The Sanjay Dutt Interview: The Controversial Star on His life, Scandals and Struggles

The Sanjay Dutt Interview: The Controversial Star on His life, Scandals and Struggles

Sanjay Dutt is an enigma. As the controversial star celebrates his birthday today, Subhash K Jha picks up excerpts from his interviews with the actor that show a vulnerable childlike quality

Tell me about your most memorable birthday…

They’ve all been memorable in their own way, even the ones that came during my worst days. I don’t like a big birthday bash. I just want my near ones on my birthday. It’s tough to remember my past. But I want to move on.

I believe you’re trying to get back into shape again?

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.

Your life has gone through tremendous upheavals in recent  times. Do you think the worst  is  over?

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.

Are your wild days over?

Absolutely over.  I’m so  happy, touchwood. God has been kind to  me.

Do you feel less stressed  in life?

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. 

You’ve now started  life on a  clean  slate…

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. 

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 specially 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. 

You really stood by Maanyata?

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.

Wasn’t your sisters’ approval  of  your wife and  marriage important to  you?

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.

Tell me why do you think Maanayata is  the right  partner  for  you?

I’ve somewhere in my heart 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  of persons  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.

 How  do  you manage a  balancing act between  your wife and sister?

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 

Were  you deeply disappointed when  you were denied  permission to  contest elections a few years ago?

I really respect  the honorable  court’s verdict,  not  just for  their  decision now  but from the time I’ve been in and out of courts. I  really  respect  Justice Kode. He was  the person instrumental  in  getting me   out of  the  terror case.  I  remember  Justice Kode telling in court  what I most wanted to hear. That  I  wasn’t a terrorist.  It  was  the happiest  moment  of  my  life. That day I  missed  my father. Because he  lived only to  hear  those words. And although the honourable Supreme Court   did not think  it  wise for me to contest election because  it would’ve opened  up a  pandora’s  box, it did give me  a  character  certificate  where  it’s said that  I come from a good family and that I’m  a good human being,  a  good actor  and that I’m not  a habitual offender. That  character certificate means more to  me than winning  an elections. I’ve waited  for  sixteen  years  for  the  honorable courts to give   me that certificate.

Are  you at  peace  with yourself?

I was out 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. 

Why are you so hard to pin down?

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 .

You and Sunil Dutt came together as father and son  in Munnabhai.

Well…technically we were together in my dad’s Reshma Aur Shera where I participated in a Qawwalli sequence as a child, and then my launch-film  Rocky where though he played  my father  his role ended before I came on. Initially when I had to face the camera with him for Munnabhai I felt  a certain  awkwardness — you know how it is. But Dad is so cool. Before we shot together he called me to his makeup van and helped me chill out. That did it.

Salman Khan  seems to have modelled himself on you?

I wish he would model himself  on my  better qualities . I do have  many  good qualities. Salman should keep a low profile and work hard and  get serious in  life. All the playing around isn’t finally worth it. Ultimately all of us want to be remembered as a good hardworking human beings. The hit-and-run incident wouldn’t have made such a media splash if  it wasn’t Salman Khan. But because he has been constantly in the news he went to jail and had to suffer.

Do you feel you could have  done much more with your career if all the  legal and personal obstacles?

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.

You’ve done a whole lot of films with Sanjay Gupta, though none of them has been really successful.

That’s because he never found the right producers. That’s why I told him to produce his own film.  Then there’re no pressures from  anywhere. Unfortunately Sanjay has not been too fortunate about his producers like Satish Tandon of Jung  who  wasn’t basically a film producer. I guess Sanjay Gupta got into these kinds of projects for the same reason as Mahesh Manjrekar: insecurity. Why did Mahesh  make some of his recent films? I kept warning him that money isn’t everything. Career options should come first.

You’re a very loyal friend. Do you have friends who’ll stand by you during crisis?

Absolutely. Mahesh(Manjrekar) , Sanjay(Gupta), Afzal Khan and Robin Bhatt are there. They’ve stood by me through every crisis. As for those who let me down, after living life in jail and going through legal hassles for the last nine years, I’ve learnt to let go.  Yes, there were many people who didn’t stand by me. It made me sad in the beginning. But  gradually the bitterness was washed away.

The determination to play characters your own age seems to be part of your character.

Yeah that’s the way I am.One has to accept one isn’t 21 any longer.Audiences certainly don’t want to see me as a college kid on motorcycles and all that stuff.

Your fans say you look like a Hollywood star.

But no one has come up with an offer in Hollywood yet. I can’t start from scratch in a strange country. If I get a good offer, I’d certainly do it. Right now I’m excited about roles in Hindi films.