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Rajesh Khanna passes away

MUMBAI: Rajesh Khanna is no more after being critically ill from last few months.

He breathed his last in the presence of his ex-wife Dimple Kapadia, daughters Rinkie and Twinkle, son-in-law Akshay Kumar, grand children and close relatives.

From the dizzying heights of fame to quiet shadows behind the arclights, Rajesh Khanna's life had a theatrical sweep, almost like one of his films.

In an era long before this age of instant connect of mobile phones and Internet, Rajesh Khanna was the man who sparked a frenzy never seen before and never since, not even by the likes of Amitabh Bachchan.

His very name spelt magic in the 1970s. He sparked hysteria, particularly amongst his legions of women fans, who would line the road for a glimpse, chant his name, cover his car with lipstick marks and even write him letters in blood. They got married to his photograph, cut their finger, let the blood flow and applied 'sindoor'.

Truly, "O mere di ke chain"!

Kaka, as he was popularly known, was one of the highest paid actors of his time, his record of consecutive solo super hits still unbroken. Who can forget the years between 1970-1979 when he starred in mega hits like "Safar", "Kati Patang", "Sachaa Jhutha", "Aan Milo Sajna", "Anand", "Amar Prem" and "Mere Jeevan Saathi". Ever the urbane, suave romantic who wooed like few others.

Glory and fame galore came his way with the two 1969 films - "Aradhana" and "Do Raaste" - where he teamed up with two of his best co-stars, Sharmila Tagore and Mumtaz, respectively. Both the films were super hits. Hindi film's first superstar was born.

Between "Aradhana" in 1969 and "Prem Kahani" in 1975, Rajesh enjoyed god-like status.

It was all about charisma - a certain something that went beyond the art of acting. He had that unique way of delivering a dialogue, of crinkling his eyes and that interesting head tilt that were all his own - and designed to get fans swooning.

Describing the charm of Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh once said: "I got famous purely because I was working with Rajesh Khanna in 'Anand'. People asked me questions like, 'How is he to look at? What does he do?'"

The mega story had a small beginning in Amritsar. Born Jatin Arora on Dec 29, 1942, he was adopted and raised by foster parents.

He went from being Jatin to Rajesh, thanks to his uncle who changed his name, when he decided to join films.

In 1965, the journey to filmdom started after he won the All-India Talent Contest organised by United Producers and Filmfare. He made his debut with "Aakhri Khat" in 1966.

It was a fairly easy road to superstardom after that.

He became the heartthrob of the nation, singing timeless melodies like "Mere Sapnon Ki Rani..." in "Aradhana", "Zindagi Ek Safar" in "Andaaz" or "Yeh Shaam Mastani" in "Kati Patang". Singer Kishore Kumar and composer R.D. Burman were amongst his closest friends.

In his four-decade career, he appeared in about 160 films, of which 106 had him as the solo lead hero and 22 were two hero projects.

Rajesh proved his mettle in offbeat films too. He teamed up with Hrishikesh Mukherjee for the critically acclaimed "Bawarchi" and "Namak Haram". The quintessential romantic also did the intense "Avishkar", directed by Basu Bhattacharya.

But then age caught up and the star began fading away.

He moved to television and played the main lead in two serials - "Ittefaque" and "Apne Paraye" during 2001-02 and also featured in "Raghukul Reet Sada Chali Aayi" between 2008-09.

The decline to B-grade films was inevitable. There was also the sorry "Wafa" with Laila Khan, who was found murdered this July.

He dabbled in politics, being Congress MP from the New Delhi constituency from 1991-1996.

Like the Hollywood legends of yore, the personal life also had a larger than life dimension.

He fell in love with Dimple Kapadia, who was only 16 and whose first film "Bobby" was yet to release. She was 15 years younger to him but the pull was strong and they got married after a whirlwind romance in 1973.

It was the stuff of tabloid headlines. They had two daughters Twinkle and Rinke. The marriage lasted only 11 years.

It was a lonely life for Rajesh after that. He disappeared from the headlines and appeared to be a shadow of his former self in his rare public appearances.

But the family came together in his last days. His estranged wife was the one who took care of him during his illness. Son-in-law Akshay Kumar was also a great comfort.

Rajesh reappeared in an ad a few months before his death, and once again became the talk of town — he was clearly unwell but the zest in his voice was intact as he intoned "Babumoshai" from his much-loved film "Anand".

Like Anand from the film, the man is gone. But the memories will live on. —IANS



Will share probe details with India: US

Washington/Dubai: The United States has said it will share with India transparently the results of its probe into the naval ship shooting incident that killed an Indian fisherman in UAE waters, even as the survivors disputed the Pentagon’s claim that they were forewarned.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little had insisted that the naval ship had issued several warnings to the fishing boat in the Persian Gulf before it fired shots that killed an Indian fisherman and injured three others.

State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell, meanwhile, said the Department of Defence was conducting an investigation into the incident that has earlier been described as regrettable.

”... And we, of course, will work with our Indian counterparts and be as transparent as possible to provide them the results of our investigation once it’s finished,” Mr. Ventrell said in response to a question.

He said the Pentagon which is probing the matter will be in touch with the Indian officials.

The incident happened on Monday when a small fishing boat carrying six people — four Indians and two Emiratis — was fired upon by a security team onboard the US Navy vessel.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna termed the killing as “unfortunate” and said his ministry was in touch with its Ambassador in UAE, M K Lokesh, who has raised the issue with the UAE government.

Lokesh, on his part, disputed American claims and said the survivors’ account differs from that provided by the US Navy.

“According to the survivors, there were no warnings given to them,” Lokesh told PTI in Dubai.

“There are many versions of the incident. We have to wait for the details to emerge,” the ambassador said. 

Little had said that the USNS Rappahannock had escalated warning measures in response to a “potential threat” posed by the vessel.

“Based on what we know now, a series of warning measures were issued to the oncoming vessel. Those warnings were not heeded, and the vessel was fired upon,” Mr. Little told reporters.

The fisherman who died was identified as Sekar of Periyapattinam in Ramanathapuram district. The injured — Muthu Muniraj (28), Muthu Kannan (35) and Pandu Sanadhan (26) — too hailed from Tamil Nadu.

“We certainly regret the loss of life in this incident.

There were in fact warning measures that were taken, based on what we know now. This is under investigation and we’ll know the full facts of this incident once that investigation is complete,” Little said. — PTI




Ansari files nomination papers for Vice-Presidential poll 

NEW DELHI: UPA’s Vice-Presidential candidate Hamid Ansari filed his nomination papers here on Wednesday for the August seven poll in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and leaders of the ruling coalition.

75-year-old Ansari, who is set to become the second person to get two consecutive terms as Vice—President, filed his nomination papers before Lok Sabha Secretary General T K Vishwanathan, who is the Returning Officer for the poll.

Sonia Gandhi, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Congress MP Motilal Vora and BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra submitted one set of papers each to Vishwanathan in support of Ansari’s candidature. Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and leaders of other ruling coalition were also present.

Soon after filing his nomination papers, Ansari thanked UPA and its partners for supporting his candidature. “I am very grateful to all the leaders who have come here to attend this function, for supporting my nomination and for sponsoring me,” he told reporters.

He was greeted by MPs from Congress and UPA partners. No TMC MP was present when Ansari filed his papers.

The Prime Minister said, “We are all very delighted that there is such a massive support for re-nomination of Hamid Ansari for the august office of Vice President.” 

Mr. Ansari was received by the Prime Minister, the Congress President and other leaders in the lobby of Parliament since he holds the office of Vice President and they accompanied him to the Lok Sabha Secretary General’s office. — PTI


Yuvraj Singh named in India's World T20 preliminary squad

NEW DELHI: Yuvraj Singh, who has started training after recuperating from a rare germ cell cancer, was on Wednesday named in India's 30-member list of probables for the September-October World Twenty20 Championships in Sri Lanka. 

Seasoned off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, 32, who has been on the sidelines for a quite some time due to poor form, has also been included in the squad. 

A few promising youngsters such as all-rounder Mandeep Singh and wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha and domestic veterans such as batsman Ambati Rayudu were picked in the list announced by the BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale. 

Pacer Laxmipathy Balaji, who last played an international match in 2009, was also part of the provisional list which will be pruned to a 15-member squad at a later stage. 

Yuvraj, who started practicing in Bangalore's National Cricket Academy after undergoing chemotherapy in the United States earlier this year, was targetting a return to international cricket with the World Twenty20 Championships. 

In the T20 format, he is best remembered for his astonishing six sixes off one Stuart Broad over at the 2007 edition of the mega-event. 

The 30-year-old Yuvraj was expected to make the cut at least in the preliminary list given that the selectors were themselves keen on having the flamboyant left-hander back in the squad. 

"I think a guy who has won the World Cup for us deserves to come back," chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth had stated. 

Surprise picks in the squad are long-forgotten Balaji, who has not played any Twenty20 for the national team. In fact, Balaji's last ODI appearance for the country was back in 2009 against Sri Lanka. 

The rest of the squad features players who have been in and out of the team on a rotational basis. 

Youngsters in the line-up include batsman Ajinkya Rahane, who would be filling up for Sachin Tendulkar in the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka. Shikhar Dhawan, who endured an indifferent tour of the West Indies with the India A squad, has also been included. 

The IPL effect was there to be seen in the squad with the selectors including 20-year-old all-rounder Mandeep Singh in the squad. 

The Kings XI Punjab player, who is a former under-19 captain, has been rewarded for his fine performance for Kings XI in the IPL. 

Rayudu has also got in on the merit of his consistent IPL performances for Mumbai Indians. 

Regular stars such as Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan have been expectedly included. 

The squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, R. Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Umesh Yadav, Ashok Dinda, Ajinkya Rahane, Manoj Tiwary, Rahul Sharma, Vinay Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan, Mandeep Singh, Piyush Chawla, Ravindra Jadeja, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel, Naman Ojha, Dinesh Karthik, Praveen Kumar, L Balaji. — PTI




Obama names new ambassadors to Afghanistan, Pakistan

Washington: US President Barack Obama has nominated two veteran diplomats to be the US ambassadors to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Almost two month after the incumbents resigned, Obama nominated James B Cunningham as the new US Ambassador to Afghanistan; and Richard G Olson as the new envoy to Pakistan.

However, both need to be confirmed by the United States Senate before they can be sworn in for their new Ambassadorial postings.

The yesterday's move comes at a time of transition in war-torn Afghanistan and Washington's ongoing friction with Pakistan.

"I am grateful that these talented and dedicated men and women have agreed to take on these important roles and devote their talents to serving the American people. I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years," Obama said in a statement as he announced more than a dozen key administration posts including these two diplomatic positions.





2G: Late Pramod Mahajan’s name likely in chargesheet

New Delhi: The BJP may have fought to steer clear of the 2G taint but if news reports are to go by then the party will have plenty to explain on the telecom policy employed by the NDA government.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will soon file a chargesheet against three private telecom companies —Bharti Airtel, Hutchison Essar (now Vodafone) and Sterling Cellular— over alleged irregularities in the allocation of telecom spectrum, a report claimed on Wednesday.

As per a media report, the agency will also name late BJP stalwart Pramod Mahajan in a separate column of the chargesheet for his alleged role over the irregularities in allocation of additional 2G spectrum to these companies during his tenure as the telecom minister (in the NDA government between 2001 and 2003).

Besides Mahajan, retired government officials - former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh and former director of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited J R Gupta would figure in the CBI chargesheet.

Meanwhile, after nearly 19 months of its preliminary enquiry into telecom spectrum allocation during 2001-07, the CBI yesterday closed the probe pertaining to the period when Arun Shourie was the telecom minister.

CBI sources said the documents related to tenure of Shourie and his examination during the probe has not revealed any irregularity.Back




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