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)
Subhash Ghai’s Khalnayak with Sanjay Dutt in the lead role released on June 15, 1993. This was around two months after Dutt was first arrested on April 19, 1993, for his involvement in the Bombay bomb blasts which happened on March 12, 1993 (Bombay is now Mumbai). The story goes that Ghai had shot multiple ends for the movie, and after Dutt’s arrest he used the one which showed Ballu, the character played by Dutt, in a positive light.
That’s the thing with reel life, if the director does not like the end, he can change it. Real life should work a little differently, that’s what you and I might think. But it doesn’t always work like that. At least, not if you are Sanjay Dutt.
On March 21, 2013, the Supreme Court of India, convicted Dutt for illegal possession of arms and sentenced him to five years in prison. Between then and now a small cottage industry seems to have evolved which is trying to tell the world that Dutt is innocent and is trying to change the end of a long judicial process which has finally delivered some justice.
This cottage industry includes those working with him in the Hindi film industry. They cannot believe that Sanju Sir, as they like to call him, will have to go to jail. Rakhi Sawant, who is largely famous for what the Hindi film industry refers to as item numbers, has even volunteered to go to jail instead of Dutt. “If there is any provision in the law, then I’d like to request the court to send me to jail in place of Sanjay. Not because he is a big actor today, but because he has a family and kids at home to take care of,” she has remarked.
Support has also come in from Marakandey Katju, Chairman of the Press Council of India, who on other occasions has spoken out strongly against media’s obsession with celebrities. Katju is also a former judge of Supreme Court. He wants Sanjay Dutt to be pardoned.
He has offered various reasons for the same. In the last twenty years Dutt has suffered a lot. He had to take the permission of the Court for foreign shootings. He has two small children. And to top it Dutt has through his film revived the memory of Mahatma Gandhi and the message of Gandhiji, the father of the nation. Justice Katju in his appeal to grant pardon to Dutt had also said that “his parents Sunil Dutt and Nargis worked for the good of society and the nation.”
Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh has jumped into the rescue Sanjay Dutt bandwagon as well. “Sanjay Dutt is not a criminal, he is not a terrorist. Sanjay Dutt, at a young age, in the atmosphere of that time, thought that perhaps the way Sunil Dutt had been raising his voice against communalism and favoured the minorities, then perhaps he could be attacked. So, as an obvious reaction of a kid to do something, if he has committed a mistake then I feel that he has undergone the punishment for it,” Singh said.
Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal, who normally goes cholbe na cholbe na against everything, has also come out in support of Dutt. “Today, I fondly remember Sunil Dutt ji. He used to come to my residence whenever he was in Calcutta. If he were alive, he would have no doubt made all efforts to see that Sanjay does not suffer any more. My heart echoes the same sentiments ,” the Trinamool Congress chief wrote on Facebook, getting nostalgic.
Let me demolish this arguments one by one. In 1993, Sanjay Dutt was 33, going on 34. He was no kid, as Digvijay Singh makes him out to be. On the other hand Ajmal Kasab, who was recently hanged to death, was actually a kid, when he carried out the gruesome act that he did.
In the last twenty years Dutt has suffered a lot, feels Katju. But so has everyone else who was accused in the Mumbai bomb blasts case. Yusuf Memon, one of the accused, who will serving a life sentence, is schizophrenic and the Supreme Court dismissed his plea seeking relief from his conviction and life sentence.
During the last twenty years Dutt managed to marry twice (Rhea Pillai and now Manyata earlier known as Dilnawaz Sheikh ). So much for him suffering. And as far as kids go, if people were pardoned because they had kids, nobody in India would ever go to jail.
The movies Katju is talking about are Munnabhai MBBS and Lageraho Munnabhai. Dutt did not make these movies, he just acted in them. The movies were the vision of director Rajkumar Hirani, who also co-wrote them. In fact, Dutt was not even supposed to play the role of Munnabhai in Munnabhai MBBS. The original choice was Shah Rukh Khan, who later declined due to a back injury. So Sanjay Dutt was simply lucky to have first landed and then played the role which made Gandhi fashionable again. And that is no reason to let him go.
Digivijay Singh in his statement seems to be justifying Sanjay Dutt possessing illegal weapons for self defence. What he forgets is that we are not talking about some desi katta or a revolver here. We are talking about AK-56 rifles. Its worth remembering that the year was 1993 and not 2013. “And AKs were not weapons you almost ever saw outside some militant districts in Punjab and Kashmir,” writes Shekhar Gupta in a column in The Indian Express.
And as far as the nostalgia of Mamata Banerjee goes there are people who might still feel nostalgic about the late Head Constable Ibrahim Kaskar of Mumbai police. As S Hussain Zaidi writes in Dongri to Dubai – Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia “In the predominantly Muslim stronghold of Dongri, Ibrahim’s baithak was the first place people went to if they had a problem. It was privy to everything-from people discussing their choking lavatory drain to the excitement of the elopement of lovers or cases of police harassment.” Kaskar’s son is Dawood Ibrahim. So should sons committing crimes be let go because their fathers happened to be nice men? Maybe Justice Katju and Mamata Banerjee can give us an answer to that.
In fact, it would be safe to say that Sanjay Dutt was very lucky not be convicted under the the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (or what we better know as TADA). Dutt was arrested in 1993, for acquiring three AK-56s rifles, nine magazines, 450 cartridges and over 20 hand grenades. One doesn’t need so many weapons and ammunitions for self defence. This despite the fact that Dutt already had three licensed weapons. And when was the last time you heard anyone keeping hand grenades at home for self protection?
Some of these weapons were later stored at the home of a woman called Zaibunissa Kazi. This included two of the three AK-56s rifles that Dutt had got. Kazi was convicted under TADA. Same was the case with Baba Mussa Chauhan and Samir Hingora, who delivered the consignment of arms to Dutt’s house. And so was Manzoor Ahmed, whose car was used to ferry the arms out of Dutt’s residence.
But the special TADA court did not convict Dutt under TADA. This is very ironical given that those who got the arms to Dutt’s house were convicted under TADA. So was the women in whose house the arms were placed, after they were moved from Dutt’s house. He had also admitted to being directly in touch with Anees Ibrahim, the main conspirator Dawood Ibrahim’s younger brother. Further, CBI did not challenge the TADA court’s decision which relieved Dutt of charges under TADA, in the Supreme Court.
In fact Satish Manishinde, Dutt’s lawyer later admitted in front of a spy camera in a sting operation carried out by Tehehlka that “The moment she (Zaibunissa Kazi) was convicted, I thought Sanjay too would be convicted under TADA .” No wonder Kazi’s daughter feels “I wish I was a celebrity or my mother was a celebrity or a sister of an MP. Even my mother would have got the kind of support Sanjay Dutt is getting. If it is on humanitarian grounds then why only Sanjay Dutt, why not Zaibunisa. Isn’t she a human? Isn’t she a citizen of this country?”
As a line from the song Yaaram written by Gulzar, from the still to be released Ek Thi Daayan goes “koi khabar aayi na pasand to end badal denge”. Everyone who is trying to appeal for a pardon for Sanjay Dutt is trying to change the end of a long judicial process which has finally delivered some justice.
To conclude, let me say this loudly and emphatically, if Sanjay Dutt is innocent, then I am Amitabh Bachchan.
The article also appeared with a different headline on www.firstpost.com on March 29,2013.
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek. He can be reached at [email protected])