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Bollywood's First Superstar Dies AP

The Indian actor who became the first Bollywood superstar after a string of successful performances as a romantic lead has died, the Associated Press reports. Rajesh Khanna, 69, died following a brief illness.

Khanna died at his home in Mumbai with his wife, actress Dimple Kapadia, and his two daughters at his side, the story reports.

“Khanna began his career in the mid-1960s in romantic films that were hugely popular. He played the lead role in some 120 of the 170 movies in which he appeared and won scores of awards,” the story reports. “His enormous success was a new phenomenon in India. Screaming fans surrounded him whenever he appeared in public. Women married his photograph and wrote him letters in their blood proposing marriage.”

Khanna appeared in 15 consecutive movies that set sales records in the 1970s, the report notes.

The article adds: “After a nearly three-decade reign in Bollywood, Khanna saw his popularity dim when action films became the rage and younger stars rose to the top. His fall was swift as Khanna turned to alcohol and for the last few years of his life, he became almost a recluse.”

rajesh-khanna.jpgRajesh Khanna