Will Sanju show all of Sanjay Dutt’s controversial past? This is how the actor lived dangerously

Rajkumar Hirani’s new film Sanju, starring Ranbir Kapoor, is up for release. Based on Sanjay Dutt’s life, it is expected to chronicle his life’s journey. However, doubts have been expressed as to whether the director will do touch upon all the controversies in the actor’s life.

bollywood Updated: Jun 29, 2018 16:37 IST
Nivedita Mishra
Nivedita Mishra
Hindustan Times
Sanju,Ranbir Kapoor,Sanjay Dutt
Sanjay Dutt in a scene from Khalnayak, which also starred Madhuri Dixit.

Rajkumar Hirani’s directorial Sanju, starring Ranbir Kapoor, is up for release on Friday. A biopic of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, the film’s trailer, various posters, songs and video clips have already created a buzz. It would not be wrong to say that the film is easily one of most anticipated releases of the year.

And understandably so.

After all, the film is based on the life of Bollywood’s original ‘bad boy’, fondly called Sanju, by industry insiders. Son of Bollywood’s favourite couple, Sunil and Nargis Dutt, the actor is nothing short of a film blue blood. What’s more his onscreen image — of an anti hero, the action hero, the guy who made body building fashionable in Bollywood, the guy who kept bad company but had a heart of gold—further fuelled the victim-hood narrative in the eyes of the masses and his legion of fans.

Here’s a look at Sanjay’s troublesome past and the many controversies that have plagued his life. How much of this will find a place in Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju? Director Rajkumar Hirani said in a recent interview to Reuters, “What has Sanjay Dutt done? First of all, I have not given him a clean chit—you’ll see that in the film. But what is his crime? That he kept a gun. Did he shoot anybody with the gun? Did he threaten, or kill anybody with the gun? Why did it all happen? What was the reason? That’s the story of the film, which you’ll discover.”

Arms and the man

It is believed that Sanjay had a fascination for guns since the time he was a boy. In an article, suitably titled Guns and Poses, first published in 1996 in the Telegraph, UK, Sanjay is said to have “flunked school and, rejecting the offer of university in the States, he opted instead for fast cars, a rampant enthusiasm for guns, and drugs”.

This enthusiasm wasn’t necessarily accidental—the said article mentions how Sanjay was a notorious bad boy whose macho image was initially encouraged by his late father Sunil Dutt. It adds, “It was Sunil who taught him to ride motorbikes, hunt and master karate, splitting six bricks with one chop of his hand.”

As a teenager, Sanjay had been arrested for firing at a neighbour’s house.

Sanjay Dutt as a youngster. (HT Photo)

It didn’t help that his onscreen image was structured around his ‘machismo’. With his unusual physical stature and brooding persona (often fuelled by his drug addiction), made him Bollywood’s answer to Sylvester Stallone. If anything, the tagline of his last film before his arrest in 1993, Khalnayak, summed up the dilemma rather well: ‘An Amazing Portrait of a Sensitive Villain’.

In 1993, Sanjay was arrested and “charged under the stringent Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act or TADA for conspiracy in the blasts and receiving weapons from Abu Salem”. Sanjay confessed to acquiring three AK 56 rifles and ammunition, of which he returned two. In January 1993, Salem had visited his home with Samir Hingora and Hanif Kadawala, proprietors of Magnum Video, who were allegedly close associates of underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim. He said he got the gun as his family was threatened during Bombay riots. On hearing about Bombay serial blasts that followed and the arrest of Hingora and Kadawala, he asked his friend Yusuf Nulwalla to destroy the rifle.

Post his arrest and after jail terms marked by bails and furloughs, the Supreme Court of India in 2013 in its verdict sentenced him to jail for five years. Since he had already served 18 months, his term got reduced to three-and-a-half years. In 2007, a TADA court had acquitted him claiming that he was not a terrorist and had acquired arms for self defence. He was nonetheless convicted under the Arms Act and sentenced to six years of imprisonment.

Drugs problem

The fact is Sanjay was quite an enfante terrible right from a young age. Speaking to Rajat Sharma in Aap Ki Adalat, Sanjay explained how at a tender age, he began smoking the left-over cigarette pieces that his dad and his producer/director friends would throw away. Once, when his dad caught him red-handed, he was roundly thrashed and later sent to a boarding school.

However, of all his bad habits, it is nagging drug addiction issue which was Achilles Heel through much of late teens and early adulthood.

It is often said that his mother late Nargis’ death was a big reason for his addiction. Debunking it, a saner Sanjay had been quoted by Times of India in 2017 as saying that substance abuse is something a person does because he wants to do. “It’s not that I started because of mom. Mera dog mar gaya toh daaru pi raha hoon, aaj mera gadha mar gaya to daaru piyunga. These are just excuses. Substance abuse is something that you do if you want to do it. Once you get into it, it’s very difficult to leave. It is the worst thing in the world. My journey with substance abuse has been about 12 years.”

Sajnay Dutt and Kumar Gaurav in a still from his film, Naam.

In the report he also added how there wasn’t a drug he hadn’t done. When his dad took him to a rehab in USA, he was given a form to fill up which listed drugs in various categories. He ended up ticking every drug in it. The doctor there told his dad, “What kind of food do you eat in India? Going by the drugs he did, he should be dead by now!”

Sanju and his many affairs

Sanjay’s many affairs have been regularly reported in the various gossip magazines since his early days. However, viewers watching the trailer of Sanju might have been surprised when Ranbir Kapoor, as Sanjay, is seen talking about his 300-odd affairs/dalliances! It is rumoured that he had affairs with Tina Munim, Richa Sharma -- whom he married, Madhuri Dixit, model Rhea Pillai -- whom he married, and finally his present wife Manyata.

In early 1990s, Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit were often cast as a film’s leading pair.

After his break-up with Tina Munim, Sanjay began dating Richa, an aspiring actor, and went on to marry her. After Richa was diagnosed with brain tumour, she returned to the US, where her family was based, for treatment. Their daughter Trishala was born there.

Her absence may have put a strain on their relationship. Soon, rumours about his proximity to Madhuri, his co-star in a number of films then, started doing the rounds. Their onscreen chemistry only fuelled rumours. As ill-luck would have it, Sanjay was arrested in 1993, putting an abrupt end to this relationship.

In the years that followed as he went in and out of prison, model Rhea Pillai would become his pillar of strength. She is known to visit him regularly in the Bombay jail where he was incarcerated. Soon, they were married. However, this relationship too was short-lived and after few years, they got divorced.

A couple of years later, Sanjay began dating one-time actor Dilnawaz Shaikh aka Maanyata, whose sole claim to fame was an item number in 2003’s Prakash Jha directorial Gangajal. After dating for a couple of years, they got married in 2008. The couple are parents to twins—a son, Shahraan and a daughter, Iqra.

Sanjay Dutt with his children--Shahraan and Iqra.

Sanjay and the underworld

Underworld’s stranglehold over Bollywood continued for a long time and it meant that many stars, producers and directors were dependent on Mumbai dons to fund their films. In 2002, when cases against Sanjay were still in the court, tapes of his alleged conversation with Chota Shakeel, a close aide of Dawood Ibrahim, were released in the media. The tapes revealed that Shakeel had plans to kill Hrithik Roshan (referred to as Chikna). In July 2002, Times of India reported that Mumbai Police had submitted tapes in a court in Mumbai which contained an alleged conversation between Shakeel and Sanjay, film director Mahesh Manjrekar, and producers Harish Sughand and Sanjay Gupta.

In the said conversation, a number of things are discussed including Sanjay complaining to Shakeel about Hrithik and actor Govinda. There is also talk of Mahesh Manjrekar making a film based on the life of the gangster.

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First Published: Jun 28, 2018 17:46 IST