Actor Sanjay Dutt released from prison
MUMBAI – Sanjay Dutt, one of Bollywood’s biggest stars, walked out of prison on Thursday morning after serving the remainder of a five-year sentence for acquiring illegal guns from the men convicted for the 1993 Mumbai bombings.
Dutt, clutching a file and a duffel bag, turned and raised his arm in a salute before walking through the gate of Yerwada prison near Pune, around 200 km from Mumbai, television channel Times Now showed.
The actor took a chartered flight to Mumbai and was expected to visit a city temple and his mother’s grave before heading home, according to local media reports.
Best known for his role in the “Munnabhai” films, Dutt’s persona of a bumbling but well-intentioned gangster has spilled into his personal life. Often called “baba” (a term of endearment for children), Dutt is likely to accepted with open arms by the Indian film industry.
“I am very proud of Sanjay for being in jail for so many years and staying in with dignity. He worked out every day for hours with old buckets full of water and looks much fitter than he was before his jail term,” producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra told Reuters.
“It’s very rare not to lose hope in a dark cell. I am certain nothing can stop him now.”
In 2007, Dutt was cleared of conspiracy charges in the Mumbai serial blasts but was found guilty of illegal possession of an AK-56 rifle and a pistol, which he claimed he required to protect his family during a period of rioting in the city.
The actor spent 18 months in prison, but was released on bail. In 2013, the Supreme Court ordered him back to jail for the remaining 42 months of his sentence.
Twelve people were sentenced to death at the end of the trial. India says the main perpetrators of the attacks, which killed more than 250 people, are still in Pakistan.
Dutt finished his term eight months before time and was being released early for “good behaviour.” Between May 2013 and 2014, Dutt is estimated to have spent more than 100 days out of jail, but authorities have denied the actor was given special treatment.
One of Bollywood’s leading men through the 80’s and 90’s, Dutt is the son of actor-politician Sunil Dutt and his wife Nargis. His career has been marred by jail terms, drug addiction and failed marriages, but throughout it all, he has found roles in Bollywood films.
The 56-year-old may not get those leading roles anymore, but he is sure to find work.
“He will definitely get the kind of roles that a Anil Kapoor or a Rishi Kapoor are doing now. Also, his name still carries some weight, and will enhance the star value of a film, so producers will be keen to sign him on,” trade analyst Amod Mehra said. “Bollywood is always willing to forgive. He has done his time, and his past will not affect his ability to find work.”
As of now, Dutt hasn’t announced any projects, but he is the subject of a biopic by Rajkumar Hirani, who directed him in the “Munnabhai” films. Hirani, who was among those who received Dutt outside the prison today, told Reuters earlier this year that filming for the Dutt biopic would start sometime this year.
Media reports said actor Ranbir Kapoor would be playing Dutt’s role in the film. –Reuters