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Bollywood's first superstar Rajesh Khanna breathed his last today at his residence in Mumbai. Khanna, 69, is survived by his estranged wife Dimple Kapadia and two daughters Twinkle and Rinke. The veteran actor's last rites would be performed tomorrow.

Khanna was last admitted to Mumbai's Lilavati hospital for low blood pressure, but was discharged yesterday and had been at his Mumbai residence since then. He was diagnosed of kidney problems earlier, on 24 June, and was admitted to a hospital.

The actor came to be known as India's first superstar after he delivered 15 consecutive solo superhits between 1969 and 1972, a record that remains unbroken.

"Very few actors can match the charisma, stardom and popularity that Rajesh Khanna enjoyed. His era initiated the wave of superstardom in the Indian film industry, a concept, which was unknown till then. Rajesh Khanna gave Indian cinema a whiff of fresh air by projecting the essence of goodness and romance in the various characters that he portrayed.

His films provided us melodious music and haunting melodies, which became a part of the generational change of the 1970s. The Indian film industry has lost one of its iconic personalities who gave a new identity to the male protagonist in films," minister of information and broadcasting Ambika Soni wrote in her condolence message to the members of the bereaved family.

The Bollywood industry expressed grief at the passing away of its first superstar. Actress Saira Banu said it was a terrible day for the industry and Sharmila Tagore, his co-star in many films, said he was an amazing actor.

Actress Neha Dhupia tweeted, "RIP Rajesh khanna Saab ... U, ur stardom, ur magic will live forever!" (sic)

Khanna's rise to Bollywood superstardom seemed to be one, straight out of a movie. As a struggling actor in Mumbai, he won the All India Talent Contest organised in association with Filmfare in 1965, beating over 10,000 contestants.

Though his first break followed soon, in Chetan Anand's 'Akhri Khat' in 1966, and later starred in a few films, including Asit Sen's 'Khamoshi', it was his double role in 'Aradhana' in 1969 opposite Sharmila Tagore that saw the rise of the new star.

He went to consolidate his superstardom with films like 'Kati Patang', 'Safar', 'Ittefaq', 'Aan Milo Sajna' and 'Haathi Mere Saathie'. During this phase, Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 'Anand' remained one of the actor\'s most memorable performances and Khanna, music composer RD Burman and singer Kishore Kumar were a most sought after team in the early 70s.

He married actress Dimple at the height of his success in 1973, but they separated a few years later.
He also did a number of highly successful films with several leading ladies, including Sharmila Tagore, Asha Parekh and Mumtaz.

Though Khanna's popularity ebbed with the rise of the angry young man - Amitabh Bachchan - the star continued to deliver hits well into the 1980s with films like 'Souten', 'Dharam Kanta' and 'Maqsad'. He later switched to playing older and character roles and enjoyed box-office success with 'Avatar' and 'Swarg'.

In the 1990s he joined politics and won the 1992 by-elections on a Congress ticket from Delhi.

Kaka, as Rajesh Khanna was popularly known, was among the highest paid actors of his time.

In the seventies, from 1970 to 1979, he starred in mega hits like 'Safar', 'Kati Patang', 'Sachaa Jhutha', 'Aan Milo Sajna', 'Anand', 'Amar Prem' and 'Mere Jeevan Saathi'.

During the golden run from Aradhana in 1969 to Prem Kahani in 1975, Rajesh enjoyed a status never rivaled since or before, and his charisma won hearts like none before. He had a certain way of connecting with the crowds, and his trademark dialogue delivery, crinkling of his eyes and that rakish head tilt that were all his own, endeared him to one and all.

The real man behind the star was born Jatin Arora, on 29 December 1942, and was raised by foster parents. Jatin went on to become Rajesh thanks to his uncle who changed his name when he decided to join films.

In his four-decade career, he appeared in about 160 films, in 106 of which he played the solo lead hero while 22 were two hero projects.

Khanna proved his mettle in offbeat films too, teaming up with Hrishikesh Mukherjee for the critically acclaimed 'Bawarchi' and 'Namak Haram'. The eternal romantic that he was he also assayed a fine performance in 'Avishkar', directed by Basu Bhattacharya.

Khanna once again faced the camera for an ad a few months before his death, and though he seemed clearly unwell, his voice still retained the richness with which, he intoned "Babumoshai" from his much loved film "Anand".

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