On his 50th birthday Wednesday, Bollywood's troubled star Sanjay Dutt says his only wish is to leave his chequered past behind and move ahead as a free man.
"In the last 18 years, I've been fighting for my freedom and I feel the burden of the struggle now. I want to be free," Sanjay told IANS from Cape Town, South Africa.
"I want to walk into any consulate and get my visa. I want my passport to be with me. I want to visit any country I want. Most important of all I want the court cases to end," added the actor who battled with drug addiction and was also convicted in the 1993 Mumbai blasts under the arms act.
He says now he wishes for his "freedom".
"Can you gift me my freedom for my birthday? Otherwise the biggest gift god has given me is my wife Manyata. I'm very lucky to have her by my side," said the actor who is currently in Cape Town shooting "No Problem"
Friends from different parts of the world have flown in to celebrate the day and Sanjay says he also wanted his sisters - Namrata and Priya - to join him on this special day in his life.
"I've invited them. The day I turn 50 is important for me. And I'd like my family to be near me. I wish they could be here. No matter what misunderstandings we had, I'd like to wash them away on my 50th birthday."
Excerpts from an interview:
In Mumbai, the buzz is that your friends and family are flying in for your birthday?
I don't want any celebrations until Amar Singhji (Samajwadi Party general secretary) recovers. Once he returns to Delhi, I'll have a birthday celebration with him. But I heard from the grapevine here that the unit of "No Problem" are planning a small get-together for my birthday. But when I asked them they said, no party. But my friends are flying down.
Who are they?
Paresh from Chicago. I've known him for the last 25 years. We've grown up together. Then there's Mac from Los Angeles, another old and dear friend. Imran Ismail, who's here in South Africa. These are my three best friends who will be here on my birthday.
And from Mumbai?
Well I heard Bunty Walia is coming. Everything he does is announced on Facebook. So he has announced he's coming for my birthday.
Have you invited your sisters?
Yes, I have. I've invited them. The day I turn 50 is important for me. And I'd like my family to be near me. That's the way my parents would've wanted it. I wish they could be here, but they're busy with their own lives. No matter what misunderstandings we had, I'd like to wash them away on my 50th birthday. It's sad they can't be here. But I'm sure they've more important things to do.
Tell me about your most memorable birthday?
They've all been memorable in their own way, even the ones that came in 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.
It's very difficult to imagine Sanju Baba being 50.
At heart I'm still Baba. But when I look into the mirror, it's a reality. And I do feel 50, but not old. I've been in the film industry for so long. Yes, it's been a long innings. In the last 18 years, I've been fighting for my freedom and I feel the burden of the struggle now. I want to be free, Subhash.
I want to walk into any consulate and get my visa. I want my passport to be with me. I want to visit any country I want. Most important of all, I want the court cases to end.
So your mentor is recovering?
He is not my mentor. He is my brother and family. Amar Singhji stands by his friends and we've to stand by our friends. As soon as I get my visa, I'll fly down from here (in Cape Town) to Singapore to spend a couple of days with him.
So this friendship will last?
I've been betrayed by so-called friends many times. But this time I feel I've found a true friend. I've known him for 16 years. He has always stood by me, always been there in the worst situations in my life.
Your one birthday wish?
Freedom. Can you gift me my freedom for my birthday? Otherwise the biggest gift god has given me is my wife Manyata. She has stood by me and supported me unconditionally. I'm very lucky to have her by side.
What about a baby?
If that happens my happiness would be complete.