Coimbatore’s love affair with actor

Superstar Rajesh Khanna, who passed away on Wednesday, might have nothing do with Coimbatore except that parts of his film Haathi Mere Saathi were shot here and produced by Coimbatorean M.M.A. Chinnappa Devar under the banner Devar Films.
But, the hero of the evergreen song Mere Sapno Ki Rani sure did become the Sapno Ka Raja of many yesteryear girls out here as is obvious by the fact that the name “Rajesh” became so popular in the textile town during the late ’60s and early ’70s, when Rajesh Khanna was at his peak.
City-based heritage lover and a member of Intach, Mr Rajesh Govindarajulu, points out that several 40-year-olds in the city share his first name mainly due to the city’s love for Rajesh Khanna. “At least three prominent families here have males whose first name is Rajesh, including mine, and all of them are in their early 40s,” remarks Mr Govindarajulu, whose great grandfather Raju Chettiar was a popular jeweller here back then.
Businessman Arvind Shah, an old-timer and family friend of the Khannas, points out that the actor was extremely popular in the city and a casual perusal of the telephone directory would reveal Coimbatore’s adoration of Rajesh Khanna. “So many Gujarathis and even other community members named their sons Rajesh. Until then, Rajeshs and Rajivs (named after Rajiv Gandhi) were not so common here,” says Mr Shah.

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