The uncensored Vinod Khanna  

Times news network (July 27, 2002)

Ups.And downs. His 55-year-long journey has been a roller-coaster ride for Vinod Khanna.
A childhood rich in memories was spend without the corrency of a free hand. The movies - his licence to the limelight - were overshadowed by the call of Osho''s commune.
But come open criticism or broken marriage, Vinod Khanna continues to live more by the spirit than the letter of life''s script. Anubha Sawhney records the unseen images behind the big picture as the abhineta-turned-neta dons the grease paint of his many avatars.

I was born October 6, 1946, in Peshawar. My father, KC Khanna, was a businessman who dealt in textiles, dyes & chemicals. My mother, Kamla, was a housewife. I am one of five children, with three sisters & a brother, ours was a joint family. Shortly after my birth, India was partitioned & we fled Peshawar.

TEACHER''S PET? THAT''S ME! We reached Bombay, where my father had an office. Initially, we stayed with friends & relatives. I attended Queen Mary''s School till class 2 & then shifted to St Xavier''s High School. I was a good student & favourite with the teachers. In 1957, when I was in class 6, we moved to Delhi.

I STILL CARRY MY SCHOOLDAYS WITH ME: We settled down in East Patel Nagar. School at DPS meant a lot of studying, a lot of sports & also a bit of theatre. While in class 9, my family moved back to Bombay & I was admitted to boarding school in Devlali. It made me tough. Around then, I watched Mughal-e-Azam - I was swept away.

I ALWAYS CONFRONTED MY FATHER: My father never asked me what I wanted to do - he just told me what I had to do. Even when I was in college, I had to confront my father to be allowed to party on weekends. This turned me into a rebel. My mother frequently made peace between father & son.

I MEET GITANJALI IN COLLEGE: I was a science student - and a good one at that. While I wanted to become an engineer, my father was determined that I take up commerce & join the family business. In fact, he got me admitted to Sydenham College without even informing me. But college life was fun - I was into theatre & had many girlfriends. What''s more, it was in college that I met Gitanjali. We liked each other & started going steady.

I ALMOST LOST MY CHANCE TO ENTER BOLLYWOOD: While at a party, I chanced upon Sunil Dutt, who was in the process of making a movie with two heroes, one of whom would be his brother. He offered me the other role. Iwas game but my father held a gun to my head & said he would shoot me if I ever entered Bollywood. Finally, my mother convinced him to allow me to join the industry & try my luck for two years - if I didn''t click, I would join the family business. Reel life was a cakewalk, real life wasn''t: After my first movie, Mann Ka Meet, was released, I got rave reviews. Within a week< I had signed 15 films. Since I had become successful, Gitanjali & I decided to get married. But buying a house was tough. Nobody wanted an actor as a neighbour.

FAMILY LIFE IS IMPORTANT: We had Rahul a year after marriage &, later on, Akshaye. At that time, I was the only actor apart from Shashi Kapoor who didn''t work on Sundays, when I spent time with my family.

THEY CALLED ME THE SEXY SANYASI: I have always been a seeker. In the film industry, I had money, glamour, fame but wondered - how what? Initially, I visited Osho''s ashram in Pune. I was finally initiated on December 31, 1975. When I announced my retirement from films, nobody believed me. I was called the "sexy-sanyasi".I took it in my stride.

I WAS OSHO''S MALI: I am one of the few Indians to have stayed with Osho in Rajneeshpuram, the city he built in America. Osho was always known as a sex guru since he was the one who exposed Indians to therapy groups - but he taught us to transcend sex & use it to heal ourselves. I spent four years with Osho. I was his gardener, I cleaned the toilets, I did the dishes, & his clothes were tried out on me because we were, physically, of the same stature.

GITANJALI COULDN''T TAKE IT ANY MORE: While I was at Rajneeshpuram, I was in touch with my family over the phone. But those were terrible times for my sons - they didn''t have me around & people said: Tumhara baap apne guru ke saati bhaag gaya. Reports of what I had done never bothered me until they started bothering those I loved. But by then, it was too late. Gitanjali and I settled for divorce. When I returned to India, I had nothing.

I WENT BACK TO BOLLYWOOD: Returning to the movies was the easy part. It was leaving my guru in America which was an almost - impossible decision - so attached was I to Osho. He asked me to run the Puna ashram, but I said "no". That is the most difficult "no" I have ever said in my life. I wanted to return to my work, to my family, to my friends. Fortunately, when I came back to the movies, Iwas accepted once again.

I LOVE THE GOOD LIFE: The first car I bought with my own money was a VW Beetle. I''ve boutght the best in cars - a Mercedes Benz, a BMW, a Porsche, a Cadillac. I have spent my money on what I enjoy. I believe in having the best of everything - be it apartments, cars or food. But I have never ever squandered my money.

KAVITA RECOGNISES THE REAL ME: Kavita first visited my house with some friends on my birthday. There was definitely some chemistry, but it wasn''t love at first sight. She is years younger than me &, initially, was wary of my phone calls. With the help of common friends, I finally managed to take her out for a drive. Frequent meetings followed & we discovered common interests. She realised that Iwas not the man that she had read about. We were married on May 15, 1990. We have a son, Sakshi, & a daughter, Shraddha. My daughter literally twirls me around her little finger! Kavita is great friends with Rahul & Akshaye.

I DIDN''T EVEN KNOW WHERE GURDASPUR WAS: After making people happy with my performances as an actor, I felt it was time to serve the nation. The day I joined the BJP, I was informed that I would represent the party in Gurdaspur. I was taken aback. I didn''t even know where Gurdaspur was. But I put my heart & soul into my constituency. Today, as a minister, I am completely fired up about my portfolio & have lots of plans for tourism.

EVERYTHING IS A MANIFESTATION OF GOD: I have a vision & believe in making my own destiny. Spirituality is the transcendence of beliefs & systems. It involves gaining mastery over the mind. Spiritualism brings about peace of mind - it destroys everything that is negative. Everything around us, whether good or bed, is a manifestation of God.


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