By R.k. Bhatnagar
March 25, 1999
Vinod Khanna, the 52-year-old filmstar-turned-politician, is tall, handsome and speaks fluent English, Hindi and Punjabi. His Bollywood career has been illustrious and his life colourful. He has more than 100 films to his credit and he treads a chequered path. He has been the centre of starstruk adulation, a disciple at the Ashram of Osho Rajneesh and is currently a member of the Lok Sabha elected on a BJP ticket from Gurdaspur, Punjab.
Despite all this he is modest and down to earth. His is firmly rooted to the soil of this country. He hails from a family of freedom fighters who stood for the concept of undivided and Independent India.
Khanna was born with a silver spoon in his mouth in a business family in Peshavar, Pakistan. His folks migrated to Bombay much before the Partition in 1947.
He has the proverbial Midas touch making gold of whatever he touches. A brilliant student, he made his Bollywood debut in Sunil Dutt''s Man Ka Meet. According to him, it widened his horizons and led him to a resounding success - the film Mera Gaon Mera Desh
Vinod Khanna won the Filmfare award for best supporting actor for Haath Ki Safai in 1974. He also received the National Youth Film award, as well as the Koomar International Art Academy Award for the best actor in film Imtihaan the same year. He also bagged the Film World''s best actor award for his performance in the film Shaque.
Besides being an actor, a film producer and a good father, Khanna is a keen environmentalist, philanthropist and an active supporter of the World Wide Fund for Nature, Beauty without Cruelty, CRY and Drug Abuse Information Rehabilitation Centre.
He also has the distinction of being one of the highest tax payers in Mumbai and has won many awards for outstanding work as a citizen and for rendering exceptional services. An admirer of Rajiv Gandhi for his youthful appearance he joined politacs at the behest of BJP stalwarts Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani.
Q. After your successful career in a high profile film industry full of glamour, how does it feel to be a people''s representative? And what, in your opinion, should be the role of an MP?
A. It is true that I have joined the mainstream of India public life after giving up a career of glamour, fame and money. I joined the BJP to fulfill my desire of serving the people and the nation. Having been elected from Gurdaspur in my first attempt with a margin of over one lakh votes it gives me a great opportunitu to work for the welfare of the people and solve their problems.
Q. Could you please recall your film career? How many films you acted in and which ones you rate as your best and why?
A. Till now, I have acted in over one hundred films and I am still going strong. It is difficult for me to say which one of them was the best. But if you insist then my last movie Dayavan was very good. It was also critically acclaimed and at the same time was satisfying for me. A number of my films were great successes: Amar Akbar Anthony, Qurbani, and Chandni to mention a few.
Q. What preciise roles have your wife and children played in your life so far?
A. I have married twice. My first wife was a housewife and mother of two children - Akshaye and Rahul. My second wife Kavita is a businesswoman and a graduate from the London School of Economics and a barrister at law. I have an apartment on Malabar Hills in Mumbai and live happy. In Delhi I have an MP''s bungalow.
Q. Your son Akshaye has already achieved a big success in a RK banner film. How much have you inspired him?
A. He is a popular actor with a very bright future. I introduced him in my film Himalaya Putra. He is now a major star and I am proud of him.
Q. What is your advice to your countrymen?
A. I can do no better then to repeat the words of great American President John F Kennedy: " Ask Not what the country can for you. Ask what you can do for the country."