Rajesh Khanna’s iconic bungalow moves on

Murali Gopalan Mumbai | Updated on July 25, 2014 Published on July 25, 2014

'Aashirwad' - Rajesh Khanna's Carter Road bungalow.   -  PTI

It was sometime in end-June 2012 when reports began doing the rounds that Rajesh Khanna was dying. As crowds began to gather outside his iconic bungalow, Aashirwad, the former superstar emerged on the balcony with his wife, Dimple, and son-in-law, Akshay Kumar.

He looked very ill but still waved out flashing the victory sign to indicate all was well and that there was no cause for concern.

Khanna died less than a month later in his beloved sea-facing bungalow on Bandra’s Carter Road. This was the nerve centre through the ‘70s for fans who would wait patiently for hours just to have a glimpse of Khanna.

It was the period when he was the undisputed monarch of the box-office and unleashed a level of hysteria across the country that has never been witnessed since.

Aashirwad remained one of the most famous landmarks of Mumbai even when Khanna had virtually stopped acting. It was rechristened Vardan Aashirwad after his death and on Friday came the news that the bungalow had been sold.

For such prime property, the price was rather modest at Rs 90 crore but perhaps this also had to do with the rumour that it was haunted!

For diehard Khanna fans, though, the sale of Aashirwad marks the end of a chapter in Hindi cinema. Sure, it is two years since his passing but the bungalow was still around for all to see.

Nobody knows if the new owner will demolish it and have fancy apartments come up on the same spot. And to think Khanna was keen on converting this bungalow into a museum.

Aashirwad was clearly very dear to the late superstar. He had bought it in the early ‘70s from Rajendra Kumar and the film that helped fund this deal was Haathi Mere Saathi. Khanna had received a handsome signing amount from its producer, Chinappa Devar, but was not too happy with the script.

Yet, he was only too aware the money would help him buy the bungalow and this is when he asked the screenplay writer duo, Salim-Javed, to rework the script. Haathi Mere Saathi turned out to become the biggest grosser of ’71 and Aashirwad emerged Khanna’s lucky mascot.

As each of his films struck gold at the box-office and his superstardom status grew to giddy heights, the crowds outside the bungalow literally swelled by the day.

When the BBC sent its reporter, Jack Pizzey, to profile Khanna in the documentary, Bombay Superstar, in ’73, he was granted access to Aashirwad.

There are shots of a recently married Dimple excited about her husband’s premiere of Daag and Bombay Superstar has some fleeting shots of the bungalow’s interiors. Khanna and Dimple are readying themselves for the premiere and these moments make interesting viewing as they drive out of Aashirwad.

Like Khanna’s career, the bungalow also went through a rollercoaster ride.

The Income Tax authorities once had it attached to recover dues from the actor but it was not too long before these were settled and Khanna got back his precious asset.

Aashirwad carried on after its owner’s death in 2012 and it now remains to be seen what lies in store for this famous landmark.

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Published on July 25, 2014
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