iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

Sujata Anandan, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, March 21, 2013
The late Sunil Dutt was in the US and his son, Sanjay, was in Mauritius when news broke of the latter’s possession of illegal arms soon after the Mumbai blasts of 1993.

I called their home and was told by a disbelieving Priya Dutt, then just a student, that she would get her brother to call me.

In the days before mobile phones, I sat beside my office phone, glaring at the red instrument, scolding other callers to get off the line, all through the afternoon and evening.

The phone rang four hours later, when Dutt junior returned to his hotel after his shooting schedule.

“I don't know why I alone am being accused of this, madam,” he said. I pounced on the word ‘alone’ and asked him to elaborate.

I was shocked when he named three leading film stars and claimed they too had bought Kalashnikovs.

“Don't you know possessing a gun like that is illegal,” I asked.

But, apparently, the macho men of Bollywood were much taken with a story doing the rounds then that legendary cop KPS Gill had presented a Kalashnikov seized from a terrorist to a leading actress of the time during one of her shoots in Chandigarh.

Her then director had apparently had it mounted on his office wall later.

Over the years, I realised that Dutt junior hadn’t been very clever in what he did subsequently either. He asked some friends to destroy his gun in a foundry.

Police found a spring from the gun and the whole lot landed in jail. So what happened to the guns with the other three stars?

The story goes that the sea off Mumbai makes for a much safer dumping ground.