There was a pall of gloom on the entire film industry when news broke out on Thursday (April 27) morning that actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna is no more. He was 70. For the past few weeks, he was admitted at a private hospital in Mumbai after he was diagnosed with advanced bladder carcinoma. The news that Vinod Khanna had been battling with cancer first appeared recently, when a photograph of him began doing rounds on social media.
Born on October 6, 1946, in Peshawar, Vinod Khanna’s family moved to Mumbai after the partition and by the time he turned 20, despite his father’s dictates not to venture into acting or partying, the actor decided to turn actor after he fell in love with Mughal-E-Azam. He was reportedly spotted at a party in Bombay by Sunil Dutt who offered him a role in his home production Man Ka Meet in 1968.
After playing several villainous roles in films like Mera Gaon Mera Desh and Anokhi Ada, he turned hero with Gulzar’s Mere Apne in 1971. The film which turned his fortunes, however, was Achanak (1973) which propelled his career to be the angry young man of the 70s, alongside Amitabh Bachchan. The duo went on to collaborate for several films including Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and Manmohan Desai’s classic Amar Akbar Anthony.
Vinod Khanna was a heartthrob in his heydays and he was the ‘King of Cool’ long before the term became popular, and he shaped the idea of fashion in mainstream cinema. He was at the peak of his career when Qurbaani (1980) turned out to be a blockbuster, but two years later, he shocked everyone when he decided to go on a spiritual quest and follow the footsteps of Osho. He became Swami Vinod Bharti and even worked as a gardener, cleaned toilets and did the dishes. “I had reached a saturation point in my career and I kept asking myself “now what”? That’s when I decided to give it all up,” Vinod Khanna once said. Later, he moved to the US to spend time at Rajneeshpuram in the Oregon state, USA, but the move took a major toll on his family life. By the time he came back to India, he had nothing left and decided to re-start his career. Films like Insaaf and Satyamev Jayate brought him back into the game.
In late 90s, he entered politics and won the elections on a BJP ticket in 1999, 2004 and 2014. His peers like Rajnath Singh recall him being a very sensitive and sensible politician throughout his political career, which also included a term as a minister of tourism.
Vinod Khanna’s demise has left behind a huge vacuum not just for Hindi cinema but anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s. His macho looks and angry-young-man avatar is an iconic image that people won’t forget as long as they remember films.
He might have made his debut as a villain in Sunil Dutt’s 1968 film ‘Man Ka Meet’, but later started playing lead roles. The film, which was made to launch Sunil Dutt's brother Som, helped make Vinod the cynosure of all eyes. Within weeks of the release of the film, more than a dozen producers lined up outside his house to sign him.
The actor also received a Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999 for his contribution to the film industry for over three decades.
Here are some of the most acclaimed works of the celebrated actor.
• Hum Tum Aur Woh (1971)
He played the solo lead hero in the flick which was directed by Shiv Kumar.
• Mere Apne (1971)
‘Hum Tum Aur Woh’ was followed by the 1971 multi-starrer and critically acclaimed ‘Mere Apne’ that was directed by Gulzar.
• Achanak (1973)
His role in this critically acclaimed movie as the military officer turned fugitive received tremendous applause from both the film industry and his fans.
• Imtihan (1974)
The film had Khanna playing a tough college teacher who is falsely accused by one of his students of sexual harassment which had him essaying both sensitivity and charm in equal measure.
• Shaque (1976)
He was universally praised for his role and some say the underrated film contains the best acting of his career.
• Aap Ki Khatir (1977)
Rekha and Vinod Khanna starred together in this situational comedy about a wife who takes a loan from a loan shark for the sake of her husband and then is desperate to pay off the loan.
• Inkaar (1978)
Based on Kurosawa film High And Low (1963), the film has Khanna playing a hardworking cop who moves heaven and hell to get to the root of a kidnapping and wins back the heart of his former girlfriend (Vidya Sinha) in the process.
• Wanted (2009)
An official remake of a Telugu film Pokiri, the film stars Salman Khan, Ayesha Takia, Prakash Raj, Vinod Khanna and Mahesh Manjrekar in the lead roles.
• Dabangg (2010)
Directed by Abhinav Kashyap and produced by Arbaaz Khan, Vinod Khanna was seen as Salman Khan’s father in ‘Dabangg’
• Ek Thi Rani Asi Bhi (2017)
The biopic features Hema Malini in the lead role, and maps Vijay Raje Scindia’s political career and her estrangement from her son Madhavrao Scindia (Rajesh Shringarpure) after the death of her husband Jivajirao Scindia (Vinod Khanna).
(with inputs from ANI)