I have watched him as a child and throughout my life was always fascinated by his style and charisma, says Sanjay Dutt.
Industry colleagues and friends pay homage to, and recall their special moments spent with, iconic actor Vinod Khanna who breathed his last on Thursday morning
For an actor who had a flourishing career in the ’80s before he turned to politics, Vinod Khanna lived a rather inconspicuous life these past few years — until a photograph of his frail self made its way to the Internet a few days ago. The photograph raised much concern among industry folks and fans, for it showed little resemblance to the star that was — even as his family maintained that it was a case of dehydration. On Thursday morning, however, our worst fears came true when news of his demise (to bladder carcinoma) broke.
A major star in the ’70s and ’80s, he had featured in films such as Amar, Akbar, Anthony, Insaaf, Imtihaan, Qurbaani and Lahu ke Do Rang. He wasn’t, however, the conventional Bollywood hero who played the good cop. He straddled very gracefully between playing the villain, the second fiddle and at times the parallel lead and almost always, walked away with all the applause. His talent was seldom tapped to its fullest though. The Amitabh Bachchans and Rajesh Khannas, and even the Rishi Kapoors in later years would walk away with the meatier parts, often leaving Khanna to excel in the blatantly limited roles he’d ultimately end up playing. At a later stage, the actor’s decision to quit movies altogether and shun glamour came from him embracing the world of spirituality under the guidance of Osho Rajneesh, whose ideologies he had reportedly got obsessed with.
The fact that filmmakers queued outside his house years later, when he finally made the much yearned reappearance, established how sorely the industry had missed the actor in him. His last big Bollywood outing was Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale, where he played Shah Rukh Khan’s father. Incidentally, his latest work shot in 2010 — Ek Thi Rani Aisi Bhi featuring Hema Malini — released a week ago.
More than anything else, I’ll always remember him as a thorough gentleman — cultured, polite and someone who knew how to conduct himself with the ladies. With Vinod, things were always proper on the sets. He would come on time, say his polite ‘hello’, shoot and leave. The first film we did together was Bombay 405 Miles, which featured Vinod, Shatrughan Sinha and me. It was truckloads of fun to do because it was a fun subject. Vinod and I then came together for the Feroz Khan blockbuster Qurbani. Vinod was always proper, always correct in his behaviour. A thorough gentleman. We didn’t meet in recent years — he had his life, I had mine. And now we shall never meet.”
I have watched him as a child and throughout my life was always fascinated by his style and charisma. He was always a thorough gentleman. His demise is a big loss to the fraternity. He is and always will be family to the Dutts. May his soul rest in peace. My deepest condolences to Kavita bhabhi, Akshay, Rahul and Sakshi.
A real handsome man — both on and off screen. He celebrated his life with love, dignity and compassion for others in service to his nation as MP. He will always live in my heart and mind.
It’s a big loss to the industry, of course, and a personal loss to me because he was a very dear friend. We have worked together but I knew him before he joined the film industry. I knew him since our college days. He was a fine gentleman, a good-looking actor and above everything else, a great human.
Our last film together, Ek Rani Aisi Bhi, released just a few days ago. And now, he’s gone! He was a very fine gentleman, educated, articulate and well-informed. I had the opportunity to work with him in several capacities. In Gulzar saab’s Meera, he brought such calm and understanding to his role. He was like that in real life too. On the sets, I would spend a lot of time discussing Acharya Rajneesh with him. I wanted to understand what it was about that man that made Vinod leave his career and join him in Oregon for five years. I came into politics because of Vinod. He insisted. That’s how my career in politics started. It’s sad he is no more!
I remember him as a dynamic personality and a charming man. It was an honour when I got an opportunity to work with him. When I first introduced my mother Faridah to him as ‘my mum’ on the sets of Wanted, he told me that she was an individual first and then my mother. The gesture says a lot about the man that he was. His demise is a huge loss to the industry. My prayers are with the family.
Inputs by Uma Ramasubramanian, Subhash K. Jha, Aarti Bhanushali