Everything passes on. Everyone passes on. Live every moment fully, happily, before it too passes on, into eternity.
I woke up realizing it is Rajesh Khanna’s death anniversary today. He passed on this day, in 2012.
His story of superstardom is folklore now. People of my generation grew up watching him mesmerize audiences in film after film! That is, until hubris struck him. With the arrival of Amitabh Bachchan Hindi cinema audiences preferred the Angry Young Man to the romantic hero. Sadly, instead of changing his screen strategy to suit the times, Rajesh grew jealous of Amitabh’s rising popularity. Books by biographers and researchers talk of how he snubbed Amitabh on the sets of Bawarchi (1972, Hrishikesh Mukherjee) – Amitabh did not have an onscreen role in the film (he was only the narrator), but he would hang around the sets courting a young Jaya Bhaduri then. They also talk of Rajesh’s drinking bout one night after coming back from an awards function where the crowds ran past him to mob and seek autographs from Amitabh. It is believed that Rajesh, in drunken stupor, ran up to the terrace of his bungalow Aashirwad, and in pouring rain, kneeled down on the ground, looked up at the menacing skies and cried out, asking: “Why, why me?”
I have loved Rajesh Khanna as anybody else in India has – as an actor who gave us great memories! Memories that have been made even more unputdownable by the songs that R.D.Burman composed for him, and those that Kishore Kumar sang for him! But I will always remember Rajesh Khanna for something else too. I will remember him for this acceptance speech that he delivered at an IIFA Awards event in 2009. There’s a big lesson, in how Life plays the big leveler, in observing him receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from, who else, Amitabh Bachchan – the man who knocked him out of relevance! There’s also a lesson in acceptance and moving on here, in hearing him recite his famous lines from Daag (1973, Yash Chopra) after he receives the Award. I am not sure if Rajesh ever realized the spiritual depth of what he said that night. But the lessons I gleaned from that speech (a reel dialogue mounted perfectly in a real Life context!) will stay with me forever: nothing is permanent and everything will, over time, pass on!
So, this Monday, I meditate on those learnings. I recognize that everything happens through me, and not because of me. Where I am in Life, I know I only have a right to make my efforts, every single day, while staying detached from the fruits of my actions – the Bhagavad Gita’s most basic tenet is now indelibly ingrained in me. I am grateful to Life for teaching me, through my experiences, to be this way. I know and accept that Life happens in phases, and every phase, like everything and everyone, will pass on…my job really is, as Life flows, to live fully, happily, in each moment!