I hate interviewing Sanjay Dutt. Getting quotable quotes from him has always signalled a long runaround. Once he made me trudge up a hill at Bandstand and stand under the mid-day sun for close to an hour.
Red-faced, when I reminded him that I was “waiting” he pointed to a carload of firang visitors who had just turned up and said, “They’re waiting too. Why don’t you come back tomorrow?” I didn’t go back. I’d suffered a sun stroke!
On another occasion, he kept me hanging around the Vastav sets all day. Mahesh Manjrekar ensured that I had a roof over my head to prevent another sun stroke. He even gave me an interview to pass time.
It was late afternoon when the summons finally came. But when I uttered the word ‘interview’.. Sanjay turned deaf and mute. I wanted some answers this time. I got a few, between shots.
We were halfway through, when he was called away to take another swipe at the matka. They were filming the Janmashtami song, Har taraf hai yeh shor, aaya Gokul ka chor. Sanjay was clambering up a human pyramid when it collapsed. In the melee, he disappeared. I went hunting for him.
“Baba's gone home, it’s time for him to hit the gym,” I was told. Would he be back? “Maybe, but not for a while.” I once again returned with an incomplete interview.
Third time, I was determined to get lucky, even if it meant three trips. The first stop was Filmistan studio. Sanjay was grooving in a smoke-filled discotheque. “Too much lobaan around, you’ll make yourself ill. Come tomorrow, we'll speak,” he promised.
Cut to Filmalaya studio. His make-up room was full of cigarette smoke and people.. so I stepped out to wait.
A fellow journo passing by confidently told me that Sanjay wasn't in the mood to speak. When he joined me on the steps, I waited for an excuse. He surprised me by talking.. about everything. When the conversation turned to his mother, Nargis, and then wife Richa who had been diagnosed with cancer, I saw the hint of tears in his eyes.
Of course, the interview was interrupted. He promised to complete it at Film City. The next day he spotted me and sighed, “Why are you wasting your time chasing me? Write what you want, I won’t dispute it. What does it matter what I think, like or want from life? It’s your life that’s important. Quit this job, sit at home, have babies.”
I told him I enjoyed my job, even if it meant chasing after catch-me-if-you-can stars. “Okay, let’s have lunch first,” he suggested. I told him had eaten before leaving home.
“Home? Where's that?” he enquired. “Vashi, New Bombay,” I gritted my teeth. What had I eaten? Roti and sabzi. Who had made it? My ma-in-law. Did my in-laws live with me? When had I married? What did my husband do? His curiosity was boundless. The interview remained incomplete. Oof!