(Actor Vinod Khanna died on 27 April 2017 after a reported battle with cancer. This article, by film critic Bhawana Somaaya, is being reposted from The Quint’s archives as a tribute to the veteran actor’s illustrious career.)
Legend has it that when Sunil Dutt saw Vinod Khanna for the first time, he was fascinated with the young man because he was from Peshawar (present day-Pakistan). Dutt decided to launch Khanna and his younger brother Som Dutt in his home production Man ka Meet (1968).
Initially, Vinod Khanna was just a good looking villain. But his solid screen presence ensured that irrespective of whether his role was positive or negative, he was noticed in all his films – be it Purab Aur Paschim with Manoj Kumar or Aan Milo Sajna and Saccha Jootha with Rajesh Khanna (1970).
The year 1971 proved to be a turning point in Khanna’s career – with three films presenting him in three very different avatars. Sunil Dutt’s Reshma Aur Shera, which also launched Amitabh Bachchan, Gulzar’s Mere Apne, that defined him as an actor and Raj Khosla’s dacoit drama Mera Gaon Mera Desh, where he shared screen space with Sunil Dutt and Dharmendra.
On the personal front, Vinod Khanna married his childhood sweetheart Geetanjali. The two went on to have two sons, Akshaye and Rahul Khanna.
The 70s was a decade of multi-starrer films and Vinod Khanna was a prominent player, pairing up with Amitabh Bachchan and other actors. He worked with Randhir Kapoor in Haath Ki Safai and Amitabh Bachchan in Khoon Pasina, Parvarish and Amar Akbar Anthony.
When I met Vinod Khanna for the first time in 1978, he was already into Osho Rajneesh. He wore an orange kaftan and a beaded mala to shootings. He walked around the studio and his set with an orange cloth bag strapped around his shoulder. He would delay getting into his costume till the shot was ready.
During this phase, I interviewed him a number of times. No matter what question you asked him, he had a knack of relating the answer to Rajneesh’s philosophy.
When in Mumbai (then Bombay), he shot from Monday to Friday. After pack-up, he drove to Pune (then Poona) to spend the weekend with Rajneesh. Producers were concerned about his obsession with Rajneesh but Vinod Khanna was blissfully indifferent to his surroundings.
As months went by, his disinterest in work became more apparent. And then, the inevitable happened. There was some problem at Rajneesh’s Poona resort, because of which Osho shifted overnight to Oregon and wanted his favourite disciple Vinod Khanna to follow him.
This was in 1980, a time when Vinod Khanna was the darling of the nation, the action hero of The Burning Train and the heartbreaker of the very popular Qurbani. Would Vinod Khanna stake his career for his guru?
When the news first reached our ears, nobody took it seriously and was dismissed as a crazy rumour. But slowly, as days went by, directors confided that Khanna had stalled all his new projects indefinitely. Producers confirmed that Vinod Khanna was returning signing amounts. This was serious.
His co-stars were alarmed and his distributors were angry. The media wanted to know what was going on. So finally, on the advice of his manager (then secretary), Vinod Khanna called a press conference. The venue was the newly launched Centaur (today Tulip Star) Hotel. His first wife Geetanjali and their sons were a part of the conference.
In those days, press conferences were not as common as they are today. Everyone was surprised at how composed Vinod Khanna was. He did not make any elaborate speeches. He said he had made up his mind to quit films and shift base and that he wanted to follow his heart. His wife Geetanjali seated beside him was supportive of his decision.
In the following weeks, Vinod Khanna left for Oregon. If the stories are to be believed, he transformed into an able gardener at the Rajneeshpuram ashram. Every morning, he woke up and watered the plants and sang to the flowers. During his years away, Vinod Khanna hardly visited India. The media lost touch with him until news of his divorce in 1985.
After his long exile, Vinod Khanna was first spotted on a popular magazine cover with a white beard. It was a signal to the film industry that the prodigal son had returned and producers clamoured to queue outside his home.
His first release post his spiritual break was the Mukul Anand-directed Insaaf, starring Dimple Kapadia, followed by Feroze Khan’s Dayavan. The attractive actor was among the first crop of actors to endorse a brand (Cinthol).ओशो आश्रम में माली थे विनोद खन्ना, जूठी थाली से टॉयलेट तक किया साफ
मुंबई/ पुणे.फेमस बाॅलीवुड एक्टर विनोद खन्ना का गुरुवार को मुंबई इलाज के दौरान निधन हो गया। पिछले कुछ दिनों से गिरगांव एचएन रिलायंस फाउंडेशन एंड रिसर्च सेंटर में उनका इलाज चल रहा था। सालभर से किसी गंभीर बीमारी से पीड़ित थे। पुणे के ओशो आश्रम में विनोद खन्ना कई साल रहे। यहीं से वे आचार्य रजनीश ओशो के साथ अमेरिका चले गए और वहां रहने के दौरान उन्होंने उनके टॉयलेट से लेकर जूठी थाली तक साफ की। विनोद को लोग कहते थे ‘सेक्सी संन्यासी’…
अपना सब कुछ किया दान
– पुणे के ओशो आश्रम में उन्हें औपचारिक तौर पर 31 दिसंबर, 1975 को दीक्षा दिलाई गई।
– ओशो आश्रम में जुड़ने से पहले विनोद खन्ना की पहचान बॉलीवुड के तीन सबसे सफल अभिनेताओं में होती थी।
– ओशो से जुड़ने के बाद उन्होंने सैकंडों जोड़ी सूट, कपड़े, जूते और अन्य लग्जरी सामान को लोगों में बांट दिया।
– इसके बाद वे पहले गेरुआ और बाद में आश्रम द्वारा निर्धारित मरून चोगा पहनने लगे।
ओशो आश्रम में माली थे विनोद खन्ना
– विनोद खन्ना, आचार्य रजनीश ओशो के साथ अमेरिका के ओरेगान में कम्यून स्थापित करने के लिए चले गए।
– वहां पहुंचने पर ओशो ने उन्हें अपने पर्सनल गार्डन की देखभाल के लिए बतौर माली नियुक्त किया।
– वहां वे तकरीबन चार साल तक रहे और अमेरिका द्वारा ओशो आश्रम बंद करने के बाद इंडिया आ गए।
– एक इंटरव्यू में खुद विनोद खन्ना ने स्वीकार किया था कि, अमेरिका के ओशो आश्रम में वे कई साल माली रहे, इस दौरान उन्होंने आश्रम में टॉयलेट से लेकर थाली तक धोया।
पत्नी से टूटा रिश्ता
– 4-5 साल तक परिवार से दूर रहने वाले विनोद का परिवार पूरी तरह टूट गया था।
– जब वो इंडिया लौटे तो पत्नी उन्हें तलाक देने का फैसला कर चुकी थीं।
– फैमिली बिखरने के बाद 1987 में विनोद ने फिल्म ‘इंसाफ’ से फिर से बॉलीवुड में एंट्री की।
– दोबारा फिल्मी करियर शुरू करने के बाद विनोद ने 1990 में कविता से शादी की।
– दोनों के एक बेटा और एक बेटी है। विनोद का दूसरा बेटा साक्षी भी फिल्मों में आने की तैयारी कर रहा है।