Sanjay Dutt turns a year older today (July 29). And on this happy occasion, Subhash K Jha has compiled a list of the best answers given by the actor to questions asked by him all these years. Through these questions and answers, one can easily decipher how badly Sanjay Dutt had been affected by the court proceedings and legal tussles in his life, and how Maanyata Dutt made his life a lot better and way happier.
Q: Tell me about your most memorable birthday.
A: They’ve all been memorable in their own way, even the ones that came in my worst days. I don’t like a big birthday bash. I just want my loved ones on my birthday. It’s tough to remember my past. But I want to move on.
Q: It’s very difficult to imagine Sanju Baba being 60-plus.
A: At heart, I’m still Baba. But when I look into the mirror it’s a reality. And I do feel 60-plus. But not old. I’ve been in the film industry for so long. Yes, it’s been a long innings. In the last 18 years, I’ve been fighting for my freedom and I feel the burden of the struggle now.I want to be free, Subhash. I want to walk into any consulate and get my visa. I want my passport to be with me. I want to visit any country I want. Most important of all, I want the court cases to end.
Q: I believe you’re trying to get back into shape again.
A: Do you mean my life or body? My physique… Well, I sometimes forget I am 49. But I’m getting there, I promise you. Hopefully by December-January, I’ll be back in shape. I’ve this personal trainer named Lawrence from Los Angeles . He’s fantastic. He makes sure I’m not overdoing it.
Q: Your life has gone through tremendous upheavals in recent times. Do you think the worst is over?
A: The best thing I did was to get rid of the undesirable people in my life. But I wish them well in life. I’ve no animosity against them - though they seem to have a lot against me. Even my enemies, I wish well. God bless them.
Q: Are your wild days over?
Absolutely over. I’m so happy, touchwood. God has been kind to me.
Q: Do you feel less stressed in life?
A: Yes. God has been great. There’s good work coming my way. I’m happy because I’m getting substantial roles. I had to finish my backlog and start fresh. That was really important for me.
Q: You’ve now started life on a clean slate…
A: I’m so relieved, I can’t tell you. I’m finally able to sleep peacefully at night. I want to thank the whole industry for standing by me. I feel I’ve entered a whole new world now.I’m very happy in my marriage with Maanyata. Everything seems so right for the first time in my life. I just want to do great work and be around friends who are like my brothers.
Q: Your sisters were not happy about your marriage?
This is the happiest relationship I’ve ever been in, and I’d expect my sisters to be happy for me. Going by my past record, I don’t blame anyone for being suspicious of this relationship. My life has been a rollercoaster. For my family, especially my sisters, this was just another mistake that I was making. But I feel no one, not even the closest member of the family, has the right to interfere in my personal life.
Q: You really stood by Maanyata?
A: That’s the least I could do. She has proved herself over and over again, though I’ve told her repeatedly that she doesn’t need to prove herself to me or to any member of my family. But she’s a very warm, giving and family-oriented person. And to her, winning over my family was very important. And she proved herself. I’m very proud of her.
Q: Wasn’t your sisters’ approval of your wife and marriage important to you?
A: It was important. But don’t forget, they’re younger than me. And I felt they had no right to disapprove of something I was doing in my own life. Whether they liked it or not they had to accept it. Anyway I love my sisters and I knew with time they’d come around. The tangles are finally being resolved.
Q: Are your sisters more accepting of Maanyata?
A: I think so. But let’s see…..
Q: Tell me why you think Maanayata is the right partner for you?
A: I've always wanted a woman like Maanayata. In our society, a woman has to make a lot of sacrifices for her man. And Maanyata has done that. I’m not the easiest person to handle. Maanyata is just right for me. Nowadays I just wait for the day to be over, so I can get back home to her. And I want to start a family with her as soon as possible.
Q: What was your reaction to a part of your family going against your wife publically?
A: My sister Priya has denied it. And even if she said it, I forgive her for it. With my parents gone, I’m the oldest member of our family. Like any parent forgives and supports his child, I do the same for my family. If Priya has any ill-will or anger towards me and my wife, we both forgive her. Priya is blood. Nothing can change that. However, Maanyata is Sunil Dutt and Nargis’s daughter-in-law, no two ways about that. And there’s only one Mr and Mrs Dutt in Pali Hill. That’s me and Maanyata. Girls who move into a new family after marriage should assume their new surname and all the responsibilities that come with it.
Q: Is that a message to Priya?
A: It’s a message to my sisters and all those girls who hang on their parents’ surnames. That’s become a fashion these days. But I feel that disrespects the person they’ve married.
Q: Strong words.
A: It’s a fact, harsh as it may sound. If my wife said she wants to keep her surname the way it was before marriage, I’d have been offended.
Q: How do you manage a balancing act between your wife and sister?
A: There’s no balancing act. My wife is my wife. She’s the no. 1 priority in my life. Any spouse feels the same way. For Priya, her husband Owen is no. 1 priority
Q: Your sisters haven’t accepted your wife?
A: Do you have any sister? If you do, you'll know no sister gets along with the brother’s wife. But if my mother was alive she would’ve been more than happy to accept Maanyata. She’s a home-maker, just like my mother.
Q: So why can’t your sisters see that?
A: There’s no feud in the family. It’s sad when I’ve to read about her family differences expressed in the press. Yes, like any family we’ve our differences of opinion. My wife doesn’t speak about my family in the press, out of love and respect for my feelings. God willing, my sisters too will see things the same way.
Q: Are you at peace with yourself?
A: I was out of control as a child. And I take responsibility for what happened to me . I was in and out of jail. Today my tomorrows don’t seem to be that insecure. I sleep better.
Q: Why are you so hard to pin down?
A: Because I’m pinned down to a thousand problems. Running between my court hearings and shootings is like trying to balance two big boulders on my shoulder. Sometimes, I just feel like giving up. I’ve been fighting to prove my innocence for eleven years. I’ve been lately caught up with what’s hopefully the final lap of the case. Apparently the judgement will now have to wait until after the elections. I can’t take the agony of waiting any longer. I haven’t even been able to enjoy the success of Munnabhai MBBS .
Q: You hardly give your career the attention it deserves.
A: I know. But what do I do. I’ve been running in and out of courtrooms for so long I’ve forgotten what a normal life is like. Someday I’d like to write a book on what I’ve gone through. It will be far more interesting than any film I’ve done. I’ve been damaged so much I don’t know why I haven’t broken down. Now I just want the ordeal to end. I can’t bear to see the agony in my father’s eyes.
Q: Do you feel you could have done much more with your career if all the legal and personal obstacles?
A: Maybe you’re right. With the legal hassles happening I can’t concentrate completely on my work. The case is constantly at the back of my mind. But I must say the courts have been truly generous. They’ve allowed me to go on working. God willing, I’ll soon be acquitted. Then I can make a fresh start and focus completely on my work.
Q: How are things going for you personally?
A: The legal agony is far from over. My life comes to a standstill the minute I think about it. It’s been going on for years. Now, it seems the court proceedings might go on for another two years. I just want it to end, either way. I’ve to attend court once every 15 days. But I’m not allowed to leave Mumbai without the court’s consent. Even to go to Pune I’ve to get legal consent.
Q: How do you explain the fact that you’ve re-built your career so strongly in spite of being an undertrial?
A: I don’t know. It’s perhaps my parents’ blessing. But it’s amazing that filmmakers have so much faith in my in spite of everything. Yeah, to an extent my Dad’s goodwill in the industry counts. But let’s not forget, I’ve been part of this industry for twenty years. Constant interaction over so many years has helped keep up the faith.
Q: Are you still required to attend court regularly regarding your TADA case?
A: Yes, but now it’s once every fifteen days. But I still have to take official permission before I travel outside the country. When I land at airports abroad and my passport shows a special permission for travelling the immigration people wonder what’s happening. They start asking me questions suspiciously. Now it’s up to the Indian authorities whether they want to do something about the situation or not.
Q: It’s so strange. But there’s so much goodwill for you within the film industry while you are still an undertrial in the court of law.
A: I know. It’s really strange. I’ve been charged with trying to threaten the government of India and indulge in terrorism, and a few days back the President of India invited me to the Rashtra Bhavan in connection with Mission: Kashmir. Can you believe it?! I felt so good.
Q: Your audience thinks your roles can only be played by you?
A: I’m flattered. And I’m grateful. I don’t take my so-called stardom seriously. I just like to be who I am regardless of ups or downs. People love me the way I am. I can’t change myself to behave like a star. I’m a guy who goes completely with the flow. I hang out with my own set of friends. And they haven’t changed. Sanjay Gupta has been a close friend for years. I’ve been in almost all his films. I don’t think any of the so-called top banners have contributed to my career. I like to work with friends. I don’t care about being No.1 or No.2. I am Sanjay Dutt and I want to remain who I am. I’ve an audience and I’m thankful to them. I’m happy to be where I am.
Q: When you lost your father….
A: I don’t feel he’s gone. His death happened so suddenly, I had to grow up suddenly. I've two younger sisters and I feel like their father. I’ve no excuse to remain a kid any longer. I’ve no dad to run to with my problems. He was there to bail me out of every crisis. Sometimes when I’m sitting with my sisters it hits us that he’s no more.
Q: The Bachchans are very fond of you.
A: Abhishek is like a younger brother. In spite of being Amitji and Jayaji’s son, he’s so down to earth. That quality will take him a long way. When his initial films failed I was the only guy saying he was the dark horse. Today I’m so proud of him. He’s got such terrific films on hand. I get angry with him when he does stupid roles.
Q: So do you.
A: I’ve been here for twenty-five years. I can afford to do stupid roles.
Q: Are you happy?
A: Very happy. It has been a 30-year innings. Things have changed so much in the industry.I’m lucky to have survived.
Q: On a personal level?
A: Oh I am very happy. My wife Maanyata really takes good care of me.
Here's wishing the enigmatic star, Sanjay Dutt, a very happy birthday!
Image source: SpotboyE archive