Although unfairly labelled as the ‘lucky-hero” because of his undisputed ability to give hits after hits in the 60s. and part of the 70s, Rajendra Kumar was undoubtedly one of the most romantic heroes in the pre- Rajesh Khanna era, despite the presence of the big four.
He had an innate honesty which exuded his uprightness as evident in Kanoon wherein he had the unenviable task of testifying in court against his future father in law, as well as the romantic aura of a love-lorn lover in Mere Mehboob, Palki etc. Paradoxically his decent lover image was at variance with his eve-teasing lothario songs in Hamrahi, Sasural, Aaye Milan Ki Bela, Suraj, Aarzoo, etc. He had the confidence of repeatedly sharing screen space with the
He had the confidence of repeatedly sharing screen space with the scene-stealing Raaj Kumar in film after film, an act which even acknowledged thespian Dilip Kumar was averse to, after being eclipsed by the latter in Paigham. My only grouse with Rajendra Kumar was that in Aayee Milan Ki Bela he upstaged Dharmendra by winning the heroine’s hand–something that at age I was unable to digest at age 16. Nevertheless, he remains one of my favourites. His natural emotion-choked voice was a great asset in preventing him from resorting to over-acting despite being compared unfavourably with his mentor.
Here’s my favourite Rajendra Kumar song with my favourite female star Waheeda Rehman romancing on the neighbouring terraces of their humble daulatkhaanas–tuned so beautifully by Nawab Naushad in Yaman Kalyan.
(This essay was written on 18th July 2016)
Intellectually inclined Ashoke Mahtani loves to call a spade a spade. He was educated at Lucknow and lives in Kolkata.