Article Hindi

10 Rajesh Khanna romantic ballads – Birth anniversary special

On the 75th birth anniversary of perhaps Hindi cinema's greatest lover, we listen to 10 songs that redefined romance, Rajesh Khanna-style.

Shriram Iyengar

His charm was unsurpassed. His smile could break a thousand hearts. Four decades since he reigned over Hindi cinema as its first superstar and five years after his death, Rajesh Khanna's unique combination of charm, style and grace remain unmatched.

From the time he made his debut in Chetan Anand's Aakhri Khat (1966), the actor, who was born Jatin Khanna, developed an image and a persona that went on to dominate Hindi cinema in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

On his 75th birth anniversary, we look back at 10 wonderful romantic numbers that truly capture the charm and vivacity of the phenomenon known as Rajesh Khanna.

1. 'Woh Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi' — Khamoshi (1969)

In his early years, Rajesh Khanna was not the carefree, smiling romantic that he was to become. In Asit Sen's Khamoshi (1969), he played a mental patient to whom his nurse (played by Waheeda Rehman) is attracted. The film had a fantastic soundtrack by Hemant Kumar, but this wonderfully serene number, sung by Kishore Kumar, stood out. Wearing a turtleneck to add to his style, Khanna played the pained poet who would become the muse of many.

2. 'Mere Sapnon Ki Rani' — Aradhana (1969)

As far as romantic classics go, nothing beats this Kishore Kumar number from Aradhana (1969). Riding in a Jeep chasing the train that carries his lady love, Rajesh Khanna cut a dashing figure. Be it his sly looks, his winsome smile or the devil-may-care attitude with which he prances in the open-top vehicle, the actor delivered a sign of the hero who would win the hearts of a million women across the subcontinent.

3. 'Chup Gaye Saare Nazaare' — Do Raaste (1969)

With the release of Aradhana, Rajesh Khanna had become a star. Do Raaste featured him and Mumtaz, and they went on to become an iconic pair of the early 1970s. This song had the two romancing to the voices of Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar. The soundtrack by Laxmikant-Pyarelal earned the music director duo a nomination for Best Music at the Filmfare awards that year. 

4. 'Jeevan Se Bhari' — Safar (1970)

It was his sensitivity that made the actor such a sought-after personality. It was strange, indeed, that the thoroughbred Punjabi often played sensitive, shy heroes, including in this Asit Sen film where he was paired, again, with Sharmila Tagore. This composition by Kalyanji-Anandji, containing lyrics by Indivar, remains a beautiful work of poetry brought to life by the soft expressions of Khanna's face.

5. 'Yunhi Tum Mujhse Baat Karti Ho' — Sachaa Jhutha (1970) 

He might have played shy characters, but when it came to turning on the charm, few could compete with Rajesh Khanna. In Sachaa Jhutha (1970), he played contrasting twins with very different personalities. This Kalyanji-Anandji number was typical of the sheer charm that the star possessed. With his hair flying in the wind and a scarf tied around his neck, he charmed the feet off Mumtaz.

6. 'Pyaar Deewana Hota Hai' — Kati Patang (1970) 

In an age when the piano was still the perfect instrument to woo your lady with, Rajesh Khanna set the keys on fire in this Shakti Samanta film. With RD Burman providing the music, and Kishore Kumar singing, little could go wrong. The film won for Asha Parekh the Best Actress award at the Filmfares, but it was Khanna who stood tall on the billboards across the country.

7. 'Chingari Koi Bhadke' — Amar Prem (1972)

Amar Prem saw Rajesh Khanna at his peak, an actor in control of his craft, a star at the height of his popularity. The Shakti Samanta film was enhanced by RD Burman's immaculate score and Kishore Kumar's peerless voice. But its highlight was Khanna's portrayal of a tragic but empathetic human who loves with all his heart. Though by nature a sad tune, 'Chingari Koi Bhadke' is also a wonderful romantic ballad that talks about the unending nature of love. And who better to personify it on screen than Rajesh Khanna?

8. 'O Mere Dil Ke Chain' — Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972) 

This was another RD Burman-Rajesh Khanna combination as the two slalomed with songs like 'Chala Jaata Hoon', 'Deewana Leke Aaya Hai' and 'Mere Jeevan Saathi'. But this subtle, jazzy number was the real heartstealer. With a hero in the prime of his seductive form, RD Burman added a delectable touch that became his signature, the trumpet and guitar rhythms, to his track. It remains one of the most popular Rajesh Khanna, and Kishore Kumar, numbers ever.

9. 'Mere Dil Mein Aaj Kya Hai' — Daag (1973) 

When it comes to moustaches, there have been few leading men in Hindi cinema who could really carry the look well. Rajesh Khanna was not one of them. Despite the facial hair folly, however, the actor was peerless in this wonderfully romantic number composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Again, it was the combination of Sharmila Tagore and Rajesh Khanna that ensured the film was a winner. The song earned lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi a nomination for Best Lyricist at the Filmfare awards in 1974.

10. 'Karwatein Badalte Rahe' — Aap Ki Kasam (1974) 

While 10 might not be a sufficient number to capture every romantic song picturized on the superstar, this seems to be a good one to finish the list with. Shot in the snow, with Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz, 'Karwatein Badalte Rahe' was among the most popular songs of 1974, pipped only by 'Jai Jai Shiv Shankar' from the same film. Composed by RD Burman and sung by the inimitable Kishore Kumar, the song is a lasting symbol of the romance that Rajesh Khanna embodied.