Breaking all barriers : Sunjay Dutt
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Breaking all barriers : Sunjay Dutt

Dutt's charismatic appeal is wooing the masses, writes Arnab Banerjee.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2006 17:00 IST

Some stars revel in their natural good looks or their overall physical appeal which, to Indian audiences, perhaps is the most important aspect in any film. Such actors not only get successful in life but sometimes reach the iconic status too. Sadly, they give in to such flattery and never mature into good actors.

It was his father Sunil Dutt's directorial gift to Sunjay Dutt when he launched himin Rocky in the year 1981. Everyone sat up and took note of a dreamy eyed hunk who swayed lethargically on screen without as much as a basic sense of rhythm. He also delivered dialogues without any feel or the desired intonation. The film was an average hit and in one sweeping poll he was written off as a non performer, who could neither act nor dance to save his life. Before one pronounced judgment on him, he also landed himself with half a dozen film offers that would keep him busy for the next two years at least.

That was when Sunjay Dutt's first innings or the endearingly called Sunju Baba's introduction to the industry arrived. He went on to sign indiscriminately several films, most of which turned out to be duds - Johnny I Love You, Mera Faisla, Bekaraar, Jeeva, Inaam Dus Hazaar, Jaan Ki Baazi and numerous others which hit the screens andbefore one could say Jack Robbinson,they sank without a trace.

It was Mahesh Bhatt's Naam which gave Dutt a serious role and he managed to earn himself some audience sympathy, primarily because the role was beautifully written about a wayward NRI who is determined to emulate the success stories of many Indians who strike it rich overseas.

Sunjay Dutt's charismatic appeal coupled with great acting skills are wooing the masses and critics alike. The actor tasted success with Parineeta in 2005 and is looking forward to some important releases this year.

After yet another phase of forgettable films like

Kabzaa, Adharm, Yalgaar, Zehreelay, Krodh

et al Dutt shone briefly in another Mahesh Bhatt film


But it was Subhash Ghai's


that brought him national glory. As the multiple murderer who is being chased by the police, Dutt's character evokedmore acceptance from the audience even as the wrong doer. And thus started his next innings as the successful star who just had to be apart of a film to ensure a grand initial to any film. He also got noticed in Mahesh Manjrekar's


and Sanjay Gupta's


all in negative shades.

Dutt doesn't have too many roles to speak of but his destiny changed once again when Vidhu Vinod Chopra's

Munna Bhai MBBS

saw him shine in a black comedy. His comic timing and his overall comfort level before the camera by now were firmly established.

The year 2005 saw Dutt in a stellar second lead role in the classic adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee's


So, this week our crown goes to a star who has successfully bridged the gap between star performers and actors on the sheer strength of his charismatic appeal and great acting skills. The film is Sanjay Gupta's


As Balajeet Roy, a software engineer who is happily leading a

mast (

happy go lucky)

life with his wife (Celina Jaitley) but gets trapped in a black hole for fourteen years for no apparent rhyme or reason. Dutt is a delight to watch. He communicates the internal turmoil of a clueless man who doesn't get any answers for the suffering he undergoes with the anguish that is bone chilling. His tall frame turning into frenzied disorder conveys the right pitiful attitude. He also instills in himself the ability to fight and remain a survivor. Thereafter when he maims and kills ruthlessly, the pent up anger unleashes to give credence to his barbaric side. But his tender side remains as he breaks down every now and then.

It is perhaps one of the most well etched characters written for a mainstream actor in a long time. And Dutt does full justice to it. Dutt demonstrates more than convincingly that he can ascertain a complex role only if he gets an opportunity to match his overriding physical disposition with a nuanced role.And he attempts to break all stereotyped barriers of looking menacingly evil as with a loud roar or looking vulnerable as with lachrymose glands giving away. Dutt lends his own tender vulnerability to the characterization and therein lies his forte.

First Published: Jan 15, 2006 20:00 IST