He was a villain, to begin with, but ended up as a hero with a legion of fans swooning over his good looks. For almost five decades, Vinod Khanna ruled the Hindi film world with his lush sideburns and dimpled chin, despite an active career in politics that began in 1997. (All photos/mid-day archives and Instagram)
Vinod Khanna was born in Peshawar, now part of Pakistan, on October 6, 1946. His father was a textiles and chemicals businessman. During his schooling days, Vinod Khanna watched legendary films like Solva Saal (1958) and Mughal-e-Azam (1960), and developed a liking for Hindi cinema.
Vinod Khanna decided to try his hand at acting and debuted as a villain in Sunil Dutt's 1968 film Man Ka Meet. It wouldn't be wrong to say that Khanna was a hero who was overshadowed by a bigger star. In several films, Khanna acted with Amitabh Bachchan, and while the pair was a great success, the angry young man that Bachchan became synonymous with often stole the show.
Vinod Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan, despite the competition, starred in blockbusters such as Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish, Reshma Aur Shera, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Zameer, Hera Pheri and Khoon Paseena. But Bachchan was the undisputed hero; Khanna, always the second man.
Vinod Khanna's debut in Hindi cinema, too, was in the form of a supporting role. It was another would-be MP, also from Punjab, who gave Khanna his first break. Sunil Dutt, it is said, was struck by Khanna's good looks and signed him up as a villain in his production Mann Ka Meet in 1968.
Vinod Khanna continued to play villainous and supportive roles in his initial years - with films such as Purab Aur Paschim, Aan Milo Sajna, Sachaa Jhutha and Mera Gaon Mera Desh.
Vinod Khanna, however, first made a mark as Shyam in Gulzar's 1971 film Mere Apne, where he stood out as a disillusioned young man. He got his first break as a hero in Hum Tum Aur Woh (1971). A great many films followed - including hits such as Elaan and Mera Gaon Mera Desh. Vinod Khanna was at his peak from the mid-70s to early 80s.
But Vinod Khanna shocked his fans when, at the height of his career, he left Bollywood to follow his spiritual guru, Osho Rajneesh, to Oregon in the United States in 1982.
Vinod Khanna married Geetanjali in 1971 and they had two sons - (now actors) Rahul Khanna and Akshaye Khanna. The marriage ended in divorce as Khanna's decision to join Osho caused a rift. Vinod left his wife, Geetanjali, and the sons, to be with Osho Rajneesh. In 1990, he married Kavita Daftary (in the picture). From his second marriage, Khanna has a son, Sakshi, and a daughter, Shraddha.
Vinod Khanna, who was born in a Punjabi family of textile merchants in Peshawar in 1946, chose Punjab to make his political debut in 1997 when he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He fought and won from Gurdaspur in Punjab - a seat that he lost only once in 2009 but won again in the 2014 general elections.
In 2002, Atal Bihari Vajpayee made Vinod Khanna his Culture and Tourism minister. He was later given the External Affairs portfolio.
Vinod Khanna has been part of over 140 films. Till the very end, Khanna was active in Bollywood. His last few memorable screen outings were in Salman Khan's Dabangg series and Shah Rukh Khan's Dilwale in 2015.
In pic: Vinod Khanna with Meenakshi Seshadri.
Vinod Khanna was suffering from advanced bladder carcinoma. Khanna was hospitalised on March 31, 2017. A photograph of a visibly ill-looking actor with his wife Kavita and son Sakshi went viral a week later. There were rumours of him suffering from bladder cancer, but hospital authorities did not confirm it. At the time, they said that his sudden weight loss was due to severe dehydration.
In pic: Vinod Khanna with Sridevi.
Weeks after hospitalization, on April 27, 2017, Vinod Khanna lost the battle to bladder carcinoma. Doctors and family were expecting a recovery, but somehow his condition escalated
In pic: Vinod Khanna with Shabana Azmi.
Twitterati remembered how Vinod Khanna's Qurbani co-star Feroz Khan, too, died on the same day in 2009. Some also noted the eerie similarity between Vinod Khanna and Feroz Khan's death. Feroz Khan had passed away from cancer too.
In pic: Vinod Khanna with Rekha.
As a starry-eyed Vinod Khanna regaled his friends at the Barnes School in British era cantonment township of Deolali in Maharashtra, many thought the young lad was cut out for an innings on the silver screen. "We thought that going by his acting skills and persona, Vinod will join Hollywood and not Bollywood," his schoolmate Col (retd) Shashi Kiran Maini told PTI, after the actor's demise.
In pic: Actor-turned-politicians Sunil Dutt, Vinod Khanna and Raj Babbar.
"I first came in contact with Vinod in 1957, when he joined the Barnes High School. I was in the sixth standard and he was our senior and the boxing captain of our Royal House team, of which I was a member. Vinod later became the head boy at Barnes School. He was a thorough gentleman, an ace sportsman and the best one out there in dramatics," Vinod Khanna's schoolmate said.
In pic: Vinod Khanna with Anjala Zaveri and son Akshaye Khanna. The trio acted together in Himalay Putra, which marked the debuts of Akshaye and Anjala.
Vinod Khanna, during his childhood days, used to win all acting and sports awards. He was always the winner, be it the 100 metres or the 400 metres race or the cross country run. "He was a very good athlete," his schoolmates remembered.
In pic: Vinod Khanna with Bhavna Balsavar.
"My first love is cricket, not films! This game is more difficult to play than any role I have ever played, if only because there were no retakes in cricket," Vinod Khanna had told mid-day once.
In pic: Vinod Khanna with Meenakshi Seshadri and others.
You will be truly missed Vinod ji!
Pic: Osho Rajneesh with Vinod Khanna
On veteran Bollywood actor Vinod Khanna's birth anniversary (October 6), here's a look back at some pictures of the star from his intriguing journey in showbiz
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