He's in the proverbial eye of the storm. He's on the front page headlines every day. As he awaits his court verdict, he tries to stay cool. Evidently, yesterday's Sanju baba has matured and mellowed. On a humid afternoon, he's at home, where he's caught in an introspective mood. So, here's Sanjay Dutt in a heart-to-heart interview with Nilufer Qureshi
It's been two years since your father passed away. Have you reconciled yourself to his loss?
How can any son reconcile to his parents' loss? It's not the same without dad.. there will always be a certain emptiness in my life. I wanted to say so many things to him, especially, "Dad, I love you so, so much." But when he was there, I took him for granted.
Today, I know if you love someone, tell them that without a moment's hesitation. I was really very depressed before his death anniversary. If he was alive, I know things would have been different for me. I'm now responsible for my two sisters. I want to fulfill all his dreams. I know he is up there looking after us, after me.
You haven't been keeping well.. what's the problem?
I was down with a terrible attack of hyperacidity. I was miserable because it makes you really low. Now I have a back situation with my spinal cord, there is a problem between disc four and disc five. I go to Nanavati hospital every day for physiotherapy. Hopefully, my back should heal and I won't have to go in for surgery .
Your performance in Shootout at Lokhandwala has been appreciated..
I believe so. It was great fun doing the film, I'm told that it's doing well. It feels good when your work is appreciated. I have been a spontaneous actor. But for this film, I actually met police officer, A A Khan, whom I'm playing. I wanted to get his mannerisms and personality right.
<b1>You're the only one among your contemporaries whose popularity has lasted.. ever thought of that?
(Smiles) I'm told this very often. But I've never thought of it that way I've never wasted time fuming if my co-actor has better lines of dialogue than mine. Most importantly, I think I've aged gracefully. I'm ready to play my 40plus age.. I can never dance around trees again.
See, I've been through many ups and downs even in my career. There was a phase when someone even told me, "Your films are no longer saleable." I was hurt but I let it pass. I feel great when street kids call out to me at traffic signals. People consider me as one of them.
Reportedly you have bought a red Ferrari recently. True?
(Irritated) Rubbish. I wish journos would get their facts right before printing such nonsense. I do have a red Ferrari but it's nearly two years old. I love cars but I haven't bought a single car since my dad passed away.
Talk is that Rajkumar Hirani is making his next film with Shah Rukh Khan.
I know that.. and I'm really happy for both Raju and Shah Rukh. Raju is a tremendous director and Shah Rukh is a superb actor.. the combination will be mind-blowing. I love Shah Rukh, he's like a kid brother. The more I know him, the more I love him. Raju is one of my favourite directors and a very dear friend.
Looking back, do your ever brood on the extremes that your life-graph has shown?
Honestly, I feel I'm the chosen one. As a kid I was reckless, I did what I wanted. But now I've mellowed. I enjoy the good moments, I don't let the low moments bog me down. My experiences have matured me. Still, I'm very emotional, a child at heart. Life has been tough but beautiful too.
Have you become more religious of late?
I've always been religious. My parents made sure that we prayed daily. I believe in God and follow every religion. I never leave my home without saying my prayers.
I'm very spiritual too. I do yoga every morning. I believe in life after death and also in reincarnation. I visited Shivnadi once. According to the date and time of your visit, they already have your previous birth inscribed on a leaf.
I was told that I was Gupta king in my previous birth. I went to war at the insistence of my wife and my loyal advisor. I killed many innocent people. On my return I realised that my wife was having an affair with my advisor.. they had conspired to send me to war. Disillusioned, I took to the forest and turned a Shiv bhakt.
Perhaps my hardships in this life are a penance of killing those innocent people. But because of my prayers to Lord Shiv, I was blessed with great parents.
<b3>Do you ever feel lonely?
Yes, sometimes. I'm sure we all do.. you can be lonely in a crowd.
Have you ever thought of getting married again?
(Laughs) I know what you're getting at. Believe me, I haven't planned my future. I will make decisions only when my case is over.
Do you still believe in love?
I am not cynical by nature. I still believe in love. Although the meaning of love is not what it used to be, I'm still a romantic. For me, right now, it's all about companionship and sharing my feelings.
Are you still in touch with Rhea?
Yes, very much. Rhea and I are friends. I will always be there for her and care for her. Leander (Paes) is a nice guy I meet them regularly Their daughter is adorable.
How involved are you in the life of your daughter Trishala?
We both know what is happening in each other's life. I was the one who asked her to study criminal law. I'm really happy she listened to my advice. Once she gets her degree, she will be working with the FBI. That will be one of the proudest moments in my life.
News is that your sister Priya is in the family way again.
Yes, we are all very happy. I wish dad was here with us. My kid sister is going to be a mother again. My nephew Siddharth will have a baby to play with.