Vinod Khanna

- Vikram Chandiramani 

If you had spoken to the stuntmen during the days of 'Mera Gaon Mera Desh' (1971, they would frankly say that Vinod Khanna was tougher than his senior, Jat hero Dharmendra.

Few people know that Vinod readily agreed to be harshly beaten and bloodied in a fight scene with Dharam. Khanna made his debut in 'Man ka Meet' (1969), a film Sunil Dutt produced to launch his brother Som Dutt. Som was the hero and Vinod the villain. Yet, very soon, the handsome villain was being pursuaded to become a hero, after he established his credentials in the negative roles he did in 'Sacha Jhootha' and 'Aan Milo Sajna'.    

He got an identity in 'Mere Apne' (1972) and 'Achanak' (1973). His piercing eyes and tough looks came across well. Though he played a gang-leader in 'Mere Apne' and the killer of his wife and her lover in 'Achanak', he was seen as a hero material and soon made a winning team with Amitabh Bachchan in films like 'Hera Pheri', 'Amar Akbar Anthony', 'Parvarish', 'Khoon Pasina' and 'Muqaddar ka Sikandar'. He might have even toppled Amitabh, the reigning King, but found himself straying towards the godman Bhagwan Rajneesh, in search of the answers he needed. Answers to a mind troubled by his mother's death. He deserted his work, films, wife , two sons and lifestyle, joining the band of Rajneesh-ites in an attempt to find peace of mind.

Yet, when he returned after a few years producers were ready with film offers and sacks of money. The second innings began with a hit, 'Insaaf' (1987), but though he did several films, his heart did not seem quite into it. He met and married Kavita Daftary from the eminent Daftry family and has a daughter by her.

Nearly a decade ago, Vinod Khanna surprised the people by joining active politics. He contested elections on BJP ticket from his home town Gurdaspur and won. He is a Member of Parliament for the third time now.

His recent releases have been Risk (2007) and Deewanapan (2002).