Apurv Shukla –
Indian cinema lost one of its most versatile and handsome actors with the passing away of Vinod Khanna.
The 70-year-old lost his battle to liver cancer on April 27, 2017.
Born in Peshawar, he got his first break in the Hindi film industry with Sunil’s Dutt’s ‘Man Ka Meet.’
He started his career playing negative characters in films like ‘Purab Aur Paschim’ and ‘Sachaa Jhutha.’
His portrayal of a dacoit in the action-drama ‘Mera Gaon Mera Desh’ in which he held his own against Dharamendra, got him rave reviews.
Gulzar’s directorial debut ‘Mere Apne’ was one of the earliest films to cast Vinod Khanna as the leading man.
It starred another actor who would soon graduate from playing negative to main leads, namely, Shatrughan Sinha.
He teamed up again with Gulzar in 1973 for ‘Achanak’, as story based on the 1958 murder case of KM Nanavati v State of Maharashtra (Akshay Kumar recently got a national award for ‘Rustom,’ another adaptation of the same incident).
The softer side
His sensitive portrayal of Major Ranjeet Khanna in the song-less film showed a softer side to the macho star’s persona.
The dashing actor formed a successful combination with Amitabh Bachchan and delivered big hits like ‘Amar Akbar Anthony,’ ‘Hera Pheri’ and ‘Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.’
Rishi Kapoor, in his recently released autobiography ‘Khullam Khulla,’ wrote how Vinod Khanna was insistent on a having a leading role opposite him in ‘Amar Akbar Anthony,’ as both the other lead actors had the same actor. Shabana Azmi eventually played his love interest in the lost and found themed blockbuster.
The decades of 1970 and 1980 were an era dominated by multi-starrer action films.
The tall and suave Vinod Khanna with his charismatic screen presence was a perfect fit for these masala entertainers.
His prominent releases of the period included ‘Haath Ki Safai,’ ‘The Burning Train’ and one of the most stylish films ever made ‘Qurbani.’
Sadly, both the leading men of this biggest hit of 1980 Feroz Khan and Vinod Khanna passed away on the same date; eight years apart.
At the height of his Bollywood career Vinod Khanna did what was unthinkable for any star – leave the industry.
He became a follower of Spiritual Guru Osho and spent time in America with the ‘Rajneesh Movement.’
Vinod Khanna came back to movies in 1987. Hindi cinema had changed; the Video industry was thriving and adversely impacting the film industry.
This led to creativity taking a backseat in filmmaking.
His standout performances in his second innings came in ‘Dayavan,’ ‘Jurm’ and the breezy and melodious romance ‘Chandani.’
He also played Salman Khan’s father in the smash hit ‘Dabangg’ series.
Vinod Khanna was last seen on the big screen in the Shahrukh Khan-Kajol starrer ‘Dilwale.’ His sons Akshaye and Rahul are part of the film industry.
Vinod Khanna was one of the few stars to successfully transit from the silver screen to politics. He was a sitting Member of Parliament of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party from Gurdaspur in Punjab. He, alongside his co-star of many films Shatrughan Sinha were also Ministers in the Central Government for a period from 2002.
Vinod Khanna was one of the most popular stars of Hindi cinema. His well-chiselled good looks, dialogue delivery and most importantly the ability to light up the screen, was what endeared him to his large legion of fans – he will be sorely missed.
Photo: Vinod Khanna (1946-2017)
The Minister who missed New Zealand
Vinod Khanna was the Minister of State for External Affairs in 2007. In that capacity, he was due to visit New Zealand at the invitation of then Trade Minister Phil Goff to participate in a series of meetings held between the two governments and the officials of the visiting Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, India and the India New Zealand Business Council. A delegation of officials including Indian Newslink, the only Indian newspaper at that time was involved in arranging his visit and meeting at the Langham Hotel on October 24, 2007. The delegation included Tim Groser, who was then in the Opposition as National Party’s Trade Spokesman. However, as our meeting was in progress, a message received by Mr Goff said that Mr Khanna had to cancel his visit because he was recalled to Delhi to attend an urgent meeting of the federal Cabinet.