Veteran Bollywood actor Rajesh Khanna has passed away, family sources have confirmed, at the age of 69. The actor had been ailing for some time now and was twice admitted to the Lilavati Hospital, in the Indian city of Mumbai, over the last month alone. The actor was suffering from complications due to low blood pressure and breathed his last at his residence in the suburb of Bandra, surrounded by family members.
Khanna, an actor-turned-politician, made his mark with roles in cult films like Anand (1971) and Amar Prem (1972). He is survived by his estranged wife, actress Dimple Kapadia, and two daughters - Twinkle Khanna (an actress-turned-interior designer, who is married to another Bollywood star Akshay Kumar) and Rinke Khanna, who is also a former actress. Khanna married Dimple Kapadia, who is 15 years his junior in 1973.
The actor, fondly called Kaka, often hailed as the first true superstar of Bollywood would have turned 70 on 29 December. He acted in several classic films between 1969 and 1972. These included Aradhana and Haathi Mere Saathi. His roles saw him paired opposite some of the leading actresses of his time, including Sharmila Tagore and Asha Parekh. Khanna won three Filmfare Awards (the Indian equivalent of the Academy Awards) for Best Actor and received a staggering 14 nominations. He was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
The actor's family has yet to make any further comments but a top former actress in Bollywood Madhuri Dixit Nene was quick to offer her condolences on Twitter.
"Another of Hindi cinema's giants passes, Rajesh Khanna. Our sincere condolences to his family. We will miss him dearly," the actress tweeted. Meanwhile, Indian media houses were also quick to offer their messages of support.
"Team Doordarshan expresses deepest condolences on passing away of Rajesh Khanna Bollywood's 1st superstar, he will be always remembered for his remarkable work and achievements, RIP Rajesh Khanna," the country's public service broadcaster, Doordarshan National (DD1), posted on its Facebook page.
The funeral services will reportedly be held at 11 am (local time) on Thursday morning, in Mumbai, according to a report by the Hindustan Times.