A lot of crocodile tears are being shed, by the so-called close-friends and admirers of the late actor Vinod Khanna who have suddenly crawled out of their hiding places to shout out their Tarzan-like appreciation of VK’s craft and highly amplified versions of the star-actor’s place in cinematic history.
But a close friend of the Khanna family says no one was with the family during the time of their scion’s death. “And that’s the way the Khanna family wanted it. Vinod Khanna’s wife Kavita and his two sons Rahul and Akhsaye from his first marriage are fiercely private people. They didn’t want Vinod’s illness in the public domain. They didn’t encourage visitors when he Vinod was in hospital. In fact when that picture showing a frightfully ill Vinod went viral the family was disgusted and extremely miffed.”
The one real friend from the entertainment industry that Vinod Khanna had was writer-filmmaker Gulzar.
Vinod’s death has shattered Gulzar. A close family member of Gulzar reveals, “After the death of Sanjeev Kumar, Rahul Dev Burman and Jagjit Singh this is the fourth very personal loss for Gulzar Saab. He is devastated.”
Says a source close to Gulzar Saab, “He has gone very very quiet after Vinod’s death. Gulzar Saab was very close to Vinod from the time he directed Vinod in his directorial debut Mere Apne.”
When we were talking about Mere Apne Gulzar Saab had once told me, “I worked with two lifelong friends on the sets of my first film, Meena Kumariji and Vinod.”
In fact Gulzar Saab and VK became so close that Shatrughan Sinha who played the other lead in Mere Apne cribbed good-naturedly, “Gulzar has adopted Vinod. And disowned me.’ Sure enough, Vinod and Gulzar Saab went on to team up with some of Vinod’s most important work as a leading man in Achaanak, Meera and Lekin.
Gulzar Saab never worked with Shatrughan again.
Not many know this. But Gulzar Saab and Vinod Khanna also had the opportunity to work together as actors. It was a historical film called Jallianwala Bagh directed by one Balraj Tah in 1977 shot in London where Gulzar Saab got another opportunity to bond with Vinod Khanna. It was an ensemble cast that also featured father and son Balraj and Parikashat Sahni. Gulzar Saab faced the camera for the first time, and Vinod Khanna was a big help.
Years later when Lata Mangeshkar turned producer and signed Gulzar to direct the eerie enchanting romantic musical Lekin it was on Gulzar Saab’s recommendation that Vinod Khanna was signed to play the lead.
“It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say Gulzar saab has lost his last close friend from the film industry,” a very close family friend of filmmaker said to me on the day of the actor’s death.
Strangely I now see Gulzar Saab singing the song that Vinod Khanna sang in Mere Apne, ‘Koi Hota Jissko Apna Hum Apna Keh Lete Yaaron, Paas Nahin Toh Dur Hi Hota Lekin Koi Mera Apna….’”