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When Anju Mahendroo said Rajesh Khanna expected her to fall at his feet like other girls: ‘I submerged my identity to his’

Rajesh Khanna and Anju Mahendroo's relationship started falling apart after he became a star with Aradhana.

rajesh khannaAnju Mahendroo spoke about her break up with Rajesh Khanna. (Photo: Anju Mahendroo/Instagram)

Rajesh Khanna became a superstar soon after the release of the 1969 film Aradhana and it was right around the time that reports about his relationship with Anju Mahendroo started appearing in a few tabloids. But the relationship could not take the pressure of his fame and they eventually fell apart.

Yasser Usman’s book on the life of the actor, Rajesh Khanna: The Untold Story of India’s First Superstar, has Anju Mahendroo talking about how Rajesh was exhilarated when he saw the effect he had on women and expected the same out of her. The book quotes a 1973 interview from Stardust where Anju said, “He wanted me to fuss over him like all those others who are perpetually falling at his feet. I loved him. I couldn’t fawn over him. To me, he was Jatin or Justin. A man I loved, not Rajesh Khanna, Superstar or The Phenomenon.”

Anju, too, was trying to be a movie star in those days. She had appeared in a few films but had not made it in the big league. She said that Rajesh did not want her to have her own individuality and she gave it all up. “As much as I could, I had submerged my individuality, my personality, my identity into his – to make him happy. He wanted me to give up modelling at a time when I was paid very highly. I did,” she said.

Rajesh and Anju had appeared together in a film called Bandhan, where he had more screen time with Mumtaz. In an interview with Bhawana Somaya in 1991, Rajesh spoke about working with Anju and how they behaved in a ‘juvenile’ way. “The two of us had a fight over something as a result of which both of us behaved extremely unprofessionally while shooting together. Every time I said my lines, she looked in the opposite direction, and every time she said her dialogues, I looked away. This continued throughout the schedule and the hassled producer was utterly confused as to what was happening and why. Nor did we, frankly. For, if we did, we wouldn’t have behaved in so juvenile a fashion. I know it all sounds foolish, but one cannot disassociate an incident from one’s life, just because it was foolish or childish…”

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Rajesh Khanna eventually married Dimple Kapadia in 1973.

First published on: 30-11-2022 at 15:40 IST
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