15 Best Brilliant Performances of Vinod Khanna
A legendary actor who gave a significant contribution to Bollywood in the 1970s took his last breath today. Vinod Khanna has been battling with cancer for the past few months, and his condition went worse this month. One of the last Bollywood stars born in British India, last one from Peshawar too, today with the return of this handsome actor to the other world, yet another chapter of glorious Bollywood yesterdays is closed forever. Yet through the numerous roles he portrayed over screen, he remains immortal in the hearts of millions of Bollywood fans. It’s my humble tribute to one of the great stars of glorious yesterdays. I would like to list some of his brilliant performances where he proved his excellence in acting. Also read: The Charming Star of Bollywood.
One of the big achievements of this great actor is that he has never been type casted to any single role or two. He excelled as lead hero as well as parallel lead, and he also entertained audience through his comedy timing, mostly associated with Amitabh Bacchan films. It’s quite surprising that he was paid more than Amitabh Bachchan for the movies – Parvarish, Hera Pheri, Khoon Pasina and Amar Akbar Anthony, though these movies are better known as Amitabh’s movies. These movies also played a significant role in cementing Big B’s position as the leading star of Bollywood.
Vinod Khanna also excelled in romantic and negative roles. He played a silent and calm person in many of Amitabh movies such as Amar Akbar Antony and Muqaddar Ka Sikander, where audience got opportunity to watch his romantic shades as well. Though majority of his career hits are multi-starrers, he also registered success in some of his signature roles like Imtihaan. He left the industry so suddenly in the early 1980s at the peak of his career to become a follower of the spiritual teacher Osho. When he made a hiatus return after 5 years in the late 1980s he delivered a string of hits and he also played lead role in critically acclaimed movie – Lekin.
Soon after he launched his son Akshaye Khanna to Bollywood in 1996, he moved to character roles. He was active throughout the scene for the next few years, and his delayed release, Ek Thi Rani Aisi Bhi got released last week. Debangg and Dilwale are among his recent noted roles on Bollywood big screen. In a career spanning to 50 years, he played 141 roles onscreen. Let us see some of his praise-worthy performances over the years. Here is the list of my top 15 choices. Also read: Top 12 songs featuring Vinod Khanna.
1. Imtihaan (1974) – I would like to begin this list with one of the early hits of Vinod Khanna where he played solo lead role. His role as college professor Pramod Sharma who tries to reform his college students is one of the memorable roles he essayed onscreen. Tanuja played his female lead, and Bindu appeared in a grey shaded supporting role. Music composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal was also well received. The movie was directed by Madan Sinha.
2. Haath Ki Safai (1974) – Throughout his acting career, Vinod Khanna earned Filmfare for lead/supporting actor role for Haath Ki Safai. He played the role of the elder brother who got separated from his younger brother, which earned him Filmfare award for best supporting actor. He shared screen space with Randhir Kapoor, Hema Malini, Simi Garewal and Ranjeet for this semi-hit, directed by Prakash Mehra. Khanna later teamed up with Mehra and Amitabh Bachchan, and delivered many blockbuster hits such as Khoon Pasina, Hera Pheri and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.
3. Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978) – As told above, it’s one of the major hits of Vinod Khanna’s career, and he played parallel lead in the movie directed by Prakash Mehra. Rakhee and Amitabh Bacchan completed the love triangle, and Rekha also played a pivot role in the movie. Definitely one of the 5 best roles of Khanna and Amitabh’s career, Khanna’s role as a lawyer also gave a few shades of his flexibility in handling romantic roles. The movie also showed the depth of true friendship onscreen.
4. Mera Gao Mera Desh (1971) – Vinod Khanna started off his career in the late 1960s playing negative shaded roles, and a few supporting roles. Later he rose to the position of lead antagonist for a few movies before moving to positive roles. Dharmendra and Asha Parekh played the lead roles, while Vinod Khanna played lead antagonist Jabbar Singh, a decoit in the movie directed by Raj Khosle. The movie was a major hit and its songs composed by Laxmikanth-Pyarelal too became chartbusters. He also played negative roles in Aan Milo Sajna, Reshma Aur Shera etc. Hum Tum Aur Woh in 1971 marked his switch over to lead hero roles.
5. Amar Akbar Antony (1977) – Amar Akbar Antony and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar are his most successful films aside Amitabh Bacchan, where they played onscreen brothers and Rishi Kapoor played their younger brother role. The movie explored the serious themes of religious harmony and secular nationalism, though told in Bollywood masala style. The movie was directed by Manmohan Desai. Vinod Khanna played the elder brother Amar, who was raised as a Hindu and became an inspector. Shabana Azmi played his female lead, and his screen chemistry with Shabana was well appreciated. They also shared screen space for Lahoo Ke Do Rang and Parvarish.
6. Hera Pheri (1976) – Yet another super hit film sharing screen space with Amitabh Bachchan. The movie was noticed for its hilarious comedy scenes. Vinod Khanna received a Filmfare nomination for Best Supporting Actor, the only nomination for the film directed by Prakash Mehra. The ensemble star cast included Saira Banu, Sulakshana Pandit, Pinchoo Kapoor, Asrani, P. Jairaj, Yunus Parvez and Shreeram Lagoo too.
7. Achanak (1973) – Inspired from the true events of the famous KM Nanavati murder case, Gulzar made Achanak which received rave reviews from critics. Gulzar marked his directorial debut with Mere Apne, which also starred Vinod Khanna in a pivot role. The movie was adapted on silver screen from Khwaja Ahmed Abbas story, The Thirteenth Victim. Vinod Khanna played the role of a soldier who kills his wife and his best friend for adulteration. The role gave him a real breakthrough in the entertainment industry, and there was no turning back after that. Nanavati’s case was most recently adapted on silver screen in 2016, and the movie titled Rustom earned Akshay Kumar National Award for best actor.
8. Mere Apne (1971) – The movie marked directorial debut of Gulzar. Remake of National award winning Bengali film Apanjan, the movie also starred Meena Kumari and Shatrughan Sinha in lead roles.
9. Parvarish (1977) – Yet another Bollywood blockbuster aside Amitabh Bachchan, it’s one of the light grey shaded roles he played after he established as a lead star. He played Amitabh’s brother who got distanced from him due to a misunderstanding. Shabana Azmi played his female lead, and ensemble star cast included Shammi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Kader Khan, Amjad Khan and Tom Alter. The movie was directed by Manmohan Desai.
He also worked with Big B for the movie, Khoon Pasina the same year, and tasted success. In fact after Emergency period was called off, three of their movies got released in 1977 – Khoon Pasina, Amar Akbar Antony and Parwarish, and all the movies were commercially successful. After Shashi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna is the only actor who tasted success with almost every film, where he shared screen space with Amitabh Bacchan. It was followed by the big success of Muqaddar Ka Sikandar the following year.
10. Mein Tulsi Tere Angan Ki (1978) – The movie directed by Raj Khosla is a woman-oriented film. Yet Khanna’s performance as Ajay, illegitimate child of Vijay Anand and Asha Parekh got noticed. The movie starred Nutan and Asha Parekh playing central roles.
11. Qurbani (1980) – Qurbani was the biggest hit of the year. Feroz Khan and Vinod Khanna played friends in the movie, and Zeenat Aman completed the love triangle. The movie was produced and directed by Feroz Khan himself. They were good off-screen friends too, and later they worked together for Dayavan – a blockbuster. It’s quite co-incidence that Vinod Khanna died on Feroz’s 8th death anniversary and both succumbed to cancer. Feroz died at the age of 69 and Vinod Khanna at the age of 70.
12. Dayavan (1988) – The movie inspired from Tamil cult classic, Nayagan starring Kamal Hassan was a huge blockbuster. Yet the movie is remembered most for the smooch between Madhuri Dixit and Vinod Khanna for a song sequence. The movie was directed by Feroz Khan, who played a major role in the film as well. Vinod Khanna played a powerful role of Shakti Velu, a don with a golden heart in this film.
13. Chandini (1989) – A milestone movie in Yash Chopra’s professional career, the movie also witnessed some stunning locations for the film sequences. It’s a love triangle played by Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor and Sri Devi. Vinod Khanna’s romantic avatar was well appreciated and the movie was a blockbuster. It’s the reunion of Rishi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna after a long decade, and Rishi Kapoor still shares a good relationship with him. The rain song – Lagi Aaj Saawan Ki featuring Suresh Wadkar was the highlight of the film.
14. Jurm (1990) – The movie is best known for the song, Jab Koi Baat Bikad Jaaye featuring Vinod Khanna. The film directed by Mahesh Bhatt was a major hit at box office too. Meenakshi Sheshadri played his female lead, and since his comeback, his pairing with the actress has been well-appreciated.
15. Lekin (1991) – I would like to conclude this list with the off-beat drama film directed by Gulzar, which accumulated numerous National Film awards, apart from Filmfare. The film was produced by Lata Mangeshkar, and Dimple Kapadia played the female lead in the film. Khanna played the role of a government employee, Sameer Niyogi who happens to encounter with a beautiful name in the desert land named Reva. Khanna has earlier worked with Hema Malini in one offbeat movie, Meera. Since early 1990s, Khanna has been a part of several masala movies, and Lekin is surely an exception.
Here I would like to conclude my article. You might be interested to read a few articles of Vinod Khanna, one of the dashing heroes of Bollywood ever.
I still remember the famous Cinthol ad on Doordarshan in the late 1980s, where Khanna as a model conquers and rides a horse on the sea shore. It’s one of my earliest childhood memories of Vinod Khanna. He might not have won too many awards for acting, yet definitely he has given some outstanding contributions to Bollywood’s commercial sector, particularly in the growing phase of commercial cinema in the 1970s.