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Sanjay Dutt sought extension for his producers: Mahesh Bhatt

Mahesh Bhatt says, "Sanjay Dutt is no stranger to prison. He has been in there for almost two years. He wanted an extension because he didn’t want his producers, who are dependent on him, to be impacted by the verdict."

bollywood Updated: Apr 18, 2013 13:50 IST
Shalvi Mangaokar
Shalvi Mangaokar
Hindustan Times
Sanjay Dutt,Mahesh Bhatt,Priya Dutt

The petition was to save the industry from the impact of his verdict: Mahesh Bhatt

Sanjay Dutt is no stranger to prison. He has been in there for almost two years. Those who feel he filed this petition because he’s frightened of going (to jail) are blinded by their own thinking. He wanted an extension because he didn’t want his producers, who are dependent on him, to be impacted by the verdict. The petition sent to the Supreme Court was a petition of mercy; it wasn’t a legal argument.

He’s associated with various projects and the money riding on him is close to Rs 278 crore. His petition says, ‘My misdeed should not impact my workers and producers, so please give me an extension.’ The court saw the sanity of it; it has shown mercy not to Dutt, but instead it has shown the willingness to consider that his imprisonment will have an adverse impact on the producers.

He’s not going to spend this one month with his wife and children. Fourteen to 15 hours of his day will go into shooting for his current projects. The court isn’t looking at Dutt any differently. He very categorically said, and I don’t know why he said that, that he will not ask for pardon, but will serve the sentence. He should’ve kept that option open. But even those within the film fraternity who are not sympathetic towards Dutt agree that he should get a grace period to finish his work, so the producers aren’t affected. The mercy petition to the court was to save the industry from the impact of his verdict. There was no legal ground.

(Mahesh Bhatt is a filmmaker)

Hope some benefit of this exception is passed on to other convicts

Sanjay Dutt has usually found it easy to get from the justice system what others haven’t. He got bail 17 years ago when the CBI decided not to oppose his application for it.

I was a reporter on the case, which was being conducted inside Arthur Road Jail, and was a witness to the event. Without help, Sanjay would not have got bail when he did. Under TADA law, it was impossible. The Shiv Sena-BJP was in power in Maharashtra and Sunil Dutt (Sanjay’s father) begged Balasaheb Thackeray to help his son specifically, and he did.

Once bailed, Sanjay often got exemption from attending court when out shooting on location or abroad. As far as I know, this kindness was not extended to others who also, surely, had a living to make.

I was surprised to read reports of the verdict in the matter of Sanjay, who was convicted, but with the qualifier that he was not a terrorist. None of the others, as far as I know, were blessed in this way and I don’t know why it was done for Sanjay. This statement was waved about by his sister, Congress MP Priya Dutt, as a sign of Sanjay’s innocence. It is true that some benefit came out of all the favouritism.

A terrible law, poorly written and completely loaded against the accused, was exposed. His bail set a precedent. I hope some benefit of this latest exception made for Sanjay, being given more time to surrender, is passed on to other convicts.

(written by Aakar Patel who is a columnist)

Film producers most relieved

Rahul Aggarwal (Policegiri):
Sanjay hasn’t got what he asked for. He requested six months, but got only a month. He is busy prioritising whatever work he has to finish now. He has already called all his producers and directors to his house to decide what needs to be done. Yesterday, I spent the entire morning with him. For Policegiri, I have only a couple of days of shooting left. Sanjay has finished most of the dubbing, but a small portion is still left.

Karan Johar (Unglee): Sanjay didn’t want to leave his commitments incomplete. He’s always been very responsible towards the films he takes up. We have a song and the dubbing left for Unglee. I have known him all my life. He’s a close family friend. We have all grown up together. Duttsaab and my dad were really close friends. Sanjay used to fondly call my father Buddha uncle. He was the closest to him in the entire industry. Our hearts go out to him.

Vinod Chopra and Raj Kumar Hirani (P.K.): We are grateful to the Supreme Court for showing compassion towards Sanjay Dutt by granting him an additional four weeks to surrender. It will enable us to complete our film P.K. with him. We believe that the purpose of justice is to reform, more than to punish. Therefore, we sincerely hope that the same sense of compassion prevails when Sanjay is serving his sentence over the coming months.

First Published: Apr 18, 2013 11:38 IST