Sanjay Dutt had a grim look on his face as he walked out of the Tada court in Mumbai on Tuesday. It is still a while till the judge passes his verdict regarding his role — if any — in the 1993 Bombay blasts. But going by his latest film, Lage Raho Munnabhai, a runaway hit with the audiences, critics and members of the Indian National Congress, it seems that he has succeeded in replacing the image of him being a Kalashnikov-collecting wannabe ‘bhai’ with that of a popular proselytiser of Gandhian values. Well, that is, at least in the public’s eye.
It is hard to miss the ‘reformist’ message in the Munnabhai sequel — it pays to be nice. So no matter how the verdict goes in Mumbai, in Sheila Dikshitland, the 30 per cent entertainment tax imposed on ‘cinematographic exhibitions’ has been exempted. The movie, according to the Delhi government, upheld the Gandhian principles of truth and non-violence and deserved to be rewarded.
Whether Lage Raho Munnabhai manages to promote “philanthropic, charitable or religious activities”, the three categories exempted from paying entertainment tax, is too early to be gauged. It is also difficult to tell whether it is Mr Dutt or Delhi’s mandarins who are more in need of Gandhian reforms. Do not be surprised now if you see a spate of wonderfully soul-stirring movies coming to a theatre near you — like the one extolling the virtues of VV Giri, India’s fourth president.