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Political leaders grieve over Rajesh Khanna’s death

New Delhi/Mumbai, July 18 (ANI): Leaders across the political spectrum on Wednesday expressed grief over the death of Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna.

Khanna, the first superstar of Bollywood, passed away after a prolonged illness at his Bandra residence today. He was 69.

“I came to know about the news, it is very unfortunate. He was a great human being. He was an asset for the country. He had a great personality. But I have to say that it is very sad that he died so early,” said Congress leader Harish Rawat.

“I am very saddened to know the demise of Rajesh Khanna .He has had an influence on me through the various roles he has played,” said BJD lawmaker B J Panda.

“He played the role of a pilot, and I got so influenced by him that I wanted to become a pilot, which I eventually became. And as a parliamentarian too he has done a good job. He had great influence on many people who watched his films. It’s a very sad day. We all miss him,” he added.

Khanna will be cremated tomorrow morning. The police has cordoned off his bungalow, Aashirwad, on Carter Road in Bandra.

The actor, who enjoyed unprecedented adulation from his fans across the country, was rushed to Lilavati Hospital twice in the past one month due to exhaustion and weakness.

Khanna’s health started deteriorating since April this year when he stopped taking food and complained of exhaustion and weakness.

Khanna, who married actress Dimple Kapadia in 1973, has two daughters Twinkle and Rinki. Twinkle, an interior decorator and a former film actress, is married to actor Akshay Kumar.

Khanna was born in Amritsar on December 29, 1942. Khanna lived in Thakurdwar near Girgaon. Khanna attended St. Sebastian’s Goan High School in Girgaum, along with his friend Ravi Kapoor, who later took the stage name Jeetendra.

Rajesh Khanna was one of eight finalists in the 1965 All India Talent Contest organised by United Producers and Filmfare from more than ten thousand contestants. Subsequently, Khanna won the contest.

He made his film debut in the 1966 film Aakhri Khat directed by Chetan Anand, followed by Raaz directed by Ravindra Dave both of which were a part of his predetermined prize for winning the All-India United Producers’ Talent Competition.

He rose to prominence with his performances in films like Raaz, Baharon Ke Sapne, Ittefaq and Aradhana.

Khanna appeared in 163 feature films of which 128 as the lead protagonist including 106 as the solo lead hero films and 22 two-hero projects and did 17 short films. He won three Filmfare Best Actor Awards and was nominated for the same fourteen times.

He received the maximum BFJA Awards for Best Actor (Hindi) – four times and nominated 25 times.

Khanna, the ‘First Superstar’ of Hindi cinema, was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. (ANI)