I don’t think Rajkumar Hirani could have made a better choice to make a biopic on a star than Sanjay Dutt. True, Hirani must have learned a lot about Sanjay Dutt when he made films like Munna Bhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munna Bhai with him. Hirani must have had several discussions with Sanjay and his close friends and associates before deciding to make a biopic on his life.
He must have done all the research possible to know more and more about Sanjay and it must be all his hard work that will be seen in Sanju, the biopic which is now ready for release and is arousing a great deal of curiosity among both those who knew or know Sanjay closely and even those who have not. I being in this profession for decades was fortunate to be close to the Dutt family, especially Sunil Dutt. I had my own working relationship with Sanjay, but before we could get closer, he got into all kinds of controversies and ended up living several lives in his one life like the caption of Hirani’s film reads. I must come out with the truths about Sanjay which I have been witness to and as his father and others told me from time to time and some of the scenes in his life that I was an eye witness to…
– Sanjay according to his mother, the late Nargis Dutt had grown into a drug addict even while he was in school, a fact she said she kept a secret from her husband till he came to know about it only when he launched Rocky to give Sanjay his first break. – It was even while he was shooting for Rocky that he was high on drugs and alcohol and he had friends like Shakti Kapoor and Gulshan Grover who gave him company because after all he was the hero and the son of Dutt Sahab. – It was during the making of Rocky that he had his first affair with his heroine, Tina Munim which ended only after Tina opted for the one-time superstar Rajesh Khanna and then gave him up to marry Anil Ambani. – He was so dependent on drugs and alcohol that he did not have the energy to wake up to report for his shootings. It was his secretary, Shakti who got him out of bed, took him to the shootings and even brushed his teeth for him. There were times when he just couldn’t speak his lines and directors had to depend on dubbing for almost all his scenes. – He was in Manali where he was shooting for a film called Johnny I Love You and his best friend Kumar Gaurav was shooting for Teri Kasam.
The unit and the crowd gathered to watch the shooting looked on with shock as the two young stars sat with bottles of Scotch when others were busy having their breakfast. They could bully their directors and dance directors to complete their songs and dance in half a day. It was during the shooting that Sanjay even got into a brawl with a new actress called Jyoti Bakshi who later found no work and took to high level frustration, turned into drug addict and alcoholic and was found dead in her apartment in Yari Road in a highly decomposed state and had no one to claim her body. – Sanjay had many other affairs of the heart, but he married Richa Sharma who was an actress from America discovered by Dev Anand. Their marriage broke up after they had a baby girl who was named Trishala, who is now a career woman in America. Her mother, Richa had died of cancer when she was very young. – The most intense affair Sanjay had was with his heroine of more than three films, Rati Agnihotri. Her parents were against this affair but Rati was adamant and when her father saw her attitude, he hired photographers to take pictures of Sanjay in places where he used to get drunk and where he used to get his fix of drugs and then showed those pictures to Rati which ended their affair. – He had many highs and lows in his career but his personal life was always in a mess, till he got into the ultimate controversy and spent the next fifteen years in and out of Jail. – It was during this battle with the law that the only man who stood by him like a rock was his father; Sunil Dutt who it is said was going to be a victim of his son’s madness when he took a gun and threatened to kill him. – The last dirty scene Sanjay created in Bombay was when he ran after the actress Padmini Kolhapure with an open knife. The next day his father rushed him to a rehab centre in Germany.
– Sunil Dutt went out of his way to try and save Sanjay. He first hired the noted criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani who was his arch rival in politics and who he had defeated during the first ever election he fought from the North Bombay West Constituency, a defeat which had brought tears to the eyes of Jethmalani who vowed never to fight an election again. He however tried his best to help Dutt in saving Sanjay, but his help couldn’t do much. He also sought the help of his other political rival; Bal Thackeray who it is said was responsible for getting Sanjay out of serious trouble. It became clear when Sanjay was released from jail and was brought home in a decorated truck which first stopped at the Siddhivinayak Temple in Dadar and then drove straight to Matoshree, the residence of the Sena Chief. – The father showed how much he cared for his son when he carried his launch for him when he was at the Athar Road jail every afternoon and sat outside like the relatives of most common criminals. He often called me to join him and when Sanjay had his lunch, we used to go to the Oberoi and have a good meal (eating good food was Dutt’s weakness). Every evening he sat with Dilip Kumar who comforted him and assured him that all would be well. Dutt continued his battle to save Sanjay till the last evening of his life. This was the same father Sanjay used to make fun of when he used to go on one of his padyatras to serve a cause. He often told his friends, “don’t do anything wrong or my father will go on a padyatra”. – One of the scenes I vividly remember was at the Mehboob Studios. The entire industry had taken out a morcha against the Stardust magazine and had returned to the Studio. The morcha was led by Amjad Khan even though he was very sick and could not even walk, but he was the president of the Cine Artists Association.
Shah Rukh Khan had just gained popularity but had not joined the morcha and was shooting in the same Studio. He walked down the makeup room and walked past Amjad Khan without even acknowledging him and when Sanjay saw that, he lost his temper and ran after Shah Rukh and tried to hold him by his neck, but some friends helped in the scene not turning ugly. – Sanjay kept improving as a man every time he came out on parole and it was during one of these times that he married an already married woman called Manyata and they now have twins, a boy and a girl. – All the storm in Sanjay’s life have almost come to an end and he is living a very peaceful life with his own family, his sisters, Namrata and Priya and his long-time friend and brother-in-law, Kumar Gaurav. – He has given up all his addictions and the way he has maintained his body and has settled down to forget the past and lead a new life is more than a miracle. – When Rocky had its premiere, it was only a few months after Nargis had died, but Sunil Dutt made it a point to see that one chair in the front row was kept vacant in honour of Nargis.
What will Sanjay do when Sanju is released on June 29? I am both eager and anxious to see how much of Sanjay’s life Hirani has succeeded in bringing to life in the film and more importantly how Ranbir Kapoor has lived Sanjay Dutt when the real Sanjay Dutt is very much alive and around and whose story is a part of modern history, a story known in every family which knows anything about films, politics and life in India during the last forty years in which Sanjay Dutt has been a very important character.