Saurabh Shukla in a stupendous performance as Judge Tiwari in the recent hit Jolly LLB tells Jolly, the protagonist of the movie (played by Arshad Warsi), “Kanoon andha hota hai, judge nahi! Judge ko sab dikhta hai. (The law is blind not the judge. The judge can see everything).” The Supreme Court judges have shown that they are not blind and that they can see things as they are. And so Sanjay Dutt is finally going to jail. Its taken twenty years, yes, but justice though delayed has been delivered.
Somehow this hasn’t gone down well with a lot of Indians and there has been tremendous outpouring of public sympathy in support of the 53 year old man the world loves to call Sanju baba, acknowledging that the man never grew up. The are multiple arguments being made against Dutt’s sentencing.
The first argument being made in support of the man is that so many people who have committed other crimes have gone unpunished, so why should he be punished? The man behind the Bombay blasts (the city is now known as Mumbai), Dawood Ibrahim, is still a free man, so why punish Sanjay Dutt ?
A former magazine editor turned film producer who likes to see himself as a poet these days, tweeted saying that Dawood has the protection of many ministers, and Dutt doesn’t have much political support, and hence he is being punished. The tweet seems to have been removed since then.
This is a totally stupid argument to make. Since when did two negatives start to cancel out each other? Just because Dawood is still free, doesn’t mean Dutt did not commit a crime and thus shouldn’t be punished.
And don’t these people remember that in the 20 years that it has taken the Indian judicial system to arrive at a the decision, Sanjay Dutt has been a free man for nearly 18.5 years. During the period he has acted and produced movies and earned a lot of money. He has also married twice and produced progeny as well. So much for him being a troubled man.
The second argument being made particularly on television channels is about the money riding on Sanjay Dutt. What happens to all those movies which are being made right now with Dutt acting in them? Well, if Dutt has a major role, the movies get canned. If he doesn’t have a major role, then the producer shoots his part with some other actor. The losses faced by a few individuals shouldn’t be coming in the way of justice.
Also by signing Dutt to play a part in their movie, the producers were taking a risk. Dutt has been out on bail for a while now, and a bail can be cancelled. When a bail is cancelled the individual out on bail goes back to the prison. This isn’t rocket science. And every producer signing Dutt should have understood this risk that he was taking.
And now that risk has come to the fore, Dutt sympathisers can’t be asking but what about the money riding on him? The money riding on him was always risky. I would like to use an analogy which I have used in the past. The producers who signed on Dutt essentially became victims of what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls the turkey problem.
As he writes in his latest book Antifragile: “A turkey is fed for a thousand days by a butcher; every day confirms to its staff of analysts that butchers love turkeys ‘with increased statistical confidence.’” With the butcher feeding it on a regular basis, the turkey starts to expect that the good times will continue forever and the butcher will continue feeding it. But then a day comes when the butcher decides to kill the turkey and sell its meat. The producers assumed that Sanjay Dutt will always be out on bail and are now paying for that mistake. But like turkeys Dutt has also been slaughtered, suddenly and out of the blue.
As The Indian Express points out “The fate of three big budget films is riding on Sanjay Dutt with Zanjeer remake, Policegiri and Rajkumar Hirani’s Peekay, currently under production.” I am sure the nation can suffer this loss.
The third argument being made in support of Dutt, particularly by those who work for the Hindi film industry, is, that he is such a nice and a helpful man. He may be the nicest man in the world, but that doesn’t mean he did not commit a crime. And possessing illegal arms (a 9mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle) is no small matter.
As far as the general public goes, his gentle image is essentially an extension of two super-hit movies: Munnabhai MBBS and Lageraho Mubbabhai, where he played a lovable goon. But real life is different from reel life. Also to extend the argument every criminal’s mother must love him and find him to be a nice man, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a criminal.
Sanjay Dutt was first arrested on April 19,1993. Two months after his arrest Subhash Ghai’s badly made Khalnayak hit the screens and was a super-duper hit, such was the outpouring of sympathy for Dutt. The world also discovered “choli ke peeche kya hai!”, as if they did not know it already.
Sadly, no such anti-hero (the Bollywood term for a hero who plays a villain’s role) films are scheduled to be released. Dutt will have to thus spend time in jail, remembering his big superhit song from Munnabhai MBBS, which gave his career a much needed push. As the lines of the song written by Rahat Indori, one of the greatest living urdu poets, go:
Chanda mama so gaye sooraj chachu jage
Dekho pakdo yaaron, ghadi ke kaante bhage
Ek kahani khatam to dooji shuru ho gayi mamu
Subah ho gayi mamu, mamu, mamu
Subah ho gayi mamu, mamu, re mamu
The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on March 21, 2013
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)