Mumbai: Bollywood has consistently and notoriously been obsessed with conventional and unattainable physical beauty, often showing immense willingness to overlook a comprehensive absence of talent and calibre. Then walked in a strapping, tall and ridiculously good looking Punjabi lad, one so handsome that it wouldn’t have been criminal to assume he was devoid of talent, as had been the generic convention.
However, Vinod Khanna had talent in abundance, with his brooding, raw appeal and an uncharacteristic versatility, uncommon circa the 1970s, when stars and superstars had made careers out of getting themselves stereotyped.
Here was a man, who was willing to play the villain, the second fiddle, the inconsequential parallel lead, and still one who walked away with all the applause. The applause and the subsequent androgynous fan following, were testimony to his potential.
But sadly, this talent was seldom tapped to its fullest. The Amitabh Bachchans and Rajesh Khannas, and even the Rishi Kapoors in later years would walk away with the meatier parts, often leaving Khanna to excel in the blatantly limited roles he’d ultimately end up playing.
The actor’s decision to quit movies altogether, to shun glamour and embrace the world of spirituality under the guidance of Osho Rajneesh, who and whose ideologies he had reportedly got obsessed with, right before he made the drastic decision.
The fact that filmmakers queued outside his house years later, when he finally made the much yearned reappearance, established how sorely the industry had missed the actor in him.
But one can’t say with as much confidence that Vinod Khanna got his due when he really deserved it and when he really was up for it....