Khanna was born to Kamla and KC Khanna, a businessman who dealt in textiles, dyes and chemicals. He was one of five children, with three sisters and a brother and grew up in a joint family.
He attended Queen Mary’s School till class II and then shifted to St Xavier’s High School. He graduated from Sydenham College.
Vinod Khanna debuted in Sunil Dutt's 1968 film Man Ka Meet as a villain. He acted in multi-starrer films often playing supporting and negative roles in hit films such as Purab Aur Paschim (1970), Sachaa Jhutha (1970) and Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971). His big break was in the 1971 film Mere Apne directed by Gulzar. His performance as an army officer facing death row in another Gulzar scripted and directed 1973 film Achanak was critically acclaimed. The songless film echoed the true life story of K. M. Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra and Khanna portrayed Kawas Nanavati, the real life Navy officer.
He went on to star in many hits throughout the mid 1970s and early 1980s, including Parvarish (1977), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Khoon Pasina (1977), Muqaddar Ka Sikander (1978), The Burning Train (1980) and Qurbani (1980). Having peaked in Bollywood, he became a follower of the spiritual teacher Osho (Rajneesh) and left the film industry in 1979 for eight years. At this time, he was one of the most successful actors in the Bollywood, competing with Amitabh Bachchan & Jeetendra. He rejoined the industry, eight years later in mid 1980s. He continued to appear in many notable films from the mid 1980s to the 1990s such as Dayavan (1988), Chandni (1989), Kshatriya (1993) Eena Meena Deeka (1994) and Ekka Raja Rani (1994).
In 1997 he introduced his son Akshaye who is also a great actor, in the film Himalay Putra which he produced and also starred in. In 1999 he received a Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the film industry for over three decades. He has since acted in fewer films playing character roles. His most recent films were Deewaanapan (2002) and Risk (2007). He is currently acting as the lead in the Hindi serial Mere Apne produced by Smriti Irani which airs on the new channel 9x. He plays the role of the male lead "Kashi Nath" and is paired with producer Smriti Irani who also acts as the female lead in the serial.
In 1997, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and was elected from Gurdaspur constituency in Punjab in the next year's Lok Sabha poll.
The star-factor helped him out three times Lok Sabha member Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder. Bhinder's perceived inability to develop the area outweighed the "outsider" tag applied to Khanna. In 1999, he was re-elected to the Lok Sabha from the same constituency. Later, he became union minister for culture and tourism in July 2002. Six months later he was moved to the more important ministry of external affairs (MEA) as minister of state. In 2004 he won re-election from Gurdaspur. Presently, he continues to participate in the film business based out of Dubai.
Khanna married Geetanjali, and has two sons with her, Rahul Khanna and Akshaye Khanna; both are Hindi film actors. In 1975, Khanna became a disciple of Osho (Acharya Rajneesh). In the early 1980s, he moved to Rajneeshpuram, Osho's commune in the United States, for four years, cleaning dishes and working as Osho's gardener. His absence from his family, who remained behind in India, caused stresses with his wife, and the marriage ended in divorce.
In 1990, he married his second wife, Kavita. They have a son, Sakshi, and a daughter Shraddha.
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