Sanju in her stride

Sanjay Dutt says his wife is the best thing in his life. She reciprocates. However, the controversies refuse to die. Manyata Dutt speaks to Princy Jain about her life, her husband and the never-ending controversies....

entertainment Updated: Jan 24, 2009 00:58 IST
Princy Jain
Princy Jain
Hindustan Times

She is the woman who is supposed to have driven a wedge between Sanjay Dutt and his sisters. But her friends refute that claim. Some say she is the driving force behind Dutt’s decision to join Samajwadi Party. But she says that she wasn’t. Doting hubby Sanju says: “She is the best thing to have happened to my life.”

Will the Manyata Dutt please come out?

Sanjay met Manyata nine years back. The current Mrs Dutt was Dilnasheen then, the daughter of a conservative Muslim businessman. She’d spent most of her life in Dubai, except for a brief stint in London to do a course in finance, but her family had moved back to Mumbai, where she was born.

Manyata debuted in a B-grade flick, Lovers Like Us, the rights for which, it is said, Sanjay now owns. Apparently, he has also pulled off all the DVDs from the market. Her first break was the item number in Prakash Jha’s Gangaajal. The song went unnoticed, but Jha gave her her new name. There were stories told of her past — that she had two boyfriends, Adil and Inna, and was married twice.

Then, suddenly, she disappeared from the film circuit.

In 2007, when she made her first public appearance with Sanjay at an award ceremony, it sparked a buzz. But it was their second outing together, at Aishwarya and Abhishek Bachchan’s wedding, that told the media that Sanjay was serious.

Poised and silent, she soon became his shadow — be it on sets, at parties or at court hearings. “Those were the toughest days for them,” says Dharam Oberoi, CEO of Sanjay Dutt Productions. “But Sanju never complained. He was happy to have her. She had brought him the security he was looking for. He wasn’t drinking any more, sleeping at 4 in the morning, or sponsoring friends’ activities.”

In July 2007, when Sanjay Dutt was sentenced to six years in jail in the Mumbai blasts case, news channels flashed images of Manyata chasing the police van, shuttling between Arthur Road Jail and Pune’s Yerwada Jail.

On February 11, 2008 Sanjay and Manyata tied the knot in Goa. And controversies started flying thick the very next day, when one Meraj Ul Rehman alleged that he was Manyata’s husband. He also claimed that they had a son whom Meraj wanted back from Manyata’s relatives in Dubai.

But the allegations were refuted by Maulana Abul Hasan Rahi Qazi, vice-president of Mumbai’s Madina Masjid who solemnised their wedding in 2003. Within two months of the wedding, he said, Dilnasheen had asked for divorce. “She complained that he was abusive, and addicted to alcohol. She also said that he had stolen her passport and other valuables. We started the procedure and their marriage was declared null when he didn’t reply after three notices.”

In defense of ‘close friend Mana’, actress Amisha Patel says, “Everyone has a past, she could have been anyone earlier. Today she is the legally wedded wife of Sanjay Dutt, and deserves everything that comes alongwith. From the moment Sanjay opens his eyes, to the time he goes to bed — she has changed it all.”

From all accounts, it seems Manyata went out of her way to build bridges with Sanjay’s family. “I have tried my best with the sisters, and Sanju knows it. No one else matters to me,” says Manyata. Amisha says, “Call up Notandas in Bandra, and they will tell you how many pieces of jewellery went to the Dutt sisters. I have seen her remembering all the birthdays and anniversaries and ordering gifts for everyone.”

But the Dutt sisters weren’t moved. Even Sanjay’s one-time friend, filmmaker Sanjay Gupta, says, “I am with the Dutts always, which include Sanjay and Priya. I wouldn’t like to say anything about Manyata."

But Manyata seems to have learnt to live with the criticism. “I believe in him and myself. I am aware of Sanju’s negative points. I have accepted him the way he is.”

“She can afford the best of brands,” says Amisha, “but meet her at her house and she is the warmest of housewives — clad in simple clothes with her hair tied up.” It’s the simplicity that Sanjay, finally in the clear after years in the docks, seems to have fallen for.

First Published: Jan 23, 2009 23:20 IST