Updated: May 7, 2017 7:06:53 pm
Born in 80s when the likes of Sunny Deol, Sanjay Dutt, Mithun Chakarborty and Anil Kapoor were breaking villain’s bones on big screen in every second film, I didn’t have the privilege to go to theatres. So, it was either boring black-and-white films on Doordrashan on Sunday for me or rented VCR tapes once a month. And with all ageing family members being big fans of fading star Amitabh Bachchan, the VCR tapes that my kin always ordered were of the Big B’s old classics. As a little child, I never had a say in selection of the films. So when I requested them to order Maine Pyar Kiya, I was treated with Deewar. When I cried for watching Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, I was forced to watch Don. I had no option but to watch them. And to be honest, the films were not bad. In fact, this is how an Amitabh fan was born inside me.
Watching Amitabh thrashing fat and strong guys like Amjad Khan, Shetty, Bob Christo and their sidekicks in all films made me believe that Amitabh is invincible. Just like Sabu of Chacha Chowdhary comics. He was my hero. But the fan inside me faced the biggest embarrassment when I first saw Amar Akbar Anthony. That was my first encounter with a man called Vinod Khanna. Height at par with Bachchan and a well toned body, “Vinod was more handsome,” said one of my uncles while watching the film. The words made me upset. And I replied “Amitabh zyada lamba hai aur abhi do ghusa Amitabh marega to ye uth nahi payega”. My uncle, who had already watched the movie, just smiled and said, “Dekho abhi kya hota hai.” The next sequence was the fight scene between Vinod and Amitabh. And I was getting excited.
“Yahan ka dada hai tu,” says inspector Amar (Vinod) as Anthony (Amitabh) challenges him for a fight. “Chal dekhta hoon tere me kitna dum hai,” he says as he removes his uniform. I had complete faith in Big B and was sure that my hero will win the fight. What happened next ruined the fan inside me. Vinod thrashed Amitabh left, right and centre and locks him up inside the police station. Amitabh wakes up inside the police station and tells Vinod, “Tumeny apun ko dus mara, aur apun ne tumko do mara, lekin solid mara ki nahi.” It was supposed to be a comedy scene. My family was laughing. But I was disheartened and I slept that night without having my dinner. I just hated Vinod Khanna all through my childhood for winning that fight.
And adding to my disappointment were the popular narratives, “Agar Osho ke chakkar me nahi pada hota, to Vinod Khanna Amitabh Bachchan ko kab ka peechey chod chuka hota.” There were always discussion of Vinod and Amitabh’s professional rivalry among my friends and relatives. And they never forgot to mention, “Khoon Paseena aur Parvarish me to Amitabh ko overshadow kar diya thaa.” And my reply used to be, “Muqaddar ka Siqandar ki baat karo.” And they used to stun me, “Rakhee Vinod se hi pyar karti thi Amitabh se nahi.” Never ever I got a chance to speak about Amitabh’s prowess over Vinod.
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Things changed when I grew up and came across films like Shaque with Shabana Azmi, Imtihan, Mere Apne, Achanak and Inkaar. I realised what a brilliant actor he was. In fact, as Mere Apne showed, Vinod was the original angry young man before Amitabh earned the title. The conviction he had in his acting, so effortless. Gradually I realised my friends were not all that wrong and the hate turned into respect for his brilliant performances during his glittering career. I realised Amitabh had his own identity and Vinod his own niche. They were incomparable. He was the most dashing guy the industry has ever seen. His Qurbani and Dayavaan, still remain my favorites. He was among those few — Shatrughan Sinha and Shah Rukh Khan — who started their careers as villains and went on to play hero. The news of his demise came as a big shock for me. His death has certainly created a big vacuum.
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