Leading male superstars of the Hindi film industry change anything that they don’t like about the movies they choose to act in.
If they don’t like the actress (or female actor, as the actresses like to call themselves these days) who is starring opposite them, they can change the actress.
Or if they are having an affair with an upcoming actress on the sly, they can promote her and get her a role in the movie by getting the writers to introduce an extra character in the storyline.
If they don’t like the storyline of the movie, they can ask the writers and the director to rework it.
Items numbers, songs, comic tracks, action sequences and just about anything that the male superstar demands is added to the movie. Even the end of a movie can be changed, if the superstar is not happy with the end that has been shot or narrated to him.
The Hindi film industry in a very euphemistic way uses the term “suggestions” in reference to all the meddling around by the leading male superstars.
Nevertheless this ability of male superstars to get almost anything that they don’t like changed is limited to “reel life” and not “real life”. Not unless if you are Sanjay Dutt.
The actor was supposed to surrender on April 18, 2013, to undergo his remaining jail sentence of 42 months, for having held onto illegal weapons under the Arms Act. But he had urged the Supreme Court to allow him to finishing shooting of seven films starring him. This he said would take him at least 196 days (that is around six and a half months). He also told the court that Rs 278 crore had been invested in these films.
The Supreme Court granted Dutt an extension on “humanitarian grounds”. “Considering the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case and reasons stated in the petition, we are not inclined to extend the time by six months. However, we extend the time by four weeks from tomorrow. It is made clear that no further extension will be granted,” a bench comprising justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan, commented.
This is rather ironical because yesterday the Supreme Court(a different bench) refused to extend the time to surrender in case of Zaibunissa Kazi and four other individuals. These are Kersi Bapuji Adjania, Yusuf Khan, Ranjit Kumar Singh and Altaf Ali Sayed.
Dutt was arrested in 1993, for acquiring three AK-56s rifles, nine magazines, 450 cartridges and over 20 hand grenades. Some of these weapons were later stored at the home of a woman called Zaibunissa Kazi, whose request to extend the time to surrender was refused by the Supreme Court yesterday. The weapons that were stored with Kazi included two of the three AK-56s rifles that Dutt had got. Kazi was convicted underthe Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (or what we better know as TADA). She is now seventy and is suffering from cancer.
The one AK-56 rifle that was left with Dutt was melted at the foundry of Kersi Bapuji Adjania. Adjania is now 83. As per his son “He is over 82 years old, partially deaf and has serious coronary problems. His movement is restricted.”
If Sanjay Dutt can get an extension of one month to surrender why haven’t Adjania and Kazi been given the same as well? Is it because they are not celebrities who don’t have Rs 278 crore riding on them? Like Dutt does. Or the fact that they don’t have the Press Council Chairman and ex Supreme Court judge, Justice Marakandey Katju, batting for them.
In fact the argument that Dutt has Rs 278 crore riding on him and thus deserves an extension does not work at all. In a month’s time he won’t be able to finish all the seven movies anway. Despite that the bigger question is how can losses being faced by a few Hindi film producers come in the way of justice.
In fact, when these producers signed on Dutt to star in their movies they should have been fully aware of the risk that they were taking on. Dutt has been out on a bail for a while now, and a bail can be cancelled at any point of time. When a bail’s cancelled, the individual has to go back to jail. This is a factor that should have been a part of their calculation. If they chose to ignore it, that’s their problem, not the problem of the Republiclic of India.
But his producers continue to remain an unhappy lot. “He is thankful, but he is still under pressure as to how he can finish six months of work in a month,” Rahul Aggarwal, the producer of the upcoming Dutt starrer Policegiri told Reuters. Well, the producers will simply have to wait for Dutt to come out of jail and then complete their movies with him. This was a risk that they took on and are now paying for it.
In fact, some producers have now come around to the idea of waiting for Dutt. Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who were supposed to start the third instalment of the Munna Bhai series with Dutt, said in a statement recently: “Just two days back Sanjay called and said, ‘It’s tough to be in prison but I’m ready to go there because when I come back, I will experience freedom in its true sense. I will be rid of this monkey who has been sitting on my back for the last 20 years and scaring me’. When I walk out of prison, I want to walk straight onto the sets of Munna Bhai.” Dutt is lucky that there are people who are ready to wait for him for three and a half years.
In school this writer was made to by-heart the Preamble to the Constitution of India for the tenth standard exams. A part of the Preamble goes like this:
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
The preamble might vouch for justice and equality but it does help if you happen to be a Sanjay Dutt. To conclude, in life it is important to remember what George Orwell once wrote in the Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Sanjay Dutt is one such unequal animal, who now seems to be above the law of the land.
The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on April 17,2013.
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)