Alright..I admit the title of the post is a bit presumptuous. But, how else should I describe that fleeting moment when I witnessed 'The Phenomenon?"
Two years ago I was at the inauguration of Pune International Film Festival. While all other celebrities trooped in, the programme wouldn't begin. Rajesh Khanna was yet to come.
I was silently chaffing and cursing when a flurry of movement near the entry door caught my attention. Rajesh Khanna walked in, attired in white kurta-pyjama and a shawl draped around his shoulders. Before sitting, he did "Namaste" to the crowd and smiled. The thunderous applause which greeted him gave me goosebumps and his smile made my heart somersault. That one moment told me why my mother and all the assorted aunties her age went gaga over him.
I had seen his movies, sure. Several times. I loved the songs he lip synced to. But, I never could imagine that the girls got married to his photograph, or his car was covered with lipstick smears. I thought that was my mother's penchant for exaggeration.
But, that day in Bal Gandharva auditorium, when he smiled, I knew that it wasn't exaggeration. That smile was perhaps a polite smile, not even directed at me, I was one of the crowd, but it made me feel special.
Up on the stage, when Suresh Kalmadi revealed to the audience and celebrities, that the photo which his then fiancee carried in her purse was not his (Kalmadi) but HIS (pointing to Rajesh Khanna), the audience smiled and cheered, while Khanna blushed and turned pink.
That gave me goosebumps again. That was my Rajesh Khanna moment, who managed to touch me even without meeting me. I guess others in the audience would have felt the same. Perhaps even more.