Bollywood’s original hunk Sanjay Dutt has always been in news, whether for good or bad reasons. The actor, who has been through a series of bad phases in life, is a born survivor who always bounced back in the face of adversity.
In an exclusive interview with Swati Chaturvedi of Spicezee.com on her programme Kahiye Janab, Sanjay Dutt shares moments from his tumultuous life. In the chit-chat, Sanjay speaks about his Bollywood innings, political career, wife Manyata, soon-to-be-born baby, and of course, his daughter Trishala.
Swati: Sanjay, in your life you have been through many highs and lows. And as compared to other celebrities in the industry, you have been destiny’s most tormented child. Can you tell us what have you learnt? What did you lose and what have you found?
Sanjay: In life, there are times when a person goes through many ups and downs. Even I have had my share of good times and bad times. But yes, right from the beginning, I have seen a lot of suffering. I still remember the premiere of my first movie ‘Rocky’, the euphoria over the film was lost because my mother had died just four days before. My mother’s death at that point of time was the biggest loss for me, which haunts me even now. I have also been through a drug phase and jail and court hearings, which made life all the more miserable. But I never gave up in those tough times and took everything in my stride, for I believed if you are able to face a problem, you eventually go on to become stronger and more grounded.
Swati: You were almost a momma’s boy. You got pulled into drugs after Nargis ji died. How did you overcome that trauma and what role did your family play in bringing the pieces together?
Sanjay: Well, Dutt saab and my two sisters were deeply affected after losing my mom to cancer. I was very close to mom and when she died, I almost went into depression. And then I got into drugs, something which I regret the most today. My family was very supportive right from the beginning. Dutt saab, who himself was in mourning, got really concerned about me. I do not want to recollect, as those were the most troubling times of my life.
Swati: You were once called a terrorist. But contradictory to that, you endorsed prophesies of Gandhiji through the affable character ‘Munnabhai’. What’s your take on that?
Sanjay: As far as the tag of terrorist is concerned, I don’t believe anyone in India can say that any member of the Dutt family was ever associated with terrorism. I appreciate and thank Hon’ble Supreme Court for validating my acquittal and rejecting all those false reports and implications. I still remember the hearing, when I stood in the court and the Hon’ble Judge negated all allegations, stating that I was never a terrorist.
Swati: Please tell us about the lovable character ‘Munnabhai’, which literally transformed the whole generation with his bindaas style. What influenced you to accept this role?
Sanjay: When Raju Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra came up with this project, I instantly knew that it is going to be a huge hit among the masses. Rarely do we come across such a story, which has such universal appeal and the ability to touch the lives of millions. I agreed to do the role the moment I read it. Talking about influences, my father was an ardent Gandhian. As kids, we were taught the values and teachings of Gandhiji and they were instilled in us right from when we started our formal education. But, as youth and as a grown up adult, let me confess that I had forgotten the values and preaching of Gandhiji. This movie helped me understand and learn the core principles of Gandhi thought.
Swati: Your new film ‘Lamhaa’ deals with terrorism in Kashmir. What do you have to say about the growing menace of Naxalism, terrorists and ultra groups in the North East?
Sanjay: This indeed is a sorry state of affairs. I’m really a small person to state anything on such big issues, which need to be sorted out immediately. But, I understand this is not something which can be tackled so easily. Like the case in Kashmir, people there live in a state of constant fear. The story of my new film ‘Lamhaa’ also talks about how innocent civilians of the state make their living under round-the-clock security vigilance and the threat of looming terrorists.
Swati: Your father was a Hindu while your mother was a Muslim. Did you ever feel the need to prove to anyone your identity?
Sanjay: Look, it all depends on how you have been raised. The values that my parents taught were largely based on the principle of humanity, rather than the preaching of gospels of any specific religion. We worshiped at the temple and the mosque with the same fervour. And as far as proving my identity to anyone is concerned, I’ll say that by the grace of Almighty, people have always liked me the way I am. Anyone can meet me, talk to me, and touch me unlike most of the actors here, so it never occurred to me the need to prove or not prove anything. I am the same person talking to you as any layman and that is the way I interact with whoever comes in contact with me.
Swati: Did you ever feel that your political innings would hurt your family’s sentiments?
Sanjay: Well, first of all, I’m not a politician. Secondly, this would not have happened, had my father been alive. Thirdly, Priya is a fantastic politician. She is doing fabulous job in her constituency. And lastly, I was never with the Samajwadi Party. I was there only for my friend Amar Singh. He is like my brother to me. The man supported me in the worst phase of my life and I owe him a lot. So, when he took ill, I had to be there with him. He literally used to have blood vomits and I felt a moral responsibility to take care of him and be around as a friend.
Swati: You are soon going to become a father again. How does it feel and what is Manyata’s role in your life?
Sanjay: It feels great. Manyata is a very important part of my life, and I’m happy that we got married and settled down. She is like an anchor in my life. I am thrilled over the baby that is coming and I long to spend time with my children and actually grow with them, which unfortunately never happened with Trishala.
Swati: Please tell us more about Trishala. How did she take the recent developments?
Sanjay: Well, she was a little apprehensive at first, but she is very understanding. I have really missed spending time with her during her growing up years. I have fought legal battles for parental rights for her and was denied the permission to attend the parent -teacher meetings, while she was in school and college. This hurts me a lot and I think she understands the pain of an ailing father deprived of his child’s love. But now, even she is happy with news of the new baby, and I am today the happiest person on earth.
Swati: You said you are happy now. This is like a hard earned happiness. Now as you look back, will you call this the most contented moment of your life?
Sanjay: See, I’ll tell you that I can’t say that this is the most contented moment of my life. I have seen a lot of bad times in my life. I have learnt and moved on. Even the jail term, I take it as a lesson.
Swati: Sanjay, it might sound a little awkward, but how was your jail term. What is it like being in confinement?
Sanjay: (Smiles) If I lock you in this room itself, even with all amenities of life, you would not be able to survive for two months. It was the worst moment of my life. Let me just say – jail is not the best thing in life.
Swati: When is ‘Munnabhai 3’ coming?
Sanjay: The script is being prepared, and it’s coming out really fantastic. Very soon people will know what it will be called, but let me say that it is definitely not ‘Munnabhai Chale Amrika’.
Swati: Tell us about the actor you idolize in Bollywood?
Sanjay: Personally, I admire Amit ji. He has a great personality! I had a few opportunities to work with him, it was sheer pleasure.
Adapted by: Bikas Bhagat