Bollywood’s original ‘hunk’ Vinod Khanna dies of cancer

Bollywood veteran actor Vinod Khanna succumbs to gall-bladder cancer. Bollywood mourns the death of the original ‘macho’ man of Bollywood.

  • Vinod Khanna was the first modern Bollywood hero who started out by playing negative characters. In fact, many felt that Khanna was more impressive as a villain on screen, than the conventional Bollywood hero.
  • In Gulzar directed ‘Merey Apne’, most of the actors were from the prestigious FTII (Shatrughan Sinha, Danny Denzongpa, Asrani, Paintal), whereas Vinod Khanna was not. Decades later, Vinod Khanna revealed that “They treated me as an outsider. It was a real life play of the film’s script. They seemed to have ganged up against me.”
  • At one point in his career, people in the film industry felt that Vinod Khanna was a threat to superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
  • In the 1980s, Vinod Khanna gave up films to retire to an ashram run by Rajneesh, in Pune. Many felt that had he not aborted his flourishing film career, he would perhaps have become the number one actor of India.

    Watch: Vinod Khanna beating Amitabh Bachchan to pulp in Amar Akbar Anthony


  • Khanna’s noteworthy films include Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Gaddar, Imtihaan, Mere Apne, Muqaddar ka Sikander, Inkaar, Amar Akbar, Antony, Qurbani, Kudrat, Dayavan among others.
  • Vinod had immense respect for his son, Akshaye Khanna as an actor. He was mighty impressed with his performance as Harilal Gandhi in the film ‘Gandhi, My Father’ and in Dil Chahata Hai.
  • Vinod Khanna, who was a sitting Member of Parliament, is survived by his wife Kavita and four children. His sons Rahul and Akshaye are also actors.


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“My earliest memory of Vinod is when I was the third assistant director and the production manager on the legendary Raj Khosla’s Mera Gaon Mera Desh. He had just hit the landscape with Mann Ka Meet. I still remember the shot in which, Vinod – who played Jabbar Singh – comes on a horse into a deserted village. He dismounts from his horse and walks menacingly towards a door and kicks it open. The shot was okayed, when Khosla turned to us and said, “This boy is going to be a star. He will set the nation blaze,” Mahesh Bhatt.


Not many are aware that Mahesh Bhatt was instrumental in taking Vinod Khanna to the Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh ashram (he was not rechristened as ‘Osho’ at that time). Vinod was devastated by the the sudden passing away of his mother and that made it easy for him to give up everything and go to the ashram.

“we both became sanyasis. We both would be saffron-clad those days. The industry sniggered and laughed at us. But we were intoxicated with our quest for moksha and enlightenment that was promised by this charismatic Godman. I – after two-and-a-half years of having tried meditation, gimmicks that were being peddled there and reading all books – got disillusioned. I was like, “I have become nearly a wordsmith and I can stand on my head and hang from the trees and meditate, but nothing has changed in me.”

“So, I moved away but Vinod, for some reason, was persuaded by Rajneesh to stay on. So much so that when Rajneesh left for the US, Vinod accompanied him. He came back after that circus collapsed and was under depression. Being a stubborn and a resilient individual, he pulled himself out of that quagmire and had a revival in career, but he couldn’t get back the same fire,” Mahesh Bhatt.

Vinod Khanna studied at the Barnes School in British era cantonment township of Deolali in Maharashtra.

“Vinod used to win all acting and sports awards. He was the star attraction in the Dramatics Club and used to tell us often that his ambition was to become a film actor. However, going by his acting skills and persona, we thought Vinod will join Hollywood and not Bollywood,” said his schoolmate Col (retd) Shashi Kiran Maini.

“Once while I was posted at Gurdaspur in his constituency, I invited him for lunch at the Officers’ Mess and he readily accepted my offer. He was a humble person,” said Maini.

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