May 28, 2020
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Once Is Not Enough

Sanju Baba is just a lost boy at 42 who has a soft corner for Muslims

Once Is Not Enough
Once Is Not Enough
There are tall men in this world with eyeballs that look up, who have never doped, never spoken to Chhota Shakeel, never touched liquor, never visited the dying first wife with the newest girlfriend, never run away from life, but have never been loved by a woman. It has to be a queer life, for Sanjay Dutt is theoretically everything that could go wrong in a man but there were always women who loved him. Those who know him well say there is something about him that is terribly endearing. Except for the few whom the brawny star has bashed up in his tumultuous life, the world loves him. Possibly because he's a boy who never grew up. "He is like a child," says Jackie Shroff. "Loads of pressure in his life. Mom passing away, drug problems, lung collapse, wife Richa passing away, TADA. But he's always smiling on the sets. You see him drift away in his thoughts sometimes but then he is back in a flicker."

Dutt is really a 42-year-old boy with a penchant for fast cars and Harley Davidsons and a perennial lump in his throat. As a young man, he found relief in cocaine and brown sugar. It was around that time that Dr Yusuf Merchant met him. He describes Dutt as "a wonderful human being" and an "addictive personality", in that order. Those days Dutt wanted to become a drummer but life took him down different lanes of fame and infamy. The reason why almost everybody who's known him for long thinks of him so fondly is that he was a man who could have 'cutting' chai with anyone. It must have been a glorious moment for many backbenchers of life when the son of Sunil Dutt and Nargis spoke to them as an equal. Some feel that it is his free association with the lowest rung of the film world that first made him an easy prey to the underworld. Interestingly, while he has spoken warmly with Shakeel, he has also acted in films said to be backed by the rival Abu Salem. Dutt mysteriously flitted about in the different camps of the Bollywood underbelly without any qualms.

There are people who loathe him for his shady side. Filmmaker Ashok Pandit says, "If he's talking to Shakeel in this manner, there is no difference between him and a terrorist. If he is friends with men who bombed Mumbai, then he's an anti-national and an enemy of the country." Extreme words that for a moment balance out the seemingly undeserving love that he gets from all quarters. A producer has a quaint observation. "For some reason, he always felt he was a Muslim. I think he had a soft corner for Muslims." But nobody fully understands why the 6 ft 1, 80-films-old Dutt keeps going astray even when things are looking up. An inscrutable mind that a CBI official describes as "criminal".

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