Late actor Rajesh Khanna, often referred to as the “first superstar” of Indian cinema, is considered one of the greatest and most successful actors of Bollywood. At the peak of his acting career, he enjoyed a massive fan following. However, Naseeruddin Shah had a different opinion, which irked Twinkle Khanna once.
For the unversed, Naseeruddin is widely regarded as one of the finest actors in the Hindi film industry. He has been associated with both mainstream and parallel cinema, earning accolades for his versatility and nuanced portrayals. He is also known for his outspoken nature.
As reported by India Today, Naseeruddin Shah told a leading daily, “It was the 1970s when mediocrity came in Hindi films. That’s when the actor called Rajesh Khanna joined the industry. For all his success, I think Mr. Khanna was a very limited actor. In fact, he was a poor actor. Intellectually, he wasn’t the most alert person I have ever met. His taste ruled the industry.”
As Naseeruddin Shah explored the dynamics of that era, the seasoned actor expressed his critique of the film industry’s shift away from content-driven narratives in the 1970s. According to him, writing, acting, music, and lyrics seemed to have fallen below the expected standards, with movies increasingly favoring superficial elements over substantial storytelling. Shah specifically highlighted the introduction of color in films, suggesting that the emphasis on aesthetics over substance became a persistent pattern. In implying Rajesh Khanna’s influence as a dominant figure of that time, Shah suggested a potential role in shaping this trend.
Naseeruddin Shah’s comments triggered a substantial response, as the entire Bollywood community came together in defense of the late Rajesh Khanna. Dimple Kapadia, Rajesh Khanna’s wife, delivered a fitting reply to Shah’s criticism, highlighting her husband’s extraordinary career and lasting legacy. She emphasized Khanna’s significant contributions to Hindi cinema, urging everyone to honor his memory.
Twinkle Khanna also voiced her disagreement on Twitter, expressing disapproval of the National Award-winning actor’s unwarranted remarks about her father. She wrote, “Sir, if you can’t respect the living, respect the dead — mediocrity is attacking a man who can’t respond to Naseeruddin Shah.”
— Twinkle Khanna (@mrsfunnybones) July 23, 2016
Following the controversy, Naseeruddin Shah issued an apology for his remarks, clarifying that he did not intend to disparage the late actor’s legacy. Despite the apology, his outspoken and opinionated demeanor continues to ignite discussions and debates within the industry, underscoring the diverse perspectives that exist in Bollywood.
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