Sanjay Dutt: A reality that’s dented and painted

The story behind the ‘image’ of Sanjay Dutt that never existed


Sanjay Dutt in a still from one of his films

The call:

“Do you know he reaches the sets at 10 am sharp these days? In fact, just the other day, when he reached the sets, there was nobody around, only to learn that he had reported way too early on the sets. Can you believe that?” said the publicist, during an early morning conversation four months back. January was nearing its end, and thoughts of Sanjay Dutt going to jail were yet to be entertained.

Barely had we stepped into the second week of March, I received another call from a friend of Dutt, who informed me that “Baba was very worried over the verdict (on the Review Petition) that’s going to be delivered soon”.  ‘Baba’ is how Dutt Jr is referred to among his friends, while his immediate family members call him ‘Sanju’.

Elaborating on his meeting with the beleaguered star, the ‘friend’ said that he had gone to met Baba about a film only to find him looking distraught in his vanity van; he was continuously sipping on VAT 69 from a queer looking crystal fat-bottomed glass. The friend could never bring up the topic of a film with Dutt as he was a ‘bit high and in no mood to talk about the film’.

This bit of information was in sharp contrast to the image that the publicist was trying to sell me about Sanjay Dutt just a month back — about how he has given up smoking, drinking, late-night parties and ‘almost leading a life of celibacy’.

I was not convinced. Digging deeper, I was surprised to discover a cobweb of ‘manufactured information’ being created around Sanjay Dutt. The big question being: Why?

 Truth more familiar than fiction

It’s not that Sanjay Dutt never tried giving up some of his indulgences. He had given up drinking, but for a brief spell. He never gave up smoking though and used to light up every half an hour. As the day of the verdict drew near, Dutt became extremely restless. At first, he would smoke every half an hour, but following the verdict he began smoking every 15 minutes, especially since it became clear that he was going to jail. He also took to drinking heavily at night, almost every day. And given the battalion around him peddling all kinds of information about his greatness, these indulgences never came to light. Even his friends never went on record about how Dutt could never kick the bottle or the butt. And my story languished.

But as they say, truth cannot be kept under the lid for too long.

The real picture

During the final days of his freedom, Sanjay Dutt took to drinking heavily like he used to in his peak as a hero. His friends, who visited him, started talking about it now. I knew that it was just a matter of time before it made it to the media. And it did! (Click here to read the Mumbai Mirror article)

His lawyer told the court on Wednesday that Dutt is a chain smoker as he put up a spirited appeal to allow the star to smoke an electronic cigarette in jail. The magistrate dismissed the appeal and advised to quit smoking instead. (Read the Times of India report here).

So if Dutt has been told to quit smoking, what is the need of the article?  You wonder. The point I am trying to make with this article is this: Everyone’s aware that Dutt had not changed, then why try to create an aura around him? Why try to portray an image that was never there?  It in fact had a counter effect and laid the already beleaguered star open to severe criticisms.

Sanjay Dutt is as vulnerable and as emotional like any one of us. He smokes and drinks like a lot of us do. He tries to give up those habits, and fails like all the poor ‘ordinary’ souls. So why make him out to be a saint?

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