A star, a villain, a sanyasi and a politician, Vinod Khanna, also known as “the monk who sold his Mercedes” and Swami Vinod Bharti, died last year as he succumbed to cancer at the age of 70. Vinod Khanna was born in Peshawar, British India (now in Pakistan)to Kamla and Kishanchand Khanna, in 1946, his family moved to Bombay when after the partition. “We reached Bombay, where my father had an office. Initially, we stayed with friends and relatives. I was a good student and a favourite with the teachers. In 1957, when I was in class VI, we moved to Delhi,” Khanna had revealed in an old interview in 2002.
After watching the iconic movie Mughal-e-Azam starring Dilip Kumar, Vinod Khanna fell truly in love with motion pictures and decided to pursue his dreams, immediately after graduating from Sydenham College with a commerce degree. He was considered as the 'best-looking' actor in Bollywood and featured in innumerable lead roles. However, his love for spirituality soon made him lose his superstardom to another legend of our time Amitabh Bachchan.
‘‘I have always been a seeker. In the film industry, I had money, glamour, fame but wondered now what? Initially, I visited Osho’s ashram in Pune every weekend. I even diverted shooting schedules to Pune. I was finally initiated on December 31, 1975. When I announced my retirement from films, nobody believed me," Khanna said on leaving the industry.
On taking a break from the spiritual part, Vinod said, "I went back to Bollywood. Returning to the movies was the easy part. It was leaving my guru in America which was an almost-impossible decision so much attached was I to Osho. He asked me to run the Puna ashram, but I said no. That is the most difficult no I have ever said in my life."
Talking about sanyasi living, he said, "I was Osho’smali: I am one of the few Indians to have stayed with Osho in Rajneeshpuram, the city he built in America. I spent four years with Osho. I was his gardener, I cleaned the toilets, I did the dishes, and his clothes were tried out on me because we were, physically, of the same stature."
So, on his 71st birthday, we thought of sharing some interesting facts about the legend. Have a look:
Before portraying the much-loved cop in his movies, Vinod was known for his different persona and style that made quite an amazing dacoit in many flicks.
Vinod Khanna made his Bollywood debut in Sunil Dutt’s 1968 film Man Ka Meet, as the villain. Then the ‘villain-turned-hero,’ started playing supporting or low-down characters in the films including Mastana in 1970, Aan Milo Sajna, Sachaa Jhutha, Mera Gaon Mera Desh and Elaan in 1971.
In Achanak, where he had to kill his adulterous wife, Vinod received rave reviews for his performance!
He tried out-of-the-box things too. He is known, to break the taboo about lovemaking, in Aruna Vikas’ Shaque (1976), while his mature and complex performance as a murder suspect in the movie was lauded.
From 1971 till 1982, Vinod Khanna feature in 47 multi-hero movies including Khoon Pasina, Amar Akbar Anthony, Hera Pheri, Zameer, Ek Aur Ek Gyarah, Parvarish and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.
Before Vinod, Amitabh Bachchan was offered his role in Qurbani, however, he refused it and the rest is history! That film went on to become the highest-grossing film of that year.
Soon when he was at the peak of his career, Vinod announced his retirement from the entertainment industry. In 1975, Vinod Khanna became a disciple of (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) and in the early 1980s, he shifted to Rajneeshpuram in the US.
Later in 1977, the actor-turned-sanyasi turned into a 'neta' and joined the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP). He represented Punjab’s Gurdas Parliamentary seat four times in the Lok Sabha and became the Minister of State for External Affairs in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
I’m sure there might have been something new about the actor- turned-sanyasi-minister that caught your eye! What an adventurous life he’s had. R.IP! We miss you.