ACTOR VINOD Khanna, one of Hindi film industry’s leading men in the 1970s, and a Member of Parliament, passed away on Thursday morning. He was 70.
“He breathed his last at 11.20 am due to advanced bladder carcinoma,” said a statement released by the Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, Girgaon, Mumbai. Khanna was treated at the hospital a few weeks ago for extreme dehydration.
Born on October 6, 1946, in Peshawar, Khanna and his family moved to Mumbai after Partition. He studied at St Mary’s School before the family relocated to Delhi, where he lived till they moved back to Mumbai in 1960. Although he was interested in science, Khanna pursued a commerce degree from Sydenham College, Mumbai, at his father’s behest.
In 1968, Sunil Dutt offered him a role in ‘Man Ka Meet’ and a 22-year-old Khanna embarked on a career in Hindi films. While he played villainous and supporting roles in the beginning, he was lauded for his performance in Gulzar’s ‘Mere Apne’ (1971) and ‘Achanak’ (1973).
His looks also brought him an ardent fan-following — he was that rare actor who could make any kind of a moustache or a police uniform look good. He stood out in multi-hero films such as Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), and Qurbani (1980), and was one of the highest paid actors of that time.
But at the height of his powers, in 1982, Khanna quit the industry to join Bhagwan Rajneesh and the Osho commune. The media called him “Sexy Sanyasi” when he travelled all the way to the United States to live at Rajneeshpuram, a city created by Osho devotees in Wasco County, Oregon.
Five years later, he returned to films with ‘Insaf’ and ‘Satyamev Jayate’, which struck gold at the box-office. Yash Chopra’s ‘Chandni’ (1989) and Mahesh Bhatt’s ‘Jurm’ (1990) followed.
Around that time, Khanna also made a splash on the small screen, with an advertisement for Cinthol soap, where he outshone a black stallion by running alongside it on the beach.
In 1997, he launched his son Akshaye in ‘Himalaya Putra’, and joined the BJP; he was elected from Gurdaspur constituency in Punjab. Khanna’s last screen appearance was in Rohit Shetty’s ‘Dilwale’ (2015).
Khanna was married twice — first, to Geentajali Taleyarkhan from 1971-1985, and had two sons with her, actors Rahul and Akshaye. He married Kavita Daftary in 1990 and had two children, a son Sakshi, and a daughter Shraddha. All four were present at the funeral at Worli crematorium last evening.
Actor Kabir Bedi was one of the first to arrive at the crematorium before Khanna’s body was brought in at 5.20 pm. His co-stars from ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’, Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan paid their respects, as well. Bachchan was accompanied by his son, Abhishek.
Other personalities from the film industry who were present for the last rites included Gulzar, Jackie Shroff, Ramesh Sippy, Randhir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Chunky Pandey.