He says that the wisest decision he has ever taken was to marry Maanyata. "I was tired of living a nomad’s life. The stability I needed came in the form of Maanyata. I’m happy and settled now," he asserts.
He lauds his wife’s decision to not join politics. “She felt that she is too young to juggle two major responsibilities — running a home as well as a full-time career in politics,” he points out.
He has left the decision of getting into film production with him to her now. “She has done up the office recently,” he informs proudly. “She has just completed work on the interiors and we are setting everything up.”
Soham Shah has been waiting for a while to direct an adventure sports film for his banner. Is the debacle of the action adventure, Blue, the reason for the delay? Dutt shrugs off the rumour dismissively and retorts sharply, “We have already signed Soham and the film will start soon. Why would the debacle of Blue affect my home production? I was not the producer of Blue. As an actor, I have proved myself several times over. A hit or a flop can’t shake the ground I am standing on today.”
He argues that when a movie has to work, it will, irrespective of the odds. And when failure is destined, even a mega-budget, star-studded film like Blue doesn’t live up to expectations. “Failure should be shared by everyone involved,” he insists. “A flop does affect me to an extent, but not enough for me to give up my career in acting and filmmaking. That’s my passion.”
While Shah’s film is on track, Dutt refutes the buzz that he’s planning an Indianised Midnight Express and working on remakes of Padosan and Chashme Buddoor. “I don’t think I will be working on any remakes, it’s not a good idea,” he says.
So what is he looking forward to this year? “Three films — Lamhaa, Knock Out and No Problem. And a cute little baby in my arms. I really want to have a child this year. I am keeping my fingers crossed and praying for it to happen.”
Is Mani Shankar’s Knock Out a desi Phone Booth?
You have to watch the movie to decide that.
Is Chatur Singh Two Star an Indianised adaptation of Pink Panther?
Have you been signed on for the sequel of ShortKut — The Con Is On?
That is breaking news for me.
There have been plenty of problems with No Problem. Is your past animosity with Anil Kapoor one of the reasons?
There is no problem with No Problem. It’s a good movie with several talented actors. And there was never any animosity with Anil. There was healthy competition, that is common between people who share the same work platform.
Is Double Dhamaal happening?
Of course it is, I’ve already given my dates. We should begin shooting towards the end of this year. Rohit (Shetty) is also working on the All The Best sequel.
Mr Fraud is 70 per cent complete. Will the film ever see the light of the day?
You need to take this question to Ashtavinayak, the producer of the film. As far as I’m concerned, I have compensated by giving my dates for Mr Fraud to Luck that I did for the same production house.
Buzz is that you are making a special appearance in Kunal Kohli’s Break Ke Baad and you will be playing yourself.
I don’t know if I am doing the film. Dharam (manager Dharam Oberoi) was approached. Let’s see if it works out.
You have given your voice for Koochie Koochie Hota Hai, the animated version of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. What was the experience like?
I did this film only for Karan (Johar). But while dubbing, I found the movie to be nice. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is one of Karan’s best.
Could Ranbir Kapoor or Shahid Kapoor be the next Munnabhai?
It’s Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s decision whom he wants to cast in the next film. Munnabhai is his protégé after all. But one thing I am sure
of, Vinod will come to me first. We share a personal relationship that goes beyond work.
Mahesh Manjrekar is reportedly keen to team up with you again. Are you game?
Mahesh is a talented director, I would love to work with him. But as of now, he has not approached me for any project.
Seems you will never team up with once-good-friend Sanjay Gupta, not even to complete the long-in-the-making Alibaug?
I have done what I had to do for Gupta and have moved on. So has he. There is no chance of working together again.
Sanjay Dutt on national politics
Sanjay Dutt had planned to contest the last Lok Sabha elections from Lucknow on a Samajwadi Party (SP) ticket. But the Supreme Court had debarred him on legal grounds. The baton had been passed on to Nafisa Ali and Dutt had campaigned for her.
He resigned from the post after Amar Singh, who had been instrumental in bringing him into active politics, was expelled by the party president Mulayam Singh. With Singh’s exit, have his links with the SP broken or will he campaign for the party again?
“I never believed in the ideologies of the Samajwadi Party, so there is no chance of me campaigning for Mulayam Singh ever again,” Dutt asserts. “I was in SP only because of Amar Singh, otherwise I’m a staunch Congress follower. My family has been associated with the national party for decades.”
More recently he was in Leicester East, UK, canvassing for Labour MP Keith Vaz. He hit the campaign trail in his Munnabhai avatar and ensured that Vaz defeated Conservative candidate Jane Hunt and Liberal Democrat candidate, Ali Asghar. Dutt insists that Vaz is a great guy and needed his backing.
"Other than being associated with a number of social causes, Keith has extended his support to the Asian community there. MPs like him are required for Indians in a foreign country, which is why I was there for him,” the actor explains.
He says that electioneering in the UK is more peaceful. “The rallies and public meetings are well organised and they are far more mature there,” he says. “In India, what is most disturbing is the extreme poverty in the remote areas.”
‘I hope to see Trishala working for the FBI’
Trishala is studying Forensic Science in the US and will be graduating this year. She is an intelligent girl. I hope to see her working with the FBI in the future. I would be extremely disappointed to see her in the film industry.
‘I’m a part of Raj’s Football Premier League’
Shilpa Shetty’s husband, Raj Kundra, accompanied Sanjay Dutt during his campaigning in the UK. The star insists that Kundra is like a brother to him, and describes him as a “clean-hearted and good human being”. Quiz him on whether he intends to collaborate with Kundra on his business ventures — including the tiffin service in Britain or the Football Premier League he wishes to start in India — and Dutt says, “I haven’t thought about getting into business with Raj. But yes, I’m a part of the Football Premier League.”
He admits that he had wanted to buy an IPL cricket team, but the bidding price was too high. “It was like a bubble that would burst some day, so I didn’t go for the auction,” he reasons. “But if I get an offer to be the brand ambassador for one of the two new teams, Kochi or Pune, I will surely accept the offer. Cricket is a passion.”
Ad libbing with Dutt on his first commercial and TV offers
Your get-up in a recent soft drink commercial seems to have been lifted from a Hollywood comic book hero.
It has been inspired by a video game character.
How difficult was it lugging the costume around?
Since the suit was bulky and made of rubber, it was difficult moving around in it. The heat only added to my woes.
Buzz is that Ranbir Kapoor got paid more than you for the ad?
Strange that you should call this a rumour and yet choose to believe it. I have never been in the game of numbers or money. And I don’t believe in discussing my earnings in public.
Will we see you doing more commercials?
I am getting offers; this ad was required to break the ice. Now I am looking forward to doing more good work.
What about TV?
I am open to TV. In fact, I’ve always been open to it. I wasn’t the one shying away, but may be the multinational companies were, because of my case. Now that I am no longer a terror suspect, I’m looking forward to some good offers.