Vinod Khanna, actor and politician, dies at 70

Actor and politician Vinod Khanna, known for delivering a string of commercial entertainers during the 1970s, died after a battle with cancer on Thursday morning


Born in Peshawar, Vinod Khanna was elected to Parliament from the Gurdaspur constituency in Punjab. Photo: AFP
Born in Peshawar, Vinod Khanna was elected to Parliament from the Gurdaspur constituency in Punjab. Photo: AFP

New Delhi: Veteran actor and politician Vinod Khanna, known for delivering a string of commercial entertainers during the 1970s, died after a battle with cancer on Thursday morning. He was 70.

Born in Peshawar, Khanna was elected to Parliament from the Gurdaspur constituency in Punjab.

One of the first actors to move to the lead after essaying negative roles, Khanna made his debut with Sunil Dutt’s Man Ka Meet in 1968 and went on to play the antagonist in a host of memorable films including Purab Aur Paschim, Sachaa Jhutha, Aan Milo Sajna, Mastana, Mera Gaon Mera Desh and Elaan. He got his first romantic solo lead in director Shiv Kumar’s drama Hum Tum Aur Woh in 1971 and followed it up with Gulzar’s critically acclaimed multi-starrer Mere Apne.

Much remembered for his appearances in several two-hero films alongside Amitabh Bachchan including Hera Pheri, Khoon Pasina, Amar Akbar Anthony, Zameer, Parvarish and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and Feroz Khan’s blockbuster action thriller Qurbani (1980), Khanna made sure he balanced them with solo projects during the period like Aap Ki Khatir and Raajmahal opposite Rekha, Khoon Ki Pukar, Shaque and Adha Din Aadhi Raat with Shabana Azmi, Aarop with Saira Banu, Taaqat with Rakhee and Parveen Babi, Jail Yatra opposite Reena Roy and Daulat with Zeenat Aman.

In 1982, the actor took a sabbatical and joined spiritual guru Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) for five years, making a comeback in 1987 with Insaaf opposite Dimple Kapadia and romantic outings like Jurm and Chandni. He continued the commercial streak in the 1990s with Kshatriya and Eena Meena Deeka, resorting to character roles post 2000 in hits like Wanted (2009), Dabangg (2010) and Dabangg 2 (2012). Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Dilwale remains his last big screen appearance.

Khanna joined the Bharatiya Janta Party in 1997 and has served as Union minister of culture and tourism and minister of state for external affairs. Union minister of finance, defence and corporate affairs Arun Jaitley expressed grief at Khanna’s demise.

“Condolences on sad demise of veteran actor & BJP MP Shri #VinodKhanna ji, may God render peace to the departed soul & solace to his family,” Jaitley tweeted.

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar also tweeted: “Sad to learn about the passing away of #VinodKhanna Sir, one of the most charismatic actors...truly end of an era. Condolences to the family.”

Khanna is survived by wife Kavita and children Rahul, Akshaye, Sakshi and Shraddha.

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