Rajesh Khanna may have been Bollywood's first real superstar but there was no denying his glory days were well behind him. Unlike contemporaries like Amitabh Bachchan, Mr Khanna had made only the rarest of appearances on screen in the last two decades, almost none of which left a lasting impression.
But, as his funeral procession made it's way through the rainwashed streets of Mumbai this morning, the atmosphere was one of mass hysteria, just as it used to be 40 years ago when Mr Khanna was the most revered of the Bollywood divinities. Thousands of fans, of all ages, braved the grey skies and wet weather to line the procession route between Aashirwad, Mr Khanna's home on Carter Road in Bandra, to the Pawan Hans Crematorium in Vile Parle. As his glass coffin rolled by, the gathered crowds jostled and shoved for one last glimpse of the late star.
By the time Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan arrived at the crematorium, fan frenzy had caused a stampede of sorts, making it almost impossible for father and son to actually enter the crematorium.
Rajesh Khanna was no stranger to hysterical fan behaviour in his heyday. Bollywood legend is littered with stories of how screaming women used to line the streets as he drove by, how his car would have to be cleaned of lipstick marks every morning, how countless female fans "married" photographs of him, applying sindoor with their own blood, and how there were threats of suicide when he married the 16 year old Dimple Kapadia in 1973.
So disruptive was the effect of Rajesh Khanna's mere presence that his famous song Chingari Koi Bhadke
from Amar Prem
could not be shot on location - on the waters of the river Hooghly beneath Kolkata's Howrah Bridge - because authorities feared the weight of the fans who would undoubtedly gather to watch the shoot would bring down the entire bridge itself.
Today, as Mr Khanna made his final journey, he proved that nothing had changed.