Did You Know? - Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila Tagore Duo Was Flavour Of Early 1970s Bollywood
Did you know that Sharmila Tagore was nowhere near Rajesh Khanna when the iconic song 'Mere Sapnon Ki Rani Kab Ayegi Tu' was filmed on the toy train to Darjeeling.
Sharmila Tagore was spot-on when she recently compared her 1969 blockbuster ARADHANA to “RRR of Our Time.” It had scored a Golden Jubilee – 50-week run – across the country. Getting tickets was difficult and there were long queues outside cinema theatres.
But did you know that Sharmila was nowhere near Rajesh Khanna when the iconic song, “Mere Sapnon Ki Rani Kab Ayegi Tu” was filmed on the toy train to Darjeeling for ARADHANA? She was definitely shown reading a book while Rajesh serenaded her on a jeep driven by buddy Sujit Kumar. But her part was shot separately and indoors
In her earlier hit, “AN EVENING IN PARIS” (1967) she had donned a bikini. She was dating her beau, the star cricketer Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. The time had come to meet his mother. Reports now confirm that Sharmila’s driver, in the middle of one night, went about removing all posters showing her in the bikini on the route by which her prospective mother-in-law was to travel to meet her.
Having played many glamorous roles through the 1960s, Sharmila was looking for an image change. That was when Aradhana happened. The public overlooked her being an unwed mother but remembered her sacrifices for her son (Rajesh Khanna in a double role). He did not know that she was the real mother.
The change of image that she desired came through in AMAR PREM (even though she played a tawaif), SAFAR, and AVISHKAR. Sharmila was seen as a purposeful artiste. With these films, she acquired a sedate image.
In each of these ‘purposeful’ films, she starred opposite RAJESH KHANNA. ARADHANA was the first big hit for Rajesh Khanna, a newbie. He not only gained stardom, eventually being called a “Superstar”, but his acting prowess was also admired.
Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila Tagore team was the flavour of the early 1970s Bollywood. DAAG, CHHOTI BAHU, MAALIK, TYAAG, BADNAAM FARISHTE, and others followed. In all, they worked together on 10 films.
Then the change came. Years after Rajesh Khanna passed away, Sharmila opened up to say that she was tired of waiting for Kaka, as Khanna was popularly called. He was never on time, and she had a family of small children to manage. He was also ‘possessive’ and did not like her to work opposite any other hero. He would go into a sulk.
A stage came when she refused any more films with him. In an audiobook, Rajesh Khanna: Ek Tanha Sitara, released on the tenth anniversary of his death on Audible, Sharmila Tagore recalled, “One thing that affected me the most about Kaka (Rajesh Khanna) was him coming very late for the shoots. For a 9 am shift, Kaka never reached before 12 pm. That's why I decided to work with other actors even after knowing that our on-screen pairing was quite successful and loved by audiences."
Like many contemporaries, she has said that sadly, Rajesh Khanna could not handle his stardom.