In the 1970s Vinod Khanna was the darling of the nation, the action hero, the dancing star and what not! He entered the Hindi film industry at its critical phase. His demise at the age of 71 in 2017 left his fans, friends, family and co-actors heartbroken. On Sunday evening, his first wife Geetanjali (70) too passed away. Here we take a look at the tumultuous love life of Vinod Khanna and his two marriages. These incidents and his abrupt disappearance from Bollywood for spiritual pursuits with controversial guru Osho -- Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh -- and belated comeback marked by success in electoral politics too are fit for a cinematic venture in these days when biopics are churned out too often.
Born on October 6, 1946 in a middle class family in Peshawar, Khanna family was involved with business in textiles and dyes. It was after the partition that the family shifted to Mumbai and later moved to New Delhi.
After finishing his schooling in Delhi, the handsome Khanna moved to Mumbai for his graduation. He had a keen interest in studying science, but since he came from a business family his father wanted him to join the commerce stream. It was during his graduation years that Khanna developed an interest towards acting, and became part of his college theatre troupe. One day he happened to have a chance encounter with actor Sunil Dutt at a party. The actor offered Khanna a role in one of his upcoming film. Khanna played the villain in his debut film 'Man Ka Meet' in 1968.
Love at first sight
In the meantime, when he was part of the theatre programmes and had quite a big fan following. He happened to met a young lady Geetanjali Taleyarkha. Geetanjali aspired to become a model and Vinod was bewitched by her personality. In no time had the duo started to go out and seeing each other.
Star settles down
Khanna was always sure that he make up his career first before settling down with a family. After doing about 15 back-to-back films, Khanna finally decided to get married in 1971. Two years after his film debut, Khanna’s marriage to his long-time girlfriend Geetanjali finally took place in Mumbai which was attended by all big names from the industry back then.
The couple were eventually blessed with two sons, Rahul Khanna in 1972 and Akshaye Khanna in 1975.
Despite quite a good fan base, Khanna made sure that he was a family man first. He had a policy of not working on Sundays as he wanted to spend time with his wife and kids. He attained stardom in an industry where Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan dominated.
Another decisive phase in the actor's life came when filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt introduced Vinod to the Osho’s philosophy and commune. While Mahesh Bhatt got disillusioned by life at Osho’s ashram after two years, Vinod stayed on.
“How can one succeed in the acting world?” Khanna once asked Osho and he replied, “Live life as if you are acting and act as if it’s your life. Then you will succeed in both.”
These words left a great impact on Khanna and he decided to seek Osho's wisdom more. He would frequently visit the Osho Ashram (Osho International Meditation Resort) on weekends after wrapping up his film shoots and indulge in meditation.
By 1982, when Khanna was at the peak of his film career, he shifted to Rajneeshpuram at Oregon in the US to be with his guru. As per the tradition of the ashram, all the disciples were assigned a task which they were supposed to perform daily. And Khanna, who was named Swami Vinod Bharti by Osho, was given the job of a gardener.
Khanna did not return home even after a few years and connected with his family only occasionally over the phone. Wife Geetanjali, who was brought up in a traditional Punjabi family, tried to make him understand that it is difficult for the boys to face the world that always questioned them about the whereabouts of their father. She tried her best to persude him to return as his boys were growing up and they needed him.
Finally, after many attempts, Geetanjali asked him to choose between family and ashram and Khanna chose the latter. Geetanjali was left with no other choice than to file for divorce. When Vinod finally returned to India in 1987, he had nothing and no one in his life.
Bollywood welcomed the actor back and soon he was doing movies all over again with vigour. On his 43rd birthday, Khanna met Kavita Daftary and fell for her.
It took Vinod a lot of wooing before he could pursue her to go on a long drive with him. The long drive changed Kavita’s perception about the actor and that is how a new love story began. In May 1990, the couple tied the knot. The couple was soon blessed with a son, Sakshi and a daughter, Shraddha.
He even had a successful political innings thereafter. He represented the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency four times and was a Union minister.
On April 27, 2017, Vinod Khanna passed away following a prolonged sickness.