Actor Rajesh Khanna, largely regarded as the first superstar from the Bollywood industry in India, died Wednesday (July 18) after a brief illness, reports the AP. His wife, actress Dimple Kapadia, and two daughters were at his bedside in Mumbai when he passed, says son-in-law Akshay Kumar.
Khanna was born Dec. 29, 1942 in Amritsar, India. He broke into acting in the mid-1960s and in the 1970s, had 15 consecutive movies that set new sales records. In his lifetime, he made over 170 movies in his career and enjoyed enormous success in India, experiencing a Beatlemania-like female following in his home country. He reportedly received marriage proposals written in blood from obsessed fans.
Over the course of his career, Khanna was nominated for the Filmfare Awards Best Actor award 14 times, winning three of those times. He also won the Filmfare Special Guest Actor Award and was given the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. The Filmfare Awards are often referred to as the Hindi-language equivalent of the Academy Awards.
Khanna’s reign over Bollywood ended in the 1990s when action movies (as opposed to the romance films he was famous for) became in vogue, so Khanna shifted to politics and was elected to Parliament in 1992, where he served for four years.
Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, tweeted his condolences: “PM: I convey my heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved
family and countless fans and admirers of Shri Rajesh Khanna.”
Khanna is survived by his wife, daughters Twinkle Khanna and Rinke Khanna, and two grandchildren.