Born on 6th October 1946, Vinod Khanna was the actor who revolutionized Bollywood and the role of the male protagonist. He was called Bollywood’s Angry Young Man after his film ‘Mere Apne’. Post that Vinod has worked in a lot of films that inspired an entire generation. Let’s look at his journey through Bollywood here:
Vinod Khanna was born in Peshawar, North-West Frontier Province. His family moved to Mumbai after the India-Pakistan partition that happened less than a year after his birth.
In his college in Mumbai, Vinod was always surrounded by a group of friends, all of whom were die-hard fans of the Rock Group, ''Beatles''. Khanna developed his wonderful physique after working out under the guidance of Shyamlal, the wrestler who represented India at Moscow Olympics.
While attending a casual party, he got a chance to meet Sunil Dutt who immediately offered him a negative role in his home production film ‘Man Ka Meet’ (1969). The film was planned as the launching pad of Sunil Dutt’s brother Som Dutt, but it was Vinod Khanna who ended up being a star.
Right after that film, he started making a mark with supporting as well as negative roles in hit films like Purab Aur Paschim (1970), Sachaa Jhutha (1970) Mastana (1970) and Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971). He soon got his major break with Mere Apne (1971) which also established Gulzar as a top class director.
He next worked on the film Achanak (1973) with Gulzar. His sensitive performance in this movie as an army officer facing death was critically acclaimed. The songless film echoed the true life story of K. M. Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra and Khanna portrayed Kawas Nanavati, the real life Navy officer.
His great personality and excellent acting skills soon catapulted him among the top heroes. In fact, he was competing for the top position with none other than the well-known superstar Amitabh Bachchan when they co-starred in Hera Pheri, Khoon Pasina, Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.
When he was at the peak of his career with hits like Lahu Ke Do Rang and Qurbani, the spiritual side of his personality took over and he announced his retirement from films. He became a follower of the spiritual teacher Osho (Rajneesh) and started living on his in Pune.
He followed Osho to the USA in 1980 and stayed in Rajneeshpuram, Osho's commune in the United States, for four years. There he cleaned dishes and worked as Osho’s gardener. He quit the Commune in 1985 and came back to India to begin his second innings as an actor.
His comeback film Insaaf (1987) was a major hit & established him in the top league again. Hit films and varied roles like Satyamev Jayate, Dayavan, Rihaee, Batwara, Kshatriya, Parampara followed as a treat for millions of his fans.
Vinod Khanna met Geetanjali during college and the couple got married in the year 1971. They took a divorce later during Vinod’s Rajneeshpuram days. The couple has two sons, Rahul and Akshaye, both of whom are well-known actors. Vinod met Kavita Daftary later in the year 1990 and decided to marry her. They have a son, Sakshi and a daughter, Shraddha.
Vinod turned into a producer with Himalay Putra to launch his son Akshaye Khanna in films. He joined politics in 1997 and has met with equal success. He was also an active politician and was the MP from the Gurdaspur constituency between 1998–2009 and 2014–2017.
In July 2002 he played lead roles in many films and is best remembered for his performances in Kuchhe Dhaage, Gaddaar, Imtihaan, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Inkaar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Rajput, The Burning Train, Qurbani, Kudrat, Parvarish, Khoon Pasina, Dayavan, Chandni and Jurm.
Khanna, in his final days was hospitalized at Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Center in Charni Road, Mumbai on 2 April 2017 for a few weeks after suffering from severe dehydration. He took his last breathe at 11:20 a.m. on 27 April, and it was revealed that he had been battling advanced bladder cancer. Although the news about his deteriorating health started to spread in early 2017, his family declined to disclose any information. He was cremated at the Worli Crematorium on the same day.