Sanjay Dutt, who plays the title role in director Raju Hirani’s popular Munnabhai franchise, hopes to play the lovable don even when he turns 80. He says, "Vinod (producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra) once told me, "Tu assi saal ka ho jayega then also (even when you turn 80...), I will make Munnabhai with you."
Adding that he was told subsequent films might not include a romantic angle for the loveable don, Sanjay reveals, "I told Vinod, ‘let it be’. I miss Munnabhai and would love to play a ‘tapori’ (vagabond) with a conscience all my life."
The film franchise, Sanjay says, was responsible for a shift in his public image, which had taken a beating after he was arrested for illegal possession of arms in 1993. He says, "From khalnayak (villain), I became Munnabhai. A role like that comes once in a lifetime. It was not just an inspiration for others; it was a lesson for me as well."
Quiz him on whether he’s imbibed the qualities of his onscreen avatar — a goon who turns medical student to impress his father — and Sanjay says, "I understood what it means for a patient to be hugged by a doctor. A mere hug expresses so much warmth and happiness to the other person. Now, I make it a point to hug people I really like. It (Munnabhai) changed my life."
Recent rumours claimed that new faces were being considered to play Munnabhai and his sidekick Circuit (Arshad Warsi). But writer-director Raju clears all doubts, saying, "I can’t imagine anyone else playing Munna and Circuit."
Producer Vinod had earlier hinted at Raju being replaced by his assistant, Ferrari Ki Sawaari director Rajesh Mapuskar. Ask who will helm the third installment of the franchise, and Raju says, "It’s too early to say who will helm the project. The only constant will be Munna and Circuit. The film should release much before 2014."
At the moment, the trio is working on Peekay, which reportedly stars Aamir Khan.
"We will first start with that film. There is still some work left on the next Munnabhai script," Raju adds.
Ask whether the Munnabhai Chale America script, which was supposed to be the third part in the series, is scrapped, and Raju says, "There will be another story first. We may use some ideas from Chale America… or make that one later."