Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sanjay Dutt: Tu Kal Chala Jayega...

I owe this piece to my mania for films and for the charismatic Sanjay Dutt. Sanju Baba as he is popularly and affectionately titled remains the favorite Indian bad boy. The son of famous yester-years film stars Sunil Dutt (Congress politician and minister) and the legendary Nargis.

Sanjay Dutt was jailed for six years for possessing illegal weapons on Monday 31 July 2007. Sanju baba will spend four years and some months in jail as he has already spent sixteen months of his sentence during the trial period. It is a sad day for the Bombay Film industry where over 100 crore rupees are invested in films Sanjay Dutt was shooting for. But for me the personal tragedy is more to do with the imprisonment of this problem child. For a rich city kid's fascination for guns, Sanjay Dutt has paid and continues to pay a heavy price.

Most accounts say Sanju Baba had a difficult childhood due to strict but celebrity parents. His school days at Lawrence School, Sanawar, Himachal Pradesh is said to be a testimony of that. For those visiting Kasauli, do check out Dutt's childhood pictures at the main photo studio in the market. The next stage in life was drug addiction which plagued him through the early years of his film career. Nargis, his mother's death due to cancer was followed by the death of his wife due to a brain tumour and a legal wrangle for his daughter's custody. The last being his arrest in the sensational Bombay Blast case of 1993 when he was at a peak in his film career. Since then this case has plagued him and for which he has been sentenced. His underworld connections have also made him a controversial personality when tapes of his conversation with the Dubai based dons was discreetly leaked to the press.

I am not certain how true this is but they say that for most kids growing up in the 1980's, Sanjay Dutt remained the eternal and perhaps the only rebel. Sanjay Dutt was 21 when his first movie Rocky was released in 1981. Since then Sanjay Dutt has acted in over 115 films but has excelled in films where he plays the bad guy with a heart of gold or a bad guy who chose the wrong path due to circumstances.

The most amazing among his early films was Naam (1986) where he plays the wayward son of a widow in humble circumstances and finally ends up with the Mafia abroad in his efforts to show his mother than he is not useless. The pathos of Naam is heart rendering, Sanjay Dutt's character is in a foreign land with a forged documents and the mafia after him. Personally to me, this is the closest role that circumstantially mirrors his real life conundrum. Sanjay Dutt is not your number one box office star and nor are his movies any example of exemplariness. However, Sanjay Dutt remains important for he rises above his films and his acting prowess due to the irony of his life and times.

The next phase of his life can be marked by his top billing during the making of his 1993 film Khalnayak during which he was first arrested. Vaastav (1999) was another feather in Sanju's cap and this time he excels in the role of (yet again) a cornered bhai paranoid about his life. He has done many films in this period since then and the most remarkable ones have been the Munna Bhai series of two films in which he plays a hoodlum with a heart of gold with his emphasis on care and affection in the medical fraternity Munna Bhai M.B.B.S and on Gandhian philosophy in Lage Raho Munna Bhai, all in his efforts to get the girl he likes. Endearing roles, great support cast and a terrific amalgam of freshness and creative thinking in this moribund industry. The third part of the series Munna Bhai goes to America as it is tentatively titled will have to be put on hold till Sanju Baba gets back after four years.

For me this post-1993 phase of Sanjay Dutt was remarkable for the varied bhai roles he essayed. For the MussaBhai of Plan (2004) with a Rolex ki Ghadi, Gucci shoes and Armani suit to the Billa of Musafir (2004) who has the get up of a Black Hip Hop star but constantly mouths dialogues from old Hindi films. I have always wanted to do some kind of study on the evolution of Sanjay Dutt's role as a bhai in his films in this phase.


This piece can go on and on but it would be imperative to mention that this post is written by a film junkie about a star he likes and it does not claim to be any legal examination of the case against Sanjay Dutt and nor does it reflect this bloggers opinion on the other accused in the same case. Dutt's lawyers said they would appeal against the sentence and I am hoping the film industry can get together and bribe the Supreme Court judge and get our Sanju Baba out.

How many rich and famous Indians have ever gone to jail? Of course, there is that argument of equality before law and how it is high time the mighty were told that they wont get away with breaking the law, but in my opinion, all that is hog wash. The poor and weak will still go to jail and probably end up serving more years in prison than their sentences would be because they cannot come up with the surety amount required for bail. Nor does this mean that after Sanjay Dutt, the rich and powerful law breakers in India will be punished and won't get away.

Sanjay Dutt's father,the actor-politician Sunil Dutt, passed away two years ago. It is sad that Sanjay Dutt is without his father's wise and comforting company, cause in times like these when he looks so abandoned, Sunil Dutt would have been a wonderful figure of support. I could write a whole post on Sunil Dutt, a good actor, a great and clean politician and a conscientious citizen of the world. Sanjay Dutt has two sisters, one, Namrata, who is married to actor-friend Kumar Gaurav and the other one Priya is married too and has taken over Sunil Dutt's political constituency. I just wish Sanju Baba could get away with this and hope things remain sane for him. Four years is a long time....in being hopeful I would conclude by saying that Sanjay Dutt survives this and comes out tougher...but this may sound foolish cause imprisonment scars deeply and maybe its wiser to say that Sanju baba, I am with you.

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