Satish Naik, who accompanied Rajesh Khanna when he visited Kochi in 1994, takes a trip down memory lane
While the nation mourns the loss of Hindi cinema’s most charmed superstar Rajesh Khanna, those in Kochi who had the privilege of meeting him or being acquainted with him are also feeling the loss.
One such person is Satish Naik, a Congress man, who had accompanied Rajesh Khanna when the actor-turned MP visited Kochi in 1994.
The occasion was a boat race held in memory of the then Chief Minister K Karunakaran’s wife Kalyanikkutty Amma. Khanna, of course was on good terms with Karunakaran, and when the request to inaugurate the race was made, the actor immediately agreed.
Naik was assigned with the task of inviting and taking care of Khanna during the trip.
“Kaka saab (as I called him) was very excited to be in Kerala. He didn’t let me change the Malayalam songs in the car. He asked us to stop at different places. He wanted to have tender coconut water and go boating,” Naik recollects.
“He stayed at Taj Residency and walked through Marine Drive. He gladly came to my house and ate chappati and salad,” says Naik.
“Kaka saab was not so keen to talk about movies. He was in politics then, and always politely enquired about Kerala and my family whenever I contacted him. He was more comfortable with Hindi, interspersed with Punjabi. He rarely spoke English,” Naik says.
Naik kept in touch with the actor, ringing him up occasionally. There was no contact for 16 years.
Naik went to Mumbai last month on a trip, and decided to meet the man who once carried so much charisma.
“I took with me some of our photos, so that the security would let me in. When I saw him, he was shrivelled up and very weak. He spoke very little, though he recognised me”, says Naik.
The news of Khanna’s death came to him through his daughter Madhumita. “I felt very sad,” he says. Now Naik plans to visit Mumbai again soon, and possibly to meet ‘Dimpleji’.