Second lease of life

New innings

Comic: Sanjay Dutt in ‘Chatur Singh’.

Not always. Struck by multiple tragedies, Sanjay Dutt’s life hasn’t been dream-like. Getting embroiled in controversies, being labelled as an alleged terrorist, and some political career errors, Dutt has learned to live life the hard way. Yet, his never-say-die attitude has helped him get through every crisis he has faced. Fit and victorious at the age of 51, Sanjay Dutt is back in action, and in the news as Kancha in Karan Johar’s remake of Agneepath, currently under-production, as well as his forthcoming release, Chatur Singh Two Star.

Sitting in the ground floor of his palatial house in the upmarket suburb of Bandra in Mumbai on a rain-laden afternoon, Sanju baba is relaxed. He is busy playing with his twins Iqra and Shahraan, or sharing a light moment with wife Manyata. “Life has changed completely for me after my twins were born. Nowadays, it is really tough for me to leave them and go for my shooting schedules. They always hold me back,” says the proud father.

Considering the number of assignments lined up for him, it surely is difficult for him to juggle and balance personal and professional demands. Apart from two big ticket films — Chatur Singh and Agneepath —  he has recently shot for a special appearance in SRK’s Ra.One, besides signing up to host Bigg Boss 5.

A lot has changed for the superstar in the last few months, including his looks. Dutt changed his hairstyle completely for Agneepath as Kancha’s role demanded it. He has shaved off his head and is looking leaner and a wee bit meaner as well. Quite a contrast to the look he sported in Double Dhamaal, his last released film. “Initially, when I was shooting for Agneepath, I did not go bald. I was working in other films simultaneously and due to continuity reasons, it was difficult for me to shave off my hair. But a shooting schedule in Diu during the peak summer season changed my decision. I was supposed to wear prosthetic make-up and it took me almost two hours to get ready with that. But before I could go for the shot, the extreme heat spoiled my make-up,” recalls the actor.

“Karan Johar and I had a discussion after that and he left it to me. I bit the bullet and shaved off my hair!” he says.

Interestingly enough, the other film Sanjay Dutt is working on, Chatur Singh, requires him to sport a wig and a funny hairstyle. “I play a policeman who is a big fan of spy thrillers and spies. My whole look is very funny and I even had to gain some weight for the role!” the suave actor explains. “Whoever thinks acting in a film is a cakewalk is mistaken. In my career, I have shot in various locations under extreme weather conditions. I remember, for LOC, we had to shoot in -45 degrees temperature in Ladakh, while for Agneepath, it was just the opposite.”

Chatur Singh and Agneepath will see Dutt play diametrically opposite characters as well. While the former sees him in a comic role, he plays the cold blooded villain Kancha in the second. “I have reached a stage in my career where I want to do just commercial films, particularly those that entertain people. It can be an action flick or a comedy, but I need to entertain people. I have done films like Knock Out and Lamhe, which were different from the rest, but somehow people did not like me in those roles. I have realised that viewers hate to be lectured upon when they come to see a movie,” says Sanjay with a witty smile.

Despite being in the industry for more than three decades, the actor has managed to remain apolitical and is equally friendly with everyone in Bollywood. While that has helped him earn respect, it has also deterred him from getting some plum roles that ‘insiders’ get. Does he regret it? “My father owned the Ajanta Arts banner. He used to host a party every year where almost everyone in the industry would be present. At that time, competition among actors wasn’t intense; it was healthy. Also, there weren’t many cliques in the industry, unlike today,” he rues.

Dutt has an impressive career in films to boast of and is a happy family man. Is he content with life? “Yes, I am. I also believe in what my father has always taught me — you may or may not be a star, but at the end of the day, you have to be a good human being,” he says.

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