By Chayanika Joshi
Vinod Khanna, the original pin-up of Bollywood, is dead!
There shall be a thousand obits. I’ve already come across a few splendid tributes. Intense, macho, transcendental – he was an individual of many talents. Perhaps the most defining moment of his life was when he suddenly decided to bid adieu to the glamorous film industry in order to follow his guru Osho to America.
The year was 1982. Bollywood was stunned. How could a controversial Sanyasi pluck the reigning heartthrob out of tinsel town? The film magazines won’t stop babbling.
This was the equivalent of the finest gladiator leaving the arena, rather impulsively. In a first for the Bombay cine world, a leading star was quitting everything at the peak of his career: fame, money, stardom, queues of producers lined up, to seek his inner peace with a mentor he truly truly adored. Khanna called it his ultimate spiritual quest.
And just as he had snapped all his ties with everything dear, he decided to return years later: shaggy beard and long hair, prayer-bead made of blue olive berries around his neck, ever the debonair.
Last year I recall seeing that image in a magazine in Goa. It was powerful with ‘Back from the edge/Return of the prodigal’ feel. Those in my generation (and thereafter) don’t have enough memory of Vinod Khanna except for the fact that he used to be the original hippie and ‘cool’ bloke, much before college students started throwing the term around.
To the non-conformist, freethinking flowerchild on our part of the planet, Godspeed.