By Chaitanya Padukone
At the launch event of the trailer of the sci-space multi-starrer opus entertainer ‘Mission Mangal’ (2019) directed by Jagan Shakti, what apparently escaped the attention of the entire audience including the hero Akshay Kumar, was this glaring surreal coincidence. That same day (July 18th) happened to be the death anniversary of Bollywood’s first superstar Rajesh Khanna, who happens to be Akshay Kumar’s legendary father-in-law. Quite possible, that since they had a rigid protocol, of not deviating from the ‘Mission Mangal’, event-emcee Akshay focused only on his movie promotion.
At one of his exclusive media interviews in the past, with me as a senior film journalist, the charismatic Rajesh Khanna during his lifetime mentioned to me that it was his “ardent dream-wish to share screen-space with my star son-in-law Akshay Kumar in a movie, provided the script and both our roles are extraordinary. Surely, I can bet that it would be a ‘casting coup’ and generate fireworks on the screen, if some enterprising filmmaker casts Akshay and me together in some film project.
Of course, I would not want to play his ‘sasur-ji in the movie but some other non-related powerful screen character. It would be engaging sparring of histrionic talents. Actually, I am game, but I need to check with Akshay whether he would also be equally excited to be co-starring with me. The lethal combination of romantic icon RK versus action-king AK would definitely create history in the annals of Bollywood, “Khanna shared with me with his famous slant-head-nod and eyes-blink panache gesture.
Also read: ‘Rajesh Khanna was keen playing a mentor-lead role somewhat like SRK in ‘Chak De’, in our upcoming movie,’ recalls Ashim (Shakti) Samanta
Unfortunately, due to his shocking untimely demise following his prolonged critical illness, Kaka-ji (that’s what showbiz folks fondly called the Khanna) passed away before his ‘dream’ could materialize. Just as Akshay dares to take up unconventional roles that challenge his popular image as in ‘Rustom’ or in ‘PadMan’ or even in ‘Toilet-Ek Prem Katha’, even his father-in-law Rajesh Khanna at the peak of his career, defied his romantic love-guru image to act in landmark movies like ‘Anand’, ‘Bawarchi’ and ‘Ittefaq’ where there was ‘no’ romantic heroine cast opposite him.
(The writer Chaitanya Padukone shared a close personal rapport with superstar Rajesh Khanna for nearly three decades and is an eminent senior film and music journalist-author of memoirs book R D BurMania)