The story opens against the backdrop of idyllic hilly terrain with airforce officer Arun Varma (Rajesh Khanna) crooning "Mere sapno ki rani" atop an open jeep along with his co-worker Madan (Sujit Kumar), while Vandana (Sharmila Tagore), the daughter of a doctor Gopal Tripathi (Pahadi Sanyal) demurely sneaks glances at him from a mini train. After a brief romance, they have a secret wedding.
Soon afterwards, Arun dies in an air crash leaving behind a heartbroken and pregnant Vandana. His family refuses to accept the unwed mother-to-be since her marriage with Arun is never formalised. Meanwhile, her father also dies, leaving her destitute. Vandana's son is finally born, but she is forced to let a childless couple adopt him. But determined to be a part of his life, she accepts the responsibility of becoming his nanny. The boy is named Suraj. Events take an ugly turn when her employer's brother Shyam (Manmohan) arrives and lusts for Vandana. He tries to harass her physically when no-one is around, but Suraj arrives and stabs him to death in order to save his nanny. Upon the arrival of police, Vandana confesses to the murder while Suraj runs away. Thus, Vandana is sent to jail and Suraj forgets this mishap as he grows up.
Several years later, when Vandana is released from jail she is befriended by the jailer (Madan Puri) who takes her home and introduces her to his daughter Renu (Farida Jalal). Vandana comes face to face with her son Suraj (Rajesh Khanna) when she discovers that Renu is dating him. Suraj, just like how his father wished, is an air-force officer. He slowly starts remembering that he has seen Vandana somewhere, although Vandana wants to hide the truth as she feels Suraj may be embarrassed upon realizing his parent's background and history. Vandana makes herself home at the jailer's house.
At one time, Suraj gets injured in an air crash just like his real father Arun, but survives. At that time, Vandana meets Madan, who knows that Suraj is Arun and Vandana's son and he wants to tell Suraj the truth. Again, Vandana denies wanting to let Suraj know that he is her son, fearing the consequences. Later when Vandana is not around, Suraj sees her diary where Arun's photo is found. Realizing that Arun and Vandana are his true parents, he however salutes Vandana's self-sacrificing attitude and accepts her as his own mother.
- Genre: Romantic
- Runtime: 169 Minutes
- Awards: 1969 Filmfare Awards Best Film - Shakti Samanta, 1969 Filmfare Awards Best Actress - Sharmila Tagore, 1969 Filmfare Awards Best Male Playback Singer - Kishore Kumar for the song "Roop Tera Mastana"
Aradhana (English: Worship) is a 1969 Hindi language film directed by Shakti Samanta, starring Sharmila Tagore and Rajesh Khanna. It is a remake of the 1946 Hollywood film To Each His Own. It was voted best film of the year by the Filmfare Awards. Sharmila Tagore won her first Filmfare Best Actress Award for the same role that won Olivia de Havilland her first Academy Award for Best Actress. The film was the highest grosser of 1969.
Originally released in Hindi and dubbed in Bengali, Aradhana's huge success gave way to two remakes, both starring Vanisri in Sharmila Tagore's role: the Tamil film Sivakamiyin Selvan (1974) and the Telugu film Kannavari Kalalu (1974).