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Bollywood Star Vinod Khanna Dies at 70

Variety logo Variety 4/27/2017 Shalini Dore
© Provided by Variety

Bollywood star Vinod Khanna, who starred in such hits as 1970s “Amar Akbar Anthony,” “Achanak” and “Muqaddar ka Sikander,” died Thursday morning at Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital in Girgaon, Mumbai, India. He was 70 and had been suffering from bladder cancer. A viral image of an emaciated Khanna scandalized many in India.

Khanna, whose sons are also Bollywood stars, had a long and illustrious career in which he acted in several blockbusters with other matinee idols of the 1970s such as Amitabh Bachchan (“Amar Akbar Anthony”) and Rajesh Khanna (“Sachaa Jhoota”).

In his later years Khanna became a member of Parliament with the Bharatiya Janata Party representing Gurdaspur, Punjab.

Born Oct. 6, 1946, in Peshawar, before India was partitioned, Khanna made his way to Bombay and in 1968 got a role as a villain in “Man ka meet,” remake of a Tamil film. He played villains or secondary characters till he broke through in 1973’s “Achanak,” directed by Gulzar. He played a remorseful husband convicted of murdering his unfaithful wife. The film was inspired by the real-life story of Navy officer K.M. Nanavati.

The film led to starring roles with other marquee names such as Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna (no relative) and Shashi Kapoor. His films, including “Amar Akbar Anthony,” centering on brothers separated at birth and raised by Hindu, Muslim and Christian parents, and “Muqaddar ka Sikander” were hits at the box office.

In 1982, Khanna left showbiz to follow charismatic leader Oslo for a few years, returning to star in “Insaaf” and other actioners.

Ten years later, in 1997, Khanna joined politics and served in the Lok Sabha, or lower chamber, representing Gurdaspur till he was tapped as culture minister in 2002, six months later he moved to the external ministry. But he lost his district in the 2009 elections and then regained it in 2014.

Khanna is survived by his wife, Kavita; acting sons Rahul and Akshaye, as well as another son and daughter. His first marriage ended in divorce after he started to follow Oslo.

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