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Thursday, Oct 24, 2019

Vinod Khanna: We’ll miss your dominating personality, magnetism

With actor Vinod Khanna gone, the era of men with the air of supremacy, authority and control is over. Yet, his dominating personality and magnetism will always be remembered.

bollywood Updated: Jun 05, 2017 18:14 IST
Rohit Vats
Rohit Vats
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Vinod Khanna was the only actor in the ’70 who could take on Amitabh Bachchan at his prime.
Vinod Khanna was the only actor in the ’70 who could take on Amitabh Bachchan at his prime.(HT Photo)

I had seen his films but never him in person. I always wondered why my father kept saying that Vinod Khanna would have replaced Amitabh Bachchan as the industry’s reigning superstar if he hadn’t left Bollywood for five years in the early 80s.

And then one day I saw him. He had come to canvass for his political party before the 1998 parliamentary elections in Delhi.

It was a sight to behold.

With a soothing smile, flowing kurta, a shawl draped around his nack and long tilak, he looked like a quintessential filmy neta, rather raajneta.

Nobody can close to Vinod Khanna in the cop’s role.
Nobody can close to Vinod Khanna in the cop’s role.

He had this air of supremacy, authority and control. Probably his dominating personality appealed to my father and his generation. Despite folded hands, he looked every bit the royalty Indian masses have always been in awe of.

It was in great contrast to the idea of democracy where most leaders try to look like commoners. His appearance probably won half the battle for himself.

This is why a recent picture, purportedly of Khanna, that went viral on social media shocked us. How could this happen to a good-looking person like Vinod Khanna, we wondered, though we were fully aware of what cancer can do to its victims.

He wasn’t the finest actor among his contemporaries, but he had a certain ‘weight’. When he says in Haath Ki Safai, “Bachche tum jis school se padh kea aye ho, hum uske principal reh chuke hain,” (Kid, I have been the principal of the school you went to), we know he means it.

That twitching smirk was worth a thousand dialogues.

Vinod Khanna and Pran in  a still from Amar Akbar Antony.
Vinod Khanna and Pran in a still from Amar Akbar Antony.

Other than actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Iftekhar and Jagdish Raj, Vinod Khanna was the one who glorified cops in Hindi films. From his initial films like Mastana and Sachcha Jhutha (1970) to Jaane Anjaane (1971) and Gaddar (1973), only a couple of years in the industry had made him one of the most recognisable faces.

Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor and Dharmendra were the only ones to brave the Amitabh Bachchan wave during the ‘70s.

Thanks to a series of ‘mardangi se bharpoor’ roles in Reshma Aur Shera, Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), Achanak (1973), Shaque and Hera Pheri (1976), Muqaddar Ka Sikander (1978), Lahu Ke Do Rang (1979), Qurbani (1980) and many other films, he ruled the roost for good 7-8 years.

Had it not been for Osho, he would have kept playing the morally uptight Thakur or the dreaded inspector in many other films.

Dayavan (1988) was, in a way, the beginning of his second innings. Nobody cared about the age of Vinod Khanna (46) when he rolled on the floor with Madhuri Dixit (21) in the song Aaj fir tum pe. He was the guy Indian audiences always wanted as their hero. Tall, well built, aloof and somewhat cynical.

Vinod Khanna with Meenakshi Seshadri in Mahadev.
Vinod Khanna with Meenakshi Seshadri in Mahadev. ( HT Photo )

But he was ageing, gracefully.

Later he started playing father to Sonam Kapoor (Players, 2012) and Salman Khan (Wanted and Dabangg), but even the simplest of roles couldn’t conceal his magnetism. There would invariably a scene or two in which the audience will get a chance to witness his old charm.

Cancer is ruthless. It’s all powerful, but even with all its might, it can never erase the craze that Vinod Khanna once generated.

Here’s to Vinod Khanna: Maine jab se hosh sambhala hai, khilauno ki jagah maut se khelta aaya hoon (Qurbani).

Follow @htshowbiz for more

First Published: Apr 27, 2017 13:42 IST

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