July 19, 2012 4:07 AM EST
Rajesh Khanna Dies: Best Images Of Bollywood's First Superstar [PHOTOS]
Indian actor Rajesh Khanna, who starred in more than 160 films over the course of his 46-year career, died at his family home in Mumbai on Wednesday. He was 69.
Khanna made a name for himself in the 1960s and 1970s just as Bollywood was coming into its own; during his heyday, he was often cast as the romantic lead. Of his 163 total films, he was the lead protagonist in 128 of them.
Rajesh Khanna's lengthy film credits only speak to the man's talent as an actor. Khanna was the recipient of many awards and honors: He won three Filmfare Best Actor Awards, the Filmfare Special Award, which is rewarded to those who complete 25 years in the film industry, and the coveted Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award, which he received in 2005. Khanna was nominated more than 40 times in his career, and was often referred to as the "First Superstar" of Bollywood.
Khanna, whom his friends and wife called "Kaka," broke into cinema in the mid-1960s as one of eight finalists in the 1965 All India Talent Contest. Khanna eventually emerged as the winner out of more than 10,000 total contestants. His first film was released a year later: "Aakhri Khat," which translates to "The Last Letter."
Khanna's fame peaked around the mid-1970s, when fans would mob him wherever he went in public. According to the book "Icons From Bollywood," Khanna's car would often be covered in lipstick as a result of female fans attempting to kiss his car as he drove by. Female fans would stand in the road and chant his name; they even sent h im letters written in their own blood.
Khanna's fame took a turn towards the end of the 70s, but rebounded again in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, starring in several critically-acclaimed and commercially successful films.
Later in his life, Khanna got into the politics game, winning an election in 1992 to become a member of Parliament for the Congress Party (from the New Delhi constituency). Khanna remained in Parliament until 1996, after which he became a political activist for the Congress Party. Khanna helped campaign for Congress in Punjab for the 2012 Parliament elections.
Khanna's health had reportedly been deteriorating over time, but things took a turn for the worse in mid-June, when he was admitted to the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai. The health conditions were unknown, and all seemed fine when he was discharged about two weeks later from the hospital. But six days later after leaving the hospital, he was readmitted after complaining of kidney problems, and subsequently discharged three days later on Tuesday.
We've assembled a handful of photos that explore the spectacular lifetime of Rajesh Khanna. Please enjoy the photos and leave your thoughts and rememberances of Rajesh Khanna in the comments section below.