MUMBAI, July 18 � Bollywood�s original superstar Rajesh Khanna, who charmed his way into the hearts of millions of swooning female fans in the 1960s and 70s, died here today.
69-year-old Khanna, who shot to superstardom with the 1969 hit �Aradhana� opposite Sharmila Tagore, passed away at his home, two days after being discharged from Lilawati hospital. He had been ailing since April.
Though a romantic hero, Khanna essayed a variety of roles with ease in his illustrious career spanning four decades. His portrayal as a cancer patient in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee-film �Anand�(1971) in which he got the better of Amitabh Bachchan left many teary eyed.
Nicknamed �Kaka� by his adoring fans, he is survived by estranged actress wife Dimple Kapadia and daughters Twinkle and Rinkie, all of whom were by his side when his end came.
Khanna�s family as also Lilawati Hospital authorities were tightlipped about the nature of the actor�s illness.
�We cannot tell you about the nature of Khanna�s illness....Please get in touch with his family,� a spokesman for Lilawati who identified himself only as Dr Trivedi told PTI.
According to sources close to the family, the cremation will take place tomorrow.
Vijay, a close friend of Khanna who had been interacting with the media since his illness, said, �Kaka�s food intake had gone down over the last few days making him very weak.�
The news of Khanna�s death this afternoon spread like wildfire and hundreds of teary-eyed fans descended at his bungalow �Ashirwad� in Bandra.
�My father-in-law is no more. He has gone to a nice and heavenly place. I am happy that he has gone there and hope that everyone will pray for him,� his actor son-in-law Akshay Kumar told waiting reporters and fans outside �Ashirwad�.
Several Bollywood celebrities including actors Rishi Kapoor, Prem Chopra and filmmaker Sarid Khan visited Khanna�s home to pay homage to the actor.
The veteran actor, who lived a secluded life of late, recently appeared for a commercial, his face and eyes sunken. His real fans were shocked to see him a pale shadow of his former self.
During his illustrious career Khanna gave 15 consecutive solo superhits between 1969 and 1972 including �Aradhana�, �Haathi Mere Saathi�, �Anand� and �Amar Prem�. � PTI