Article Hindi

Amitabh Bachchan remembers co-star Vinod Khanna in heartfelt blog post

The two actors frequently acted together in the 1970s and were part of hits like Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Hera Pheri (1976) and Parvarish (1977).

Sonal Pandya

A day after Vinod Khanna's death from cancer on 26 April, his former co-star Amitabh Bachchan remembered him on his blog. The superstar recalled how he first met him in the Ajanta Arts office in Bandra. Khanna's first film was in Sunil Dutt's home production Man Ka Meet (1969), while Bachchan too was a newcomer whose first film Saat Hindustani also came out the same year. 

Bachchan wrote, "I first saw him entering the Ajanta Arts office in Bandra, of Sunil Dutt, where I was making my way to seek a job .. a most good looking handsome young man .. a body in elegant frame ..  a swagger in his walk .. and a gentle smile as he looked towards me." Eventually the two actors were cast in Reshma Aur Shera (1971) produced by Sunil Dutt. Bachchan kept reiterating how kind and approachable Khanna was to him as he was already a star. 

Bachchan is actually five years older than Khanna, but he has always had a high regard for his friend and frequent co-star. He shared his fond memories shooting in Rajasthan for Reshma Aur Sherma, saying, it was his first brush with the way the film industry functioned. While shooting in difficult conditions in the desert, the cast enjoyed the carefree days.

Even after they returned from the shoot, Khanna kept in touch with him. Bachchan says he was "most humble with selfless concern for others .. the rides he would take me on, in his recently acquired Beetle VolksWagen, yellow in color .. his generosity in smuggling me into the only Disco Club in the city at the Taj, where he was a member, and I not even remotely in any state to become one .. his marriage to Geetanjali, whom he and we all fondly called Gitly .. the birth of his sons, Rahul and Akshay (sic), whom he often brought on to the sets of AAA [Amar Akbar Anthony]."

Amitabh Bachchan also pointed out the amazing chemistry the two had on the films that they worked together on. He remembers being with him after his father passed away after the shooting of Reshma Aur Shera and the two actors continued their association, "spending time in each others make-up rooms, sharing our lunch, just biding time and talking of all kinds of talk .. the late shoot pack ups and the beyond midnight drives to Juhu Beach, to just sit with our directors and he to have a drink, and I mine (I used to in those days)."

Vinod Khanna, Saira Banu and Amitabh Bachchan in Hera Pheri (1976)

One incident which Bachchan is still remorseful about from one of their films was when he hit Khanna on the chin when he had to throw a glass at him. The glass cut him right to his teeth. Bachchan had to rush him to the doctor for stitches and took him home, apologising all the way. But Amitabh also remembered the happy memories when he called Khanna in the middle of the night from his hotel room as he was lonely and the big star helped out the newcomer by keeping him company. 

He wrote, "His confident charm was infectious, there was always an optimistic swagger about him - a smile, a laugh, a casualness, nothing seemed to disturb him one felt ... the relaxed ‘cool’ of today’s times. The jigs we would invent on set .. impromptu songs .. when 5 Librans working together in the same film at the same scene would break into - Shammi Kapoor ji, Amjad, Kader Khan, Vinod and I - our little ditty, on the sets of Manmohan Desai’s “Parvarish”, ‘We are crazy Librans .. **%#@!! up this film” .. !!! And the uproarious laughter that followed each shot that we gave together."

And then one day, Khanna gave up stardom and fame in 1982 to follow Rajneesh, his spiritual guru, to California. Bachchan wrote of his friend's beliefs and passions at the time, "I met him in Los Angeles during this period on a stray visit, and he spent hours at a common friend’s place explaining to me what the movement meant not just to him, but to the world in general."

Vinod Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan in Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978)

Although they hadn't worked together since Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), Bachchan always had great admiration for Vinod Khanna. He ended his blog post stating, "This man .. this body of enthused energy and giving .. this friend .. this colleague .. this ever smiling swagger infested individual, lay motionless. No one walked the way he did .. no one had the presence he had in a crowded room .. no one could lighten up the surroundings he was in, like him .. no one .."

Their long association and friendship of 48 years has come to an end.