NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: Actor-politician Vinod Khanna has died in a Mumbai hospital this morning. He was 70. A statement from HN Reliance Foundation and Research Centre in Girgaon read: “Veteran actor and Member of Parliament Mr. Vinod Khanna, who was admitted to the Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital breathed his last at 11.20 am due to advanced bladder carcinoma
Mr Khanna was taken to hospital some weeks ago, ostensibly to be treated for dehydration. His son Rahul Khanna told days after he was hospitalised, “Dad was hospitalised on Friday for severe dehydration. The situation was quickly brought under control, he’s doing much better and the doctors are looking to discharge him soon. Our family is most grateful for the extraordinary care he’s been receiving at the hospital and we are touched by all the good wishes pouring in.”
A photo of a very frail Mr Khanna in hospital was circulated a while ago, prompting angry posts on social media asking that the actor’s privacy be respected – a plea that is being repeated on Twitter today.Mr Khanna’s colleagues have reacted with grief. Actor Rishi Kapoor, his co-star from Amar Akbar Anthony and Chandni, wrote “Will miss you, Amar” in a tweet.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, who was a follower of Osho with Mr Khanna in the Eighties, told NDTV, “I am poorer today with his passing away. He was one giant who touched my heart deeply. He trusted me when I was in my struggling years. We had adventures together. We went to the spiritual enlightenment. This took us to Osho. We drank, we fought, we loved each other. He was tough, lion hearted and generous. He had the guts to risk his all.”
According to filmmaker Sudhir Mishra , “None of the younger actors after him had that kind of swag and charisma to play that jealous husband in Achanak. He was at the top of his game. He was a genuine big actor, star and a man who was adored by cinema.”
Vinod Khanna was one of the top stars of the Seventies and Eighties and was known for his macho image. He made his debut in 1968 film Mann Ka Meet, playing the villain opposite Sunil Dutt. He continued playing negative roles and supporting characters in films like 1970’s Purab Aur Paschim and 1971’s Mera Gaon Mera Desh. In the same year, he was cast as the lead actor in Hum Tum Aur Woh and then in the Gulzar-directed Mere Apne.
Vinod Khanna starred in several major films like Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish, Hera Pheri and Muqqadar Ka Sikander before spending five years as a disciple of spiritual teacher Osho. Mr Khanna returned to films in 1987’s Insaaf and also had a big film in Chandni. He continued working through the Nineties and the 2000s. He had a role in both Salman Khan’s Dabangg movies and his last screen appearance was opposite Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in 2015’s Dilwale.
Vinod Khanna was the parliamentarian from Gurdaspur in Punjab, a seat he win several times on a BJP ticket. He also served as the Union Minister for Culture and Tourism and Minister of State for External Affairs.Vinod Khanna was married twice. He has two sons, Rahul and Akshaye, with first wife Geetanjali, and a son and daughter with second wife Kavita, who survives him.
A shocking photo of the ailing actor during his treatment in the hospital had gone viral on social media recently. The photograph in question was extremely shocking because none had seen him in such a condition. His family wanted people to respect their privacy.
Khanna began his acting career by essaying negative characters. Eventually he went on to play the lead role in films. He featured in some of the biggest Bollywood hits like ‘Mere Apne’, ‘Insaaf’, ‘Parvarish’, ‘Muqaddar Ka Siqandar’, ‘Qurbani’, ‘Dayavaan’, ‘Mera Gaon Mera Desh’, ‘Chandni’, ‘The Burning Train’ and ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ among many others.
Khanna was first elected from Gurdaspur in 1998. He was re-elected in the 1999 and 2004 general elections. He lost narrowly in 2009 to Pratap Singh Bajwa (Congress).He avenged his defeat in 2014 by winning from Gurdaspur for the fourth time. A Punjabi born in Peshawar (now in Pakistan), Khanna remained popular in the constituency despite accusations that he remained absent from the area most of the time.
Vinod Khanna’s Amar Akbar Anthony co-star Amitabh Bachchan was shocked by the news and left a Sarkar 3 promotional event mid-way and is currently on his way to the hospital. Singer Asha Bhosle paid condolence to the family and wrote, “Very sad to hear about Vinod Khannaji. A decent man and a star till the very end.”He is survived by sons – Akshaye, Rahul, Sakshi, daughter Shraddha and wife Kavita. His last rites will be performed at the Banganga crematorium at 4.30 pm today.
(With PTI inputs)