theme in most of their scripts. Salim Khan now out-rightly denies such claims, yes we believe you Salim, no worries.

.... Rajesh deliberately directed his wedding baraat procession route to passthrough right outside his ex Anju Mahindroo's home ....

An interesting common thread running among most accounts is that Rajesh Khanna was an introvert. I find that hard to believe as it is also said he would be surrounded by hangers-on and self-seekers on any given occasion. The author argues that it is this introverted nature that made him foster those breed of chamchas who would drive a wedge between his friends and his foes.

Building up the suspense in his maiden hit Ittefaq

There are tall claims in this book on how it promises to re-create that era where Rajesh Khanna was the most powerful being in the sub-continent next only to PM Indira Gandhi. Sorry to throw a spanner on that work but there are youtube clippings of a BBC documentary that shows their crew shadowing Rajesh Khanna while he was still Numero Uno. Whether it is his friendship to Devyani Chaubal, marriage to Dimple, his fan following, his tardiness – you can see it all there as though you were actually there.

.... that infamous BBC docu-drama showing Khanna's superstardom in its full-flow and glory
dekho dekho biscope, ghar baite saara sansar dekho....

Not unpredictably the book waxes eloquence about those gorgeous Khanna women, leaving out the best parts of course. Rajesh Khanna had once confessed it was Tina that he was in love with the most among his beaus. Not sure why this part was omitted. Another part that was not verbose enough was his split with Anju. After she walked out of Aashirwaad she sent word thru his driver with the words “tell that cad not to darken my doors again”. It is believed that Khanna did not take this insult kindly and left no stone unturned in sabotaging Anju’s career. But she moved on and did make a mark in TV serials when they started getting popular. This was in the mid 80s. With time she forgave Khanna too. That plus she was engaged once to Sir Gary Sobers as she was going steady with the Khanna! Both were Kings in their own fiefdoms. So my vote goes for Anju Mahindroo.

When Khanna asked Salim-Javed to re-write  Bhola Bhala for him, they refused.
Note that SJ gladly re-wrote Haathi Mere Saathi and created that Andaz role when the going was good ....

Being a Bhola Bhala avtaar I am, I am not going to trash the book all over the place. There are some facts in the book that’re mentioned about his childhood that were hitherto unknown to me. Did you know about his first crush? There are mentions of his life in the theatre but I would like to quickly point out most of it are mere mundane stuff that you or I went thru. That being said there was no light thrown on what actually drove him to a career in the movies – who were his favorite actors, directors, why acting & why not writing or painting and things of that nature.

Rajesh Khanna enacted a scene similar to this one for clinching the United Producers talent contest. He supposedly asked the judges (who were famous film makers) for changes to the original situation as it made no sense to him

In summation, a thumbs down for sure as there were no real opinions expressed from his immediate family, or co-stars – other than Salim Khan. One more thing, please – no more Bollywood bios that are mere cut-pastes from google. Google will ugal that you want it to ugal. You read on google that the Moon landings were faked, will you believe? Also don’t trash the statements of the protagonist himself I say. Are you really selling the book or are you playing God?


.... When Mehmood could not take Khanna's tantrums no more he socked him real hard saying "You're getting paid well to do my film and will bloody well do as I say" ....


Nandu will also hazard an opinion over his phenomenal rise. You see in the mid and late 60s the Brits got their Beatles, the Yanks got their Elvis so can the Desis be far behind? So they made up Khanna mannivanna, yay! Q.E.D. Now why they chose to make a vanna out of him and take him to the cleaners after, that I do not know. What I do know is he was well in demand – a busy star right till the mid 80s. Mind you all his movies were not jubiless even in his golden goose phase. Remember Bandhan, Dil-Daulat-duniya or Choti Bahu? Did he deserve credit for Maryada, Safar or Khamoshi and was it fair for Raaj Kumar, Sanjeev Kumar, Feroz Khan or Dharmendra to become the fall guys? Conversely, he did not really fade away despite his phenomenal downfall did he?

Such was his power at one point that
Raj Kapoor had to seek his permission
to "release" Dimple for shooting the
remaining portions of Bobby

All in all, a good innings after of course a 400 for-no-loss like thundering start. What we can take away from the Rajesh Khanna story is to never give up hope. I mean just look at the number of of his movies he announced as his comeback vehicle: Red Rose, Dhanwan, Dard.. it wasn’t funny anymore and yet who had the last laugh in 1983?


Last but ain't the least:
RD Burman talks about his dosti with Rajesh

Suresh Dore –

👆🏻Who can forget the way he glorified the railway station? Everyone wanted to be a station master after this movie!!

Sanjay Manjrekar – Grim Accumalator





    Major Dil breaker

    How many Mumbaikars do you see in the current National cricket squad? What happened to them then you ask? Well, this is exactly why I chose to read Sanjay Manjrekar’s autobiography.

    Sanjay who you ask? Rewind to the good ol’ days of Test Match cricket when all the top order batsmen in the Bharat XI comprised of Bombay based Maharashtrians. Could have been more had they managed to produce one decent Test class bowler too. This trend started ever since the evolution of cricket in India since the ancient days of Merchant & Mankad. Rather dramatically, their numbers began to decline somewhere in the 80s with the exit of Vengsarkar, Sandeep Patil, Gavaskar & Shastri. Manjrekar, Kambli & Tendulkar tried to keep the flag flying but only Sachin survived.

    Such was Papa Manjrekar's repute as sharp wit & tongue
    that once Chetan Chauhan approached him for advice.
    Manjrekar responded, "Son there is nothing wrong with your technique".
    "Though there could be something wrong with the selectorial process
    as you still ended up playing Test cricket"

    So what happened to this pedigreed breed? Was greed their only need indeed? Sanjay explains this trend to lack of physical fitness but then does a quick recovery by writing reams and reams eulogising Mumbai cricket and how none of us could have possibly have survived without their kind services. Jai Maharashtra! So where is Mumbai now in the cricket map of India? Unhe Zameen khaa gayi yah aasmaan nigal gaya?

    Sanjay candidly explains he became a cricketer just because he was expected to be one. His dad was the world-famous Vijay Manjrekar who could crack the bat as well as his razor sharp tongue all around the park. He was showered with affection by his fellow cricketers despite his foul temper. Goes without saying son Sanjay was also well taken care of. Gavaskar personally handed him over a Gray Nicholls bat he bought just for him from England. Viv Richards also waited patiently for him to show up to congratulate him on his ’89 Barbados test ton. Volatile tempered Papa Manjrekar’s family had to bear a whole lot of brunt of this “volcano” of talent so to speak. His son Sanjay grew up to be a complexed kid with an pronounced in-built defence mechanism that he suspects showed in his batting technique.

    Papa Manjrekar always displayed guts whether on field or in the streets
    Yuppers, I can tell you first-hand it does take guts to be in the same frame as a Dore
    (Giri Dore receives best bowler award in 1975 for a Siemens game)

    Apparently Sanjay could occupy the crease for hours without keeping the scoreboard ticking and this is the only talent he honed in the final analysis.

    Manjrekar’s short-livety as a batter can also be attributed to his devotion to himself as opposed to the interests of the team. Does it make any sense he introspected a lot about his mistakes and yet did not turn out to be a record shattering batsman? Apparently Mumbaikars also do not get along all that well with mates from North Zone. Sanjay blames it on the watching crowds too who would rather watch India lose than miss out on a Mumbaikar’s ton.

    One of Sanjay’s beefs is that team management in his time expected a lot from their boys who were not really in the mood for winning any game overseas.

    His book though was a li’l bit more interesting to read than watching one of his boring innings. He begins with a dramatic flourish stating to the effect that today he has nothing to do with cricket which we know is a fallacy as he is making a living as a cricket commentator. He does find his way around with words and that would explain his tremendous success he now enjoys as a TV commentator.

    My initial memories of Sanjay was when in he got that fabulous double hundred against the then formidable Pakistan side in 1989. Before that he got a hundred against the Windies too in Barbados though I don’t think it was really a tour worth remembering. The Indians got thrashed 0-3 in the Tests and got “black-washed” in the ODIs as a side-dish. After the tour they even had the gall to play “masala matches” in the US in return for a handsome remuneration. Bus ek sharm hi to nahi aati in logon ko. The Cricket Board ordered them to not play those matches and yet they did. What commenced later was a Players vs Board match which was fought to the last man but no one really won the game. If only the then players showed such tenaciousness in the playing ground at that time. All this is of course conveniently omitted from the book.

    Another memory is how he would consistently got himself run out in the 1992 World Cup games effectively putting India out of contention. His version is that his lack of fitness was the root cause.

    .... Sanjay Manjrekar runs himself out yet again
    in crucial '92 World Cup encounter vs Aussies
    effectively snuffing India out of contention ....

    A final recollection of mine was when just after his premature retirement he wrote how Indians must develop an aggressive temperament like the Pakis before they can even think of winning games overseas. Not sure how effective this ploy was as the Indians still are yet to win a Test series in Australia and by and large struggle with both bat and ball in foreign pitches.

    What is rather odd and noteworthy about this book is that Sanjay is all gaga over those who were accused of match fixing – Manoj Prabhakar, Azharuddin & Ajay Jadeja. Conversely he is rather critical of Kapil Dev who was cleared of all charges. There are suggestions Kapil would fake injuries when the Windies were in town. He does not name Kapil but it has got to be a senior player who commands and demands respect. Apparently Kapil Dev encouraged a culture where seniors were to be respected as not seen as buddies, yaars or cronies. He would like it if someone called him Paaji. There are other instances where without naming names he talks about a time where a senior player did not want to face a fiery Wasim Akram and kept going to the non-striker side, giving the strike to Manjrekar. Not sure who the player could be other than Kapil Dev.

    Overall he paints a sorry picture about the dressing room mileau of the 90s. Team meetings were mere formalities and no one really played to win as the fans were supposedly “not expecting” them to win in those days. Skipper Azharuddin would be mumbling to himself and the team would just not their heads pretending to hear every word. Azhar’s strategy if you want to call it that was to leave everything to Almighty.


    .... When K Srikkanth was elevated to captaincy in 1989 one ex-captain remarked:
    "So a hawaldar has been made Commissioner of Police, What next?" ....

    While he is critical of players outside of Mumbai and beyond, he is very generous in praise for overseas players. And yes that would include Ian Chappell who (alongwith jigar ka tukda Greg) every Indian cricket fan worth their salt believe to be the cause of the ruin of Indian cricket. Makes perfect diplomatic sense I guess not to rub fellow commentators the wrong way. Paani me reh kay magarmuch se bair? Nuh-uh. In fact Manjrekar is also kind of giving tutorials on how to suck up to your bosses of the corporate world if you want to bring food to your dining table. He even went to the extent of apologising to viewers on behalf of Dean Jones who made a racist remark at South African Amla for everyone subscribing to cable to hear.

    His bounty of overflowing encomiums extends to players across the border too. Manjrekar Jr goes as far as saying he wished he played under the tutelage of Imran the irresistable Khan. This does not automatically bring his patriotism to question (Jai Maharashtra, remember?) so we’ll let that slide. However his training his gun on North zoners should make him want to move out of his glass house. After all how do you explain freeloaders like Ashok Mankad who survived Test cricket for a decade without a single Test hundred?

    Speaking of match fixing, Manjrekar was also secretly taped by Manoj Prabhakar in that sensational Tehelka expose. Now why would he wanna do that is the million dollar question. The book also addresses the burning topic of match fixing with a straight copybook defensive bat leaving the stumps totally unexposed. All we could get out of him was that Ian Chappell’s views on how matches get fixed are rather naive. Now what exactly did he mean by that is another million dollar question. Manjrekar Jr. also claims that much talked about India-Pak match “awarded” to Pakistan due to bad light was not Azhar’s doing.

    All in all a book makes breezy reading for the quintessential desi cricket afficionado though I would not really qualify it as a must-read. The book covers cricket from bygone era and current times with aplomb. Though certain portions already covered by Tendulkar such as the 96 World Cup could have been edited out as it is clearly a ploy to increase the thickness of the book.

    .... The World Cup '96 India vs Pakistan encounter
    In those days it was rare for India to win a crunch situation match
    both Sachin and Sanjay mention this match in their bios ....