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Back on track

second innings
Last Updated : 23 September 2017, 18:37 IST
Last Updated : 23 September 2017, 18:37 IST

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He’s had a roller coaster of a life, sufficiently meaty to be the subject of a biopic now, made by one of his favourite directors, Rajkumar Hirani. Technically, Sanjay Dutt is 46 years old in showbiz, having made his first screen appearance singing a qawwali as a kid in his father Sunil Dutt’s Reshma Aur Shera (1971). A decade later, he appeared in his lead debut Rocky (1981).

In a chequered career replete with controversies, affairs, drug rehab and brushes with the law, he still remained a top-bracket star with hits like Vidhaata, Naam, Saajan, Sadak, Khalnayak, Aatish, Vaastav, Jodi No.1, Munna Bhai M.B.B.S., Parineeta, Lage Raho Munna Bhai and Agneepath. He married actor Richa Sharma in the 80s, and though the marriage did not really work, this union resulted in a beautiful daughter, Trishalaa.

The millennium’s second decade began on a positive note for Sanjay: marriage to Maanyata and two lovely kids, the twins Shahran and Iqra. He was then sent to jail to repay his last debt to society and has now emerged clean, calm and charged. And as he says, “I am in a great space, completely calm, with my family around, and making movies.”

After signing two films that failed to take off after the scripts did not work out to his liking, he chose to return with Omung Kumar’s Bhoomi, a father-daughter story. He smiles when we say that people are calling Bhoomi his comeback film. “People like that word, but I have been away for less than four years. But when I faced the camera again after this small gap, I felt very emotional,” he states. Technically again, his last release was the Christmas 2014 release PK, which places his absence at less than three years!

His love for a good script

Sanjay denies that he was attracted to Bhoomi because it was a father-daughter story, and the fact that he has two daughters. “I think Bhoomi is a great script and is a good, sound, commercial package, but if it fails, I will face it like a man! The film has a strong message, and at the same time, Omung Kumar did not want to make the film a docudrama. Omung is a focused director, and I am doing another film he is directing, which has a great script too.”

But the actor does feel very strongly about the girl child and crimes against women and children. “The discrimination towards daughters and the girl child is deplorable and I wanted to send a message to the country,” he declares. “A girl child is a jigar ka tukda (a part of you). A daughter is a mini-goddess Lakshmi, she is not a burden.”

In Bhoomi, his reel daughter (Aditi Rao Hydari) is raped. And Sanjay is categorically clear that rapists deserve capital punishment. “When I was in jail, even the inmates there hated those who were inside for rape,” he says. “One of the havaldars (constables) told me that while we worship Durga and Kali, we treat women like this in real life! This is such a shocking contrast. When I read about Nirbhaya, I could not sleep for 10 days, and that minor rapist being spared was not at all fair.”

What about his new film with Omung? “It is about the Maharaja of Jamnagar who, in the Second World War, saved 200 Jewish kids from the Nazis, rehabilitated and educated them, and sent them back to their country,” he says.

The other films Sanjay is doing are Girish Malik’s Torbaaz, an action thriller set in Afghanistan about child suicide bombers. Sanjay Dutt will be playing a father to a young child in the film; Aarambh Singh’s Omung Kumar co-production Malang, in which he plays an investigating officer; Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster 3, in which he is the gangster; and Ajay Devgn’s production, co-starring Farhan Akhtar. What about the next Munnabhai film? “Yes, I think it will happen now. But you should ask Raju Hirani this question!” he quips.

The huge percentage of flops this year leads him to give only one explanation. “Look at the biggest hits Dangal and Bahubali 2—The Conclusion. They never left our values and how we look at relationships. My parents (Sunil Dutt and Nargis) starred in the mega-hit Mother India 60 years ago that also showed Indian culture. We must not veer away from that to find a rapport with the audience,” he explains.

Open to everything

Sanjay would like to work with any director who has a good script and role for him — there’s no specific wish list of directors. “But I am not in denial about my age. I want to play roles that suit my age. On one side, we have Varun Dhawan, Ranveer Singh and Sidharth Malhotra, on the other side we have Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, who are in a different zone. There is no one in the 50-plus mature, tough guy zone and that is the space in which I would like to be,” Sanjay says.

What would he say are his biggest strengths and weaknesses? He instantly replies, “My biggest strength is my patience. My greatest weakness is that I have a heart which is like wax.”

What does he have to say about his Rajkumar Hirani-directed biopic starring Ranbir Kapoor in his role? He smiles again, and all he replies is, “Ranbir Kapoor is like my younger brother.” But does he not want to write his own story as well? “I have always wanted to write my own story. I do not know about others, but I feel if I have gone through something and come out as a winner, then I should tell my story. There are not many who have come out of drug addiction, but I have. Our future generation and our kids are being affected by drugs. I want to start rehab centres, talk to the youth and tell them that if I can come out of it, anyone can. But I am thinking about a book and need to find the right publisher,” he states.

In this era of remakes (he has himself starred in Zanjeer 2.0 and Agneepath), would he like any of his own or father’s films being remade? “My father’s Mujhe Jeene Do!” he says without hesitation.

How does he look at the father-offspring relationship? Does he believe in being a friend to his kids? “In India, if we do that, the son or daughter can go astray! In our culture, even a 60-year-old son is treated like a child by his parents,” he says. “We cannot drink, smoke or even move around in underwear when our parents are around. In fact, I would fervently say that children should listen to their parents to avoid problems in their lives.”

At this calm stage of his life, does he have any fears or anxieties left? “My biggest fear is losing my freedom,” he says. “We take it for granted. Only when we lose it do we know what it truly means!”
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Published 23 September 2017, 16:18 IST

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