In the Summer of 1959, the 29th of July to be exact, an icon was born. His name is Sanjay Balraj Dutt, or more commonly known as Sanju Baba. Sanjay Dutt, one of Bollywood’s most talented celebrities, has acted in hundreds of films including Hathyar, Saajan, Khalnayak and of course his memorable performances in the Munnabhai films. It is not only for his films that Sanju Baba has made headlines. His personal life has had some controversy including his arrest, even with that he still remains one of the greatest actors ever.
Sanjay Dutt was born to Sunil Dutt and Nargis, two of the finest stars in classic Bollywood. He also has two sisters, Namrata Dutt and Priya Dutt, the latter being a member of the Indian National Congress as a Member Of Parliament for Lok Sabha, Mumbai North West.
Nargis died from pancreatic cancer on May 3, 1981, only a few weeks before Sanjay’s first film, Rocky, was to be released. Stricken and depressed, Sanjay took solace in drugs and became involved with anti-social parties. His father helped him by getting him back on the right track and Sanjay went to a rehab centre in Texas. In 1987, Sanjay Dutt married his first wife, the Late Richa Sharma. Richa was also an actress, who first appeared in Hum Naujawan in 1985. A year after their marriage, a baby girl was born and they named her Trishala. Sadly, just a few months after Trishala’s birth, Richa was diagnosed with brain cancer and the couple split soon after. Richa and Trishala went to stay with her parents while Sanjay went on with his career.
Sanjay Dutt became known in the 80’s as a dream boy turned bad boy. In 1993, Sanjay had a breakthrough role in Khalnayak as Ballu, the notorious criminal. You might still remember him as the one who wore that outrageous batman-like suit and cowboy hat and danced around with a silly grin on his face. Yup, that is him alright.
However, it was in that same year that Sanjay was arrested for connections to the Bombay Bombings and was sentenced to an 18 month jail term. Sanjay was charged with possession of illegal arms, ammunitions and a bomb vest. It was also during this time that news about him and his long time girlfriend, Rhea Pillai, hit the headlines. Rhea was seen standing alongside Sanjay during his jail term and every step of the way. Sanjay was released on bail and was given outstanding support by the people around him, including many of his fans. In 1998, Sanjay proposed to Rhea on Valentine’s Day and they got married the next night.
Again, luck was not on his side and the next few years would be tough in the actors personal life. His love life with Rhea dissipated a few years later, and they began living separately though bonded by marriage. On May 25, 2005, Sunil Dutt died in his sleep from a heart attack. In 2006, the court passed verdict that Sanjay was found guilty under the Arms Act of possessing an illegal weapon, but he was not convicted because the Judge believed he was not a terrorist. He was then arrested again on July 31, 2007 and was sentenced to a six year imprisonment. On August 20, 2007 the Court granted him permission of an Interim bail, and Sanjay was released on August 23rd. Once the interim bail was up, he was back again in jail by October. Then on the 27th November, 2007, Sanjay Dutt was again granted bail by the Supreme Court. In January of 2008, Sanjay and Rhea had their divorce finalized and Sanjay moved on to marry Manyata of February 10th of that year.
After reading all of this, we can’t help but wonder if this is really the life of Sanjay Dutt, the actor whom we all know? It’s really hard to believe it. His smile is like that of a mischievous boy, his comic roles in movies had audiences laughing and his charisma always captures everyone’s attention. His voice, his eyes… even the way he walks is a style that screams “Sanjay Dutt”. From his role in Khalnayak as Ballu to his role in Munnabhai M.B.B.S and Lage Raho Munnabhai as Munnabhai ,or Murli Prasad Sharma, Sanjay has always captured everyone’s heart.
Sanjay won the Best Actor Awards for his role in Vaastav as Raghunath Namdev Shivalkar, a character which every young boy idolizes. He then won Critics Best Actor Award for his role in Mission Kashmir as Inspector Inayat Khan, his first film with Hrithik Roshan. On the comedy front, he won the Best Comedian Award for his role in Munnabhai M.B.B.S. Role after role, Sanjay always surprises us with his talent.
Though we have always seen Sanjay cry in his movies it’s when Sanjay cries in real life that really makes people like me want to cry along with him. I remember watching the episode with Sanjay on Koffee with Karan, and there was the segment where they showed the public talking about him. The image of him, almost in tears, when an elderly lady spoke about him and praised him has always been implanted in my mind.
He will next be seen playing Vikrant Raina in Sanjay Ghandavi’s Kidnap, which opens on October 1st. The film also stars Imran Khan and Minissha Lamba. About casting Sanjay, the director said, “I think it was in 2002 or 2003 when Adi (Aditya Chopra) and my writer Shibani (Bathija) saw an episode of Farooque Sheikh’s Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai on television. Sanju baba was the guest on that show. Shibani was completely bowled over by baba’s love for his daughter Trishala and could see the pain and angst in his eyes. She called me immediately to say that we had found our Vikrant Raina. I caught the episode later and couldn’t agree more! Vikrant Raina was written for Sanjay Dutt!”
Sanjay is happy with how Kidnap turned out, “I am happy the film is complete, ready and looking good. It is my first release in 2008. I play a father to Sonia (Minissha Lamba) who is kidnapped by Kabir (Imran Khan). It’s an edge-of-the-seat thriller, which everyone is bound to enjoy. It has some great action and emotion and has been well written and directed. I hope my audience goes out and watches it.
Next up is EMI and also in the pipeline are Aladdin, Blue and Munnabhai 3. He has plans to start his own production house as well.
Being soft hearted, yet so strong willed, Sanjay has overcome the greatest of challenges. He was knocked down by them, but he continues to always get back on his feet. He has his shares of flops but is always seen rushing back with a greater hit, a comeback that will leave everyone talking. There will never be any lack of news involving Sanjay. Be it good or bad, his fans are always there for him, waiting for his next move. Sanjay Dutt, one of Bollywood’s most influential actors, I’ll await your next great move.