Noontime is the most boring time for a retired person and I’m no exception to it. I read till the “Printed & Published by” on the last page of the news daily and before boredom engulfed me, I latched on to the ever obedient remote to see what the idiot box had to say. The shocking news of the demise of our dearest Vinod Khannaji jolted me, sadness and helplessness encircled me all over. We all knew he was ailing (thanks to the cruelties of WhatsApp for putting his ailing snap which was unpardonable) but never did we realise that the inevitable death would snatch him in his sweet 70s.
The man Adonis of Bollywood in all respects, his gait, erect, confident stance, well-built yet lean body with muscles at the right places in right proportion, had all the eves swooning over him & his envious (to the men folk) physique. Gentlemanliness & class written all over, he was endearing to all with awe & pride. With an arresting personality, he had his presence felt in each of his movie & left his charisma all over. Be it the dreaded daaku in Mera Gaon Mera Desh, giving Dharamji a run for his money & the poor man’s vamp Laxmi Chhaya going mad over him or his villainous but sympathetic ending role in Khoon Pasina pitted against Big B, his stamp is unforgettable. Even the 1st Super Star of Bolywood Rajesh Khannaji was a bit uneasy in Aan Milo Sajna pitted against the suave villainy of Vinod Khannaji despite hogging the best dialogues & lipping the best songs, fearing that he would walk away with honours with his villainous role and fights a treat to watch.
I was fortunate like many others of our generation to absorb the great Big B – Vinodji jodi in those wonderful super-duper movies like Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish, Khoon Pasina, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar to name a few. How well they complemented each other, the strong chemistry, be it the punch to punch dialoges, screen presence or those unforgettable fights with their Daddy Long Legs being the main tool. Despite Anthony Bhai & Akbar Bhaijaan hogging the meatiest dialogues, scenes & songs, Inspector Amar had his way, his presence felt even if he had to lip “Tere Sang Jeevan Ki Dor Bandhi Hai” with the de-glamorous but talented Shabanaji. I vividly recollect watching it at Jaya Cinema in Borivili with a group of friends, 2nd day of its release in 1977. I can never forget the wonderfully posturized fight scene at Anthony Wadi between Big B & Vinodji, all check to check fights, climaxing in Vinodji carrying a deflated Big B with the murgis & goats coming out of a ramshackle hut, huge applause reverberating the hall. The scene at the police station, another unforgettable masterpiece just comes before my eyes even after 4 decades. Vinodji tries to find out the assaulter of his mentor & boss Kamal Kapoor, from a gang of 5 hoodlums as he says “Hamare Saheb Par Kisne Goli chalaayi” & with a whirl of his left hand slaps the 1st hoodlum and all the rest falling down in the domino effect. They were unforgettable scenes.
His unforgettable role as an unemployed frustrated gang in Gulzar Sahib’s “Mere Apne” was another feather in his cap leading him to stardom. His dialogues with the scene stealer Shatruji was wonderful. Even today, on umpteen Sunday afternoons, I never miss watching Mere Apne on Doordarshan. His foray into ad world with the Cinthol Ad had women of the country go orgasmic gaga watching his lean muscular bare body emerging out of the rising waves, creating madness all over with Cinthol sales pitching up and a gleeful Godrej beaming with pride. Such was his personality. It was all his natural trait with no six packs of today.
His entry to spirituality in 80s leaving Bollywood, albeit, temporarily, did good for him & his contemporaries then, who heaved a sigh of relief. A philanthropist, likeable MP, his concern for the not well off in the industry is well known.
I am yet to recover from the irreparable loss of the trio Dev Saheb, Shammi Kapoorji & Rajesh Khannaji. Now another loss has weakened me a lot. Yet life has to move on they say.
The apt line for you Vinodji, on this solemn occasion, is
“Tere Bina Bhi Kya Jeena, O Saathi Re”