Vinod Khanna was a superstar when I was born in the late 1970s. His aura was inescapable when I was growing up. He was, after all, part of the legendary triumvirate along with Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan. But when I met Vinod Ji for the first time in 2004, when I joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, he had so much compassion and humility that he never made me feel like I was sitting with a superstar.
For me, Vinod Ji was more than just a politician and an actor. He was a friend and senior colleague. Everyone saw him as a superstar who left everything when he was at the pinnacle of his career. I think that sense of detachment stayed with him till the end. Ever since I met him, I wanted to ask him a question, which I eventually did one day — “Vinod Ji, why did you do it? Why did you quit?” He replied calmly, “Because peace mattered to me much more than anything else.”
When I met Vinod Khanna, I saw a man who was satisfied with life. I saw a man who was never rattled or frustrated. Superstars often have a reputation of being difficult. But when I saw Vinod Ji, I saw a man who was pleasant, deep and sincere in everything he did. As an actor, he worked till the last few days of his life and did a stellar job. Many senior actors, when they become character actors, get relegated to the background. But Vinod Ji stood out even in his last days.Vani Tripathi Tikoo
He understood politics and had a deep connect with the people of Gurdaspur, who sent him to the Lok Sabha four times. One day, after 2009, we were sitting at his house in Mumbai and he was getting flooded with phone calls from Gurdaspur. He smiled and said to me, “Look, I am not even the MP any longer. And still people call me.” He was proud of his connect with the people.
The first time I visited Gurdaspur, I saw the excellent work he had done. The people loved him, not for being a superstar but for being a good MP. He even brought a bit of his art to politics. One day, during the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign, he was in Gurdaspur along with his wife Kavita and he asked me if we can produce a street play in Punjabi. It was a raging success. People still remember it.
Vinod Khanna was many persons rolled into one. So how would I like to remember Vinod Khanna? I will remember him as the man who was loved by the people, and the man who knew how to love them back. Of course, his beautiful smile will stay with me forever. The grandeur of the handsome Vinod Khanna, who people have doted on since the 1970s, will be remembered by one and all. But I want to let everyone know that the superstar Vinod Khanna was not very different from the real man inside the superstar persona. Both were compassionate and large-hearted men. In this hour of grief, my heart goes out to Kavita and the family. I know they had a difficult few days and pray that they get the strength to get through this.Vani Tripathi Tikoo is an actor and former BJP National Secretary. Views are personal. (As told to Uday Singh Rana)