Actor Sanjay Dutt’s upright gait, crisp shirt and blond highlights belie the image of a tense man awaiting the judgment on the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. He is in overdrive, dubbing for pending projects, and revelling in the success of Lage Raho Munnabhai. For the star who met the Mahatma onscreen, Gandhi Jayanti on Monday will also be a celebration of the phenomenon that hit India through his film — “Gandhigiri”. HT spoke to Dutt after a dubbing session in a Bandra studio.
What does Gandhi Jayanti mean to you after Lage Raho?
I am very proud to be a part of this film. When director Rajkumar Hirani first told me about it, I was wary but I knew it had a great message. The youth and all those who had forgotten Gandhiji have been reminded about him. His thoughts and sayings have returned. Gandhiji, looking down from heaven, must be happy to see a nation reawakened.
Have you incorporated the Mahatma’s teachings in your life?
As children, we were brought up in the Gandhian way. Our parents believed in his philosophy. But I did have to read up for the film, to figure out what he was all about. His message of peace was part of the Dutt family; I just had to be reminded about it and polish the information. Gandhiji also taught me to be calmer, truthful and to carry on with life.
Do you believe in turning the other cheek? In the film, Munna first turns the other cheek. But when he gets slapped again, he bashes up the guy, saying, “Do ke baad kya karneka, yeh Bapu ne nahin bola apne ko (Bapu didn’t tell us what to do after the second slap).” Gandhiji’s approach was to use non-violence, preach peace. It will take time but it will eventually work. If a population of a billion stands together and asks for peace, it can happen.
Is October 2 relevant today?
To be honest, I never knew what October 2 meant. I knew it was Gandhi Jayanti and that it was a dry day. It was only after Lage Raho that I understood its value.