Your book is titled Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy. What, in your opinion, was the ‘craziest’ thing he did in his life among all his list of misdemeanours?
In 1993, after Sanjay was arrested due to his alleged involvement in Mumbai serial blasts, he had to spend many agonizing months in jail. It was devastating for him and his family. After the Herculean efforts of his father Sunil Dutt, he somehow got bail. Now, naturally this was the time when Sanjay should have been keeping a low, sanitised profile. But no, despite serving time in jail and the case hanging above his head, it was as if he was still not scared of the law. Like the saying goes, ‘Beauty fades, dumb is forever.’
Everyone, including Sanjay himself was aware he was under the radar of investigative agencies, yet he was found speaking to a notorious underworld guy on the telephone for 45 minutes. It was nothing short of crazy – suicidal even – that Sanjay still had associations with the underworld. Interestingly, when he was talking to this underworld don, he was en route to Shirdi to pray at the temple of Sai Baba for his case. Isn’t it crazy?
Rekha, Rajesh Khanna or Sanjay Dutt – among all your subjects, whose life is most fascinating and why?
Sanjay Dutt, undoubtedly. The Rajesh Khanna story was a tragic story about the loneliness of a superstar. Rekha’s story was an underdog’s story of incredible survival. But Sanjay Dutt’s life is a story of epic proportions - the good, the bad and, at times, the disastrously absurd, the conflicts, the many heart-breaking tragedies, and overwhelming triumphs. A life that is sometimes difficult to comprehend, full of moments of insanity, often stranger than any fiction. Sanjay’s life has a film-like quality; there are so many twists and turns.Even now, if I think about his story, it still feels like a strange tragicomedy, heart-breaking yet crazily funny. Difficult to believe.
If you had to make a mainstream, 100-crore movie on your books who would you cast as Rekha, Rajesh Khanna and Sanjay Dutt…
Rekha - Kangana Ranaut
Rajesh Khanna - Aamir Khan
Sanjay Dutt - Ranbir Kapoor
The one lesson that Sanjay Dutt’s controversial life has taught you….
His entire life is a guidebook of what NOT to do. Every incident. Every story.
From the brief glimpses it offers, how true do you think Sanju is to Sanjay Dutt’s life?
Raju Hirani is one of the best filmmakers we have. Despite viewing Sanjay’s life through rose-tinted glasses, Mr Hirani has enthused it with his trademark elements of fun and a message of hope. And Ranbir looks spectacular. But I hope he talks about Sanjay’s relationships and his case with objectivity. Not everything can be shrouded in the garb of fun and comedy. These are the serious incidents that made Sanjay what he ultimately became.
From your understanding of his persona, what are his three best qualities? And what are his worst?
Sanjay’s honesty. He is one of the last of the freewheeling, straight-shooting film stars. He is totally unconcerned with people’s reactions. For instance, about his love affairs and philandering, he said, ‘I was in three relationships at one point of time.’ When asked how he managed this, he said, ‘You need to be clever . . . one shouldn’t know what is happening with the other.’ On another occasion, Sanjay was asked how to impress a woman. He said, ‘If you like a woman, then make her feel like your mother . . . become a little boy . . . let her feel protective about you. And you are scoring, buddy!’ You can laugh but can you imagine other stars saying these things, especially today, when Bollywood is an altogether more guarded place? And everything is controlled by image-makers and PR representatives. As a writer and journalist, I respect Sanjay Dutt immensely for this honesty. He values friendship, he is extremely loyal. He is the star who made the maximum number of comebacks.
His worst quality may be his stupidity. You may call it his artlessness and naiveté. Sanjay seems like the boy who never grew up.
From among the current stars, whose biography would make for an interesting read?
Kangana Ranaut. What a brilliant actress! What a cracking story!
Check out these excerpts from the much spoken about biography: