Exclusive: Sanjay Dutt reveals how his jail experience changed him and made him take up 'Bhoomi'

"When I was in jail, I heard a lot of stories about people involved in rape, murder and stuff like that. I used to hear those guys talking about it without any remorse or without even regretting, ke yaar galti ho gayi, kyun ho gaya aisa,... Nothing! They were just normal. And it used to make me angry just to hear that...." says the actor

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Exclusive: Sanjay Dutt reveals how his jail experience changed him and made him take up 'Bhoomi'
Sanjay Dutt opens up on 'Bhoomi' and more...


Sanjay Dutt's much awaited comeback film Bhoomi hits the theatres this Friday. The actor, also known as Deadly Dutt and fondly addressed as Sanju Baba, was last seen in a special appearance in Rajkumar Hirani's 2014 release PK as Bhairon Singh. The actor has been away from the silver screen for quote sometime now and his fans have been waiting to witness the phenomenon that he is, once again in theatres. 

On a bright, sunny afternoon, in an exclusive conversation with dna, Sanjay Dutt gets candid about what made him take up Bhoomi, if there's any sort of pressure of a comeback, the immense love that he got from people while shooting in Agra and when he begins shooting the third installment of the Munnabhai franchise. Excerpts from the Q and A:

Is there any sort of pressure on you since you're making a comeback after such a long time?

Well, there's no pressure at all actually because I've always believed in doing good work and worked honestly. About the box office and all I don't know but definitely, we all have worked hard and made a good product, it's a good movie and I'm happy about that. 

Did you miss doing movies as much as we missed you on the screen?

Of course! I really missed being in front of the camera, on the sets but I kept (myself) away from it till the time I got the script I really wanted to make a comeback with and I felt Bhoomi was the right movie. 

What exactly made you pick up Bhoomi?

I believe in women empowerment. I believe in ladki bachao. I believe that a woman should not be treated as an animal. I believe that they have their rights. Actually what really changed and made me do Bhoomi was, when I was in jail, I met a lot of people involved in rape, murder and stuff like that. Not met them but heard about them, heard about their stories. Like I just told one journalist about the Nayana Pujari murder case in Pune, I think it's one of the most gruesome murders. I've not slept for 10 days after reading about it. And (when I was in jail) I used to hear those guys talking about it without any remorse or without even regretting, ke yaar galti ho gayi, kyun ho gaya aisa, I'm feeling bad... Nothing! They were just normal. And it used to make me angry just to hear that. And I always wanted to do something for her (Nayana's) foundation which I will. So when this movie came I kind of connected with it and I wanted to do this film just to let the people know what a lower middle class family can go through or what any family can go through with a rape victim, in terms of what happens to that family. Plus I wanted the families to get a high, to see this father getting justice for his daughter, which is not possible in real life.

Considering the present state of affairs in the society, do you think more of such movies should be made?

I'm not saying that movies should be made because of that, I mean there has to be some kind of change in the society. Even in this Delhi (Nirbhaya) rape-murder case, what is the system? The guy who was the most violent, he came out in three years and he's gone yaar. So...(justice) kahaan hai yaar?

What are the things you keep in mind when you plan to take up a film in general?

Number one, the most important thing for me is that the film has to be a commercial film. And if both the ingredients are there, being a commercial film with great performances, then I think it's the best thing which can happen. But for me it being commercial cinema is very important. 

Does it matter to you who your co-star is?

No, it doesn't. I've been in the industry for 30 years. When we guys came into the industry there was no actor who said isko lo usko lo and all that stuff, I don't believe in that. If somebody's getting work, I am nobody to take that work away from that person. It depends on the director's vision ke woh character mein kaun aayega, but today everything is about selling and numbers and all so I stay away from it.  

How did you find Aditi Rao Hydari as a co-star?

She's a fantastic actor I feel. We had fun together. She's a really really hard working girl and she's given it her best shot. Apart from Aditi, I think the whole crew, the cast was fantastic. Sharad (Kelkar) he's excelled in his acting, he's too good - his personality, his voice, the way he is. Piyush is fantastic. He's a young kid, young actor. Shekhar (Suman) ji he's also there. So, all are such great actors and what happens is when you have good actors, your work becomes better. I want to thank them also for their support.

At the trailer launch of Bhoomi, Aditi spoke about how warmly you welcome people and make them a part of your family, which is a bit rare in the industry. Where does it come from? Is it your upbringing or the experiences that have shaped you into the person you are today?

I think my upbringing is the most important thing. I feel when we are on the sets, there is no war. It's a family and I'm playing a character. (In this film) I'm playing her father. She has to be as comfortable with me as she's with her father. So the whole atmosphere on the sets was beautiful. Whether it's an action scene or Sharad ke sath there's some dramatic stuff but in between shots we used to laugh, we used to have fun. So, it should be fun while making a film.

Is action or revenge drama a space you personally enjoy doing more or do you find yourself more comfortable doing comedy?

I do everything. I enjoy good movies. I enjoy good cinema whether it's comedy or drama or thriller or action or whatever it is. The script has to be appealing and then it works for me.

How easy of difficult it is for you to switch in and out of a character like the one you play in Bhoomi?

I mean, I don't go to rehab after every film. I'm playing a character, I'm in that character as long as he says 'start sound' and once he says 'cut' I'm myself. 

(Image courtesy: Twitter)

Bhoomi has more of a UP setting, any prep you had to go through to get the local dialect right?

No no. It's basically Hindi. Shuddhi Hindi, thodi bohot jo UP ki bhasha hai. It's definitely not the UP lingo like Ka karat hau bhaiyya?. They speak shuddh Hindi.

Do you surrender yourself completely to the director or do you like to give your own inputs?

I do surrender myself to the director but definitely if I feel something then I do discuss with him and I do try to put my point across.

How collaborative is the entire process?

I believe that every movie is a team effort. It can't be just me or it can't be just Omung (Kumar) or Sandeep. There's Raj - the writer, the fight master, the music director, the dialogue writer, the screenplay writer, the actors, everybody's together and that's how a great film is made.

While you were shooting in Agra, a lot of reports said that the local people came to meet you and brought food for you. How was that experience like?

It's beautiful to see so much of love and so much of respect. They were so nice. I remember this old lady, she was about 75. She was sitting there and she called me. I touched her feet and all, so she blessed me and then she made some nice little roti and sabzi and gave me. It was so touching, I could feel that love you know. I mean, why should she do that? 

Your character in Bhoomi is a lot similar to Pitaah, do you agree?

I don't agree. This (Bhoomi) is absolutely different. But yes Pitaah was another great film that didn't do well. But Bhoomi is different. May be the topic is the same but the treatment is different. Like I said, I want every father, every family to feel that, I wish I could do that for my child (on watching the film). 

(Image courtesy: Twitter)

At the trailer launch you said that you were never sceptical about what will be shown in the Dutt biopic because you've never had anything to hide but there were several reports suggesting the contrary...

Like what?

Some reports said you probably called up Rajkumar Hirani saying a particular thing should be avoided, something on those lines?

Nothing like that, in fact nothing at all like that happened. 

So when such reports surface, do they upset you?

Nothing. Why should they upset me? 

Your daughter Trishala lives in the US and there's this question about a daughter's security, especially when she's away from you, which is always there in a parent. Is there any advice that you give her when you speak to her?

Trishala lives with her masis and her grandparents and all and they've raised her in a  beautiful way, with all the values, with all the dignity and respect, which I really appreciate for them to do that. Of course there are moments  when I call her up and tell her don't come home at this time late in the night. But she's 29 now so I can't even say that any more, but yet I say.

(Image courtesy: Trishala Dutt's Instagram)

There have been on and off rumours suggesting Trishala's planning to make her Bollywood debut. Is that happening?

That was about three - four years back, but now that bug has gone out of her head. She's more into fashion designing and forensics and all that stuff, so that's good. 

Finally, When do you begin Munnabhai 3?

(Smiles) I think they'll start shooting in October next year. They're still writing the script, so I think it'll begin by October next year (signs off). 


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