Death of his mother- A funeral and a premiere
‘We carefully dressed her in her red and green wedding sari. Sanjay couldn’t take it – he just blanked out. He was there, but couldn’t help with any of the rituals,’ said Namrata Dutt and Sanjay seemed hardly aware of what was going on. His mother was gone, just five days before the premiere of Rocky.
But he did not cry.
The premiere of Rocky was held, as Nargis had wanted, on 8 May. Following his mother’s funeral, the days leading to the release of Rocky passed in a blur for Sanjay. ‘They had to release the film. They had to keep a premiere which made no sense to me or my father,’ said Sanjay. On the day of the premiere, the Dutts visited Nargis’s grave and tearfully laid flowers there. Sanjay vacantly stared at his mother’s grave. For a woman who would animate the entire household Nargis’s grave seemed impossibly silent.
‘He couldn’t understand if he should be happy or cry on this big day when his first movie was getting released,’ said Sunil. The father stepped in to do some of the things that Nargis would ordinarily have taken care of for Sanjay. On the evening of the premiere, at around 7 p.m., he went to Sanjay’s room where the man of the evening was lying about in a sleepy haze. ‘Get ready, yaar. Look how you look. Shave up and take a bath . . . And tell others to get ready . . . we have to leave at eight,’ Sunil said, trying to sound casual and cheerful in the face of Sanjay’s obvious addiction and the general pall of gloom.
The who’s who of the film industry had turned up at Ganga cinema hall in Mumbai. Close friends and acquaintances had come to celebrate Sanjay’s first film at the packed theatre. But seat E-15 was empty. Sunil sat to the right of the empty seat and Sanjay to its left. As the lights in the hall dimmed and the movie started rolling, all eyes were on the screen. But Sanjay and Sunil kept turning to look at the vacant seat. ‘I yet remember my dad was sitting there and one man came and he said, “Dutt Sahab, yeh seat empty hai? [Dutt Sahab, is this seat empty?]” Dad said, “No, this is my wife’s seat,”’ Sanjay recalled.
When the film was over, the hall erupted in applause. The fat cats of the film industry embraced a listless Sanjay and congratulated him. But the person whose seal of approval he most wanted was not there.
Yasser Usman's book 'Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood's Bad Boy'
Sanjay in rehab and how his dead mother saved him
Sunil had been missing his son. He seldom showed it but his thoughts would constantly be with Sanjay, who was on the other side of the globe. As soon as Sunil got a break from work, he flew down for a brief visit. But he was in for a shock: Sunil suspected that Sanjay had started drinking again. Were the Dutts destined to forever lurch from crisis to crisis? Was there any way to break this horrible, wrenching circle of failed rehab attempts? The father’s heart was broken, seemingly beyond repair. He had got Sanjay the best treatment that money could buy and yet he had failed to save his son. He could clearly see that if left unchecked Sanjay would soon be back on drugs too. If Sunil had arrived in the States full of new hope, he left crestfallen and despondent.
In difficult moments, it was always Nargis’s tape recordings that Sunil would lean on for support. In a last-ditch attempt to save Sanjay, Sunil sent him some tapes of Nargis talking during her final days.
Sanjay had not cried when his mother died. It had been three long years since Nargis had passed away but Sanjay’s wounds were still festering. When Sanjay got the tapes from Sunil he had no idea what was on them. He pressed play and suddenly the room was filled with Nargis’s voice. He remembered his childhood, when his mother’s voice would reverberate through the Dutt mansion. The voice he was hearing now was different – it was weak, broken and in immense pain. But his mother still spoke of her dreams for her beloved Sanju, and gave him some gentle advice. More than anything, Sanju . . . Keep your humility. Keep your character. Never show off. Always be humble and always respect the elders. That is the thing that is going to take you far. And that is going to give you strength in your work . . .
The healing process begins
Sanjay sat, statue-like, and listened. It was just him and his mother in that room. ‘I heard my mother’s voice . . . advising me and telling me things and how much she loved me and how much she cared about me . . . and how much she expected from me,’ recalled Sanjay. ‘. . . I burst out crying and I cried and cried . . .'
He was listening to his mother’s dying wish. ‘I cried continuously for four days . . . I think till then I hadn’t grieved for her when she passed away. So her voice and those tapes changed everything in my life,’ said Sanjay. He knew that he had to rebuild his life.
For a moment he felt his mother had come back from the dead to save him.
The incident was a turning point in Sanjay’s life. His mother’s weak yet loving voice cast light where there had been darkness. Confident that his mother was watching over him, Sanjay started to take his treatment seriously. The healing truly began.
Read the first excerpt HERE
Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy has been written by Yasser Usman and published by Juggernaut.