Shining star

Man With the Enchanting Nod

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Rajesh Khanna, Bollywood superstar of the 1960s and 1970s, who has been away from the public glare for a long time and was last seen in the 2008 film Wafa: A Deadly Love Story, is back in front of the camera. This time he makes his debut in a television commercial for Havell’s fans. But what hits you in the commercial is not the product, but Khanna’s poor health. ‘Kaka’ is a shadow of his former upbeat self. Gaunt, frail and bearded, he looks older than his 69 years. He looks worse in a video that shows the making of the TV commercial. People have to help him put on his coat, and when he is interviewed, his voice is so weak it is almost inaudible. R Balki, who directed and conceptualised the advertisement, says Khanna was doing relatively alright. The problem was not the major illness he is reportedly suffering, but a leg fracture that he had after a nasty fall at home. Says Balki, “We had to delay the shoot (which was completed in one day at Koramangala Indoor Stadium, Bangalore) for 10 days after Mr Khanna fractured his leg. We were afraid that because of his leg, he might not be up to much strain. But he walked about and was sporting. On our request, he even tilted his head and smiled like he used to in his films.”