My great degree of initial hatred for Vinod Khanna stemmed from a sequence in Amar Akbar Anthony in which he is shown as effortlessly dismantling the otherwise angry young man Amitabh Bachchan.
I had a serious liking for Bachchan, for, his characters in many flicks looked vulnerable, one from among many of us, the escapists. On the other hand, Vinod Khanna, to me, appeared more of a royal, tough and confident chap, someone I would not find a connect with.
On top of that, him mauling Bachchan with absolute disdain in that particular scene rubbed a credulous fan of the lanky superstar the wrong way. Less than 10 then, I would not realise it was a scripted on-screen sequence.
My frenzy for Bachchan had pushed me towards puerility. I had, in my personal capacity, boycotted watching Vinod Khanna’s films. (I did the same in case of Sunny Deol few years later for having committed “sin” of deflating Shahrukh Khan in Darr).
All this changed, when I saw Qurbani. I watched it after learning about Vinod Khanna’s death sequence in the film. I was seeking a strange on-screen revenge in my mind. But it was not to be the case. The way the film unfolded, his character had shattered my filmy disrespect for him. He looked every bit of what a Bachchan fan would want to see (some may find him even better).
Few years later, Dayavan, loosely based on don Varadarajan’s life, completed the formality. I had also grown enough to understand films are fictitious and became an admirer of Vinod Khanna’s work (and also of Deol few years down the line).
Khanna’s too early an exit, after having filled my mind with hatred and then conquering it, ergo, deeply saddens me. It fast took me down the memory lane: of my childhood passion for cinema, to the days of touring talkies when multiplex was an alien concept, to the days when watching films in theatres was a luxury and days when we stood divided for our favourite actors, hating their business rivals like hell. Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia.
Kamaal kar gaye Pandey ji aap bhi…