One of the most emotional moments for a person is to write an obit for a person you’ve grown up loving and adoring. That is exactly how I feel right now when I sit down and pen this piece on one of India’s most dashing superstars who’s moved on to another world.
Vinod Khanna (or VK as he was fondly known by friends) was everything that you wanted to see on screen. When today’s actors actually plot and plan their every move, here was one man who gave it all up at the peak of his career for spirituality. It’s another thing he came back with a bang 5 years later to reclaim his stardom and managed to do it with élan!
Hailing from a business family, he graduated in Commerce from the elite SoBo College, Sydenham before deciding to try his luck at acting. Starting off as a side actor and then a villain, Khanna was certainly too dashing to be ignored for long and before you knew, he was right up there mouthing some of the best lines, romancing top heroines and delivering one hit after another. His swagger, screen presence, dialogue delivery and unparalleled charisma made him the box office darling of the 70s second to none. Legend has it that had he not given up and left for Osho, Bachchan would have perhaps never been the huge star that he became all through the 80s.
Many moons have passed since then but VK will always go down in film history as one of the best looking stars we’ve ever seen. In a world where PR often outsmarts talent, I’ve always felt Khanna never really got his due especially by the newer generation who perhaps only knew of him as a good looking actor from the yesteryears. And unlike actors of today, neither was he well-versed nor inclined for self-promotion. While Vinod Khanna will always be remembered for being the dashing superstar, it must be said he’s perhaps the only actor (besides Shatrughan Sinha) to have played the villain and the quintessential hero with equal style.
To use a song from his legendary film, “Zindagi Toh Bewafa Hai, Ek Din Thukraayegi, Maut Mehbooba Hai, Apne Saath Lekar Jaayegi…”
(The columnist is regarded as the pioneer of the short film space in India and is also the Founder of SHAMIANA, India’s premier short film club.)