I’ll always remember Vinod as a thorough gentleman — cultured, polite and someone who knew how to conduct himself with the ladies. With him, things were always proper on the sets. He would come on time, say his polite ‘hello’, shoot and leave. There was never any question of unpleasantness. The first film we did together was Bombay 405 Miles. We then came together for the Feroz Khan-starrer blockbuster Qurbani. We would come on the sets, do our work and go away. There were never any fireworks or excitement when we were shooting together. We didn’t meet in recent years — he had his own life and I had mine. And now we shall never meet.
I met Vinod Khanna last year at the convocation of Whistling Woods film school, when he was honoured with a ‘Maestro Award’ by the students for his outstanding contribution to films. A real handsome man — both on and off screen. He celebrated his life with love, dignity and compassion for others in service to his nation as MP. He will always live on in my heart and mind.
It’s a big loss to the industry of course, and a personal loss to me because he was a very dear friend of mine. We worked together, but I knew him since our college days. He was a fine gentleman, a good-looking actor and above all, a great human being. I shall miss him.
Achanak is a film that changed my life. When I saw it at 18 for the first time, I was encouraged to become a director. This man didn’t know it at that time. But Vinod Khanna was a precursor Stallone in First Blood. It’s the story of a betrayed commando who goes on a rampage. Sylvester Stallone did it many years ago. Now I want to see where I can take this character as I am all set to remake the movie.
Our last film together, Ek Rani Aisi Bhi, was released a few days ago. And now, he’s gone! Vinod Khanna was a very fine gentleman, educated, articulate and well-informed. I have had the opportunity to work with him in several capacities. In Gulzar Saab’s Meera, he brought such calm and understanding to his role. He was like that in real life too. On the sets, I would spend a lot of time discussing Acharya Rajneesh with him. I wanted to understand what it was about that man that made Vinod leave his career and join him in Oregon for five years. I came into politics because of Vinod Khanna; he insisted. That’s how my career in politics started. It’s sad that he is no more!