By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
New Delhi (CNN) – The Indian actor Rajesh Khanna, who became the first Bollywood superstar, died Wednesday in Mumbai at the age of 69, his family said.
The death of Khanna, who starred in dozens of movies in a career spanning five decades, prompted tributes from fellow actors and the Indian government.
"He was called the first superstar of the Indian cinema and his popularity as a romantic hero in the 1960s and 1970s is a part of our film folklore," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote in a condolence message to Khanna's family.
"Rajesh Khanna taught us how to smile. He added dignity to our concept of romance," the actor Anupam Kher said in a message posted on his Twitter feed. "His songs made us forget our daily struggles of life."
Khanna had been in and out of the hospital during the past few months, but the nature of his illness and cause of death have not been officially disclosed.