Rajesh Khanna was given a tearful adieu on Thursday by family, fans and film fraternity, as thousands of mourners thronged the streets in Mumbai under heavy rains to have a last glimpse of Bollywood’s first superstar during his final journey.
Amid poignant scenes, the 69-year-old star, who died on Wednesday at his “Aashirwad’ home, two days after he was discharged from Lilawati hospital, was cremated at the Pawan Hans crematorium in Juhu.
The last rites were performed by Khanna’s grandson Aarav, with father Akshay by his side.
Although the cause of Khanna’s death was not officially announced by the family or doctors at Lilawati hospital, those close to the actor hinted at a liver problem.
“He had liver infection. He had liver problem. He had stopped eating food as he couldn’t eat anything. During the last stage of his life, he was on liquid like juice,” Vijay Zaveri, Khanna’s close friend, told.
As admirers paid glowing tributes to Khanna, who was fondly called ‘Kaka’, there was chaos outside the crematorium with hundreds of people converging there and jostled with the police.
Slogans like “Rajesh Khanna amar rahe” rent the air while several mourners carried posters of the “King of Romance”, who acted in around 170 films, mainly in the lead role.
Many Bollywood personalities including Amitabh Bachchan, his son Abhishek, Manoj Kumar, Rani Mukherjee and Karan Johar turned up at the crematorium to pay their last respects.
The funeral procession of Khanna began from ‘Aashirwad’ on Carter Road in Bandra at around 10 AM with fans queuing up outside his home.
The cortege wound its way through the streets over a 10-km distance and it took about one hour to reach the crematorium.
The body of Khanna, kept in a glass coffin, was taken in an open truck, bedecked with white flowers.
His son-in-law and actor Akshay Kumar, estranged wife Dimple Kapadia and his younger daughter Rinkie Khanna stood on the truck.
The vehicle had huge black and white photographs of the actor on both its sides.