Veteran actor-turned-BJP politician Vinod Khanna dead
Mumbai, April 27 (IANS) Veteran Bollywood actor-turned-politician and former union Minister Vinod Khanna died here on Thursday morning after a prolonged illness, a family friend said. He was 70.
Khanna was hospitalized over a month ago for cancer but the family then remained tight-lipped.
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.