Islamabad, Jul 18: People across Pakistan today mourned the death of Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna, with Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf describing him as a “great actor” and others taking to social networking websites to pay tribute to the romantic hero.
In a special message, Prime Minister Ashraf conveyed his condolences at the death of Khanna. He said Khanna was “a great actor whose contribution to the field of films and arts would be long remembered.”
Ashraf said Khanna had a “large fan following across the borders and captivated audiences with his excellent acting skills.” He said he shared the grief of the bereaved family.
Most TV news channels led their bulletins with extensive reports on Khanna's death in Mumbai at the age of 69 after a prolonged illness.
The reports featured songs and clips from Khanna's many hit films, which were equally popular across the border in Pakistan.
Geo News channel, Pakistan's most watched news channel, aired a nearly hour-long tribute to Khanna - including contributions from actors, filmmakers and musicians - within hours of the death of the superstar.
Singer and actor Ali Zafar wrote on Twitter, “Rajesh Khanna - RIP. So many fond memories from his movies and songs.”
Leading actor and filmmaker Syed Noor told the media, “Rajesh Khanna was such a huge actor of the subcontinent that he will be remembered by the people for many years to come. The era he reigned over is unlikely to be experienced by any other actor of this subcontinent.”
Actress Meera, in a message posted on Twitter, wrote, “Rajesh Khanna was (a) great legend, it is a big loss for the film industry.”
Acclaimed writer Mohammed Hanif, like countless other Pakistanis, posted links to hit songs from Khanna's films on Twitter. “Chingari Koi Bhadke” and “Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai” were among the songs that Hanif shared for his followers on the micro-blogging site.
Ordinary Pakistanis too used Twitter to pay tribute to Khanna. Anthony Permal, a Pakistani copywriter based in Dubai wrote, “The first ever song I can recall from Indian cinema was Yeh Shaam Mastani when dad played it for me when I was a toddler.”
Permal said the collective sadness on social media in India and Pakistan over Khanna's death “says much of our shared heritage”.
Journalist Fahad Desmukh tweeted, “RIP Rajesh Khanna. Thank you for introducing me to trade unionism and class consciousness in Namak Haram.”
In a post, lawyer and columnist Yasser Latif Hamdani wrote, “Thank you Rajesh Khanna for the art and beauty left behind in the world. You will live on.”