Mumbai–Veteran Bollywood actor-turned-politician and former union Minister Vinod Khanna died here on Thursday morning after a prolonged illness. He was 70. Khanna was hospitalized over a month ago for cancer but the family then remained tight-lipped.
A large number of Bollywood personalities attended the last rites of Khanna at the Worli Hindu Crematorium here on Thursday evening.
His son, Sakshi lit the funeral pyre a short while after his flower-bedecked body was brought from their Malabar Hill residence where it was kept for people to pay homage.
Khanna, 70, passed away after battling bladder cancer plunging the country’s entertainment industry into grief.
A large number of teary-eyed actors, producers, directors and a few actresses, his colleagues in the Bharatiya Janata Party, fans and admirers also turned up to pay their final respects both at his home and the crematorium.
Among the prominent ones seen at the funeral rites were Amitabh Bachchan, his son Abhishek, Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and son Ranvir Kapoor, Kabir Bedi, Danny Denzongpa, Arjun Rampal, Jackie Shroff, Jeetendra, Dia Mirza, Puneet Issar, writer-poet Gulzar, directors Ramesh Sippy, Ramesh Taurani, Subhash Ghai, NCP leader Praful Patel, and BJP MP Kirit Somaiya among many more.
A large number of fans and admirers of the late actor waited on both sides of the streets to catch a last glimpse of their favourite actor as the funeral procession wended its way from Malabar Hill to the crematorium.
Khanna is survived by his former wife Geetanjali and their sons Akshaye and Rahul, who are now actors, and his present wife Kavita and son Sakshi and daughter Shraddha.
The senior Khanna was admitted to Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital in the first week of April.
In a brief statement, the hospital said Khanna breathed his last at 11.20 a.m. due to advanced bladder carcinoma.
The actor was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of the Lok Sabha from Gurdaspur in Punjab. He was into his fourth term as MP from the seat.
Starting his career with minor roles in 1969, the actor built up a hugely successful career.
He featured in some of the biggest Bollywood hits like “Mere Apne”, “Insaaf”, “Parvarish”, “Muqaddar Ka Siqandar”, “Qurbani”, “Dayavaan”, “Mera Gaon Mera Desh”, “The Burning Train” and “Amar Akbar Anthony”.
Born in Peshawar (now in Pakistan) into a business family, he attended St. Mary’s School in Mumbai and St. Xaviers High School and Delhi Public School in Delhi and later the Barnes School, Nashik.
He graduated in B.Com from Mumbai’s Sydenham College.
The Bollywood bug bit the young Khanna after watching the Dilip Kumar-Madhubala epic “Mughal-E-Azam” and the Dev Anand-Waheeda Rehman starrer “Solva Saal”.
Initially, he started in small roles and grew to playing mostly villains opposite some of the biggest names of that era before seamlessly graduating to lead characters.
At the height of his career, Khanna suddenly took ‘sanyas’ in 1982 to become a disciple of Bhagwan Rajneesh, the founder of Osho, and lived in Pune for five years.
He returned to Bollywood in 1987 and simultaneously got into electoral politics.
He was appointed the Minister of State for Culture and Tourism and later the Minister of State for External Affairs in the government of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Khanna was first elected from Gurdaspur in 1998. He was re-elected in 1999 and 2004. He lost narrowly in 2009 to Pratap Singh Bajwa (Congress).
He avenged his defeat in 2014 by winning from Gurdaspur for the fourth time.
Khanna remained popular in the constituency despite accusations that he remained absent from the area most of the time. (IANS)