He has seen the best of times. He has seen the worst of times. But he still remains larger than life
From his days of distressing addiction to the phase of deaddiction in the US, then meeting first wife Richa, going to jail and how he was humbled there, Sanjay Dutt bares all to Sulabh Swacch Bharat
First of all I would like to clearly say that I have put all the controversies of my life far behind me. But I don’t want to forget a few things intentionally, things which taught me the real lessons of life. Even today I look back and ponder over those moments. In 1971, I worked as a child artist in Papa’s film Reshma Aur Shera. In the year 1981, I worked as hero in my debut film Rocky. When I unfold the pages of history, many memories come alive. In the span of 35 years, I have worked in more than 120 movies. There are many movies that I don’t want to talk about. But Vidhata, Naam, Imaandar, Hathiyaar, Krodh, Thanedar, Sadak, Saajan, Yalgaar, Gumraah, Dushman, Haseena Maan Jayegi, Vaastav, Mission Kashmir, Kurukshetra, LOC, Munnabhai MBBS, Musafir, Parineeta, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Shootout at Lokhandwala, Agnipath, PK and many other such movies will always remain with me as part of the bank of my unforgettable memories. These are lifelong treasures for me.
Apart from my family, I got love from everyone. I have been educated in a boarding school. Unfortunately, I fell into the wrong company. People talked of me as rich father’s spoilt child. Those memories smother me even till today. Actually, I was quite close to my mother. But I took advantage of her love. I gradually got trapped in bad company and drugs. As it happens usually, and it happened with me too, before I knew how far I had waded into the dirty pool, I was doomed.
I would like to narrate one incident from those dark days of my life. One day after taking a heavy doze of heroine I went to sleep. I later felt a little hungry and asked the caretaker of the house to give me some food. The caretaker cried and said: “Sanju Baba, you got up after two full days.” That was shocking and still, I could not free myself from the grip of drugs for nine long years. I finally got over with it when my father stood by me firmly and helped me kick the habit. It was due to his patience and love that I completely came out of drug addiction.
Regret of my life
I will always regret one thing, that Papa could not see me today. He was a firm believer of Gandhism. He was a very disciplined person. He raised his kids in the most ordinary way. I remember we used to go to school by bus or autorickshaw. One day Papa asked me, “Do you respect me or fear me?” I said: “I respect you.” He immediately said: “Don’t lie, you are scared of me, because you know that you are hiding something from me. Just after that I told him that drugs is taking my life away. I am not able to recognise myself, I confessed.
I was always asked what kind of drugs I was addicted to. There are no drugs in the world that I have not done. When my father took me to Miami for rehab, doctors gave me a list of drugs and I ticked every drug on it because I had taken all of them. The doctors were shocked. They told Papa: “Going by the drugs he did, he should have been dead by now.” Perhaps the doctors of America did not know that we grew up having ghee and lassi (clarified butter and yoghurt)
After getting deaddicted I did not want to return to India. Despite the fact that my father was with me at every step, I had the fear of drug peddlers in my mind. But I did not lose the confidence and faith in myself. In 1985, I returned to cinema in Jaan Ki Baazi, then eventually Takatvar, Thanedaar, Sadak, Sajan, Khalnayak. Fortunately, some of them were superhits. The world around looked like a bed of roses again. I happened to meet my wife Richa Sharma in America. We got married and our daughter Trishala came to us. However, it couldn’t last for long, as Richa’s brain cancer faded all our happiness.
For several years, I was on tenterhooks and surrounded by controversies. Just a year back I got liberated. Five years ago, Manyata came to my life when I was going through a sticky patch. But she made me feel secure and stable. Perhaps my days spent in jail altered me altogether. I earned Rs 50 per day in jail from making envelopes and working as RJ in YCP Radio. My earnings in jail were Rs 3,800 and I spent most of it in items of daily use. My ego and pride were crushed in jail. I used to eat and live with criminals and killers. But the entire experience turned me into a really humble person.
I would just like to suggest to my young friends that never take any step under pressure or just to prove some thing to someone. I would never like to say that I took drugs under the pressure of my friends. I just wanted to be part of the peer group; that is how we tend to go astray. Like many times, when a good friend reads a particular book, all his friends want to go through it as well. You should know your desires and choices. Once in a blue moon one can have a beer, especially on Saturday nights, but in moderate quantity. But stay away from drugs at any cost.
It is really a matter of elation for me that despite being away from celluloid for such long years my fans admire me. I know that a few people have still not forgiven me. Then why is this craze still on? My friends and relatives says that even outside the screen, my personality is larger than life. I am a flesh and blood person. I never hesitate to ask for forgiveness whenever I go wrong. I am just a normal being.
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