Bollywood industry rallies for sentenced star Sanjay Dutt

"I have already suffered for 20 years and been in jail for 18 months" laments Dutt.

Afp March 22, 2013
"I have already suffered for 20 years and been in jail for 18 months" laments Dutt. PHOTO: IANS/FILE

MUMBAI: Messages of sympathy and solidarity poured in for Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt on Friday after India's top court ordered him to return to jail for buying illegal weapons from Mumbai gangsters.

Several Bollywood stars and film-makers visited the 53-year-old actor's home in suburban Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment capital, to express their support, television channels said.

Dutt was originally sentenced to a six-year term for buying weapons from gangsters accused of carrying out deadly Mumbai bombings in 1993 which left 257 people dead.

He spent 18 months in prison before being released on bail in 2007 pending an appeal, which was struck down by the Supreme Court on Thursday meaning he will have to return to prison.

"I agree with everyone that he (Dutt) has suffered a lot. I believe that he should not be given such a big punishment. He is a changed man now," Indian member of parliament and veteran actress Jaya Bachchan said.

"I'm going to personally appeal to the (state) governor and ask him to pardon him," Bachchan, wife of industry legend Amitabh, told reporters.

India's Oscar and Grammy award winning music composer A.R. Rahman said: "I was shocked on seeing the news. Hope God blesses him and the right thing happens."

Dutt, a one-time heavy drug user who has a reputation as one of Bollywood's bad boys, had admitted buying the weapons but insisted they were only meant to protect his family.

During a police raid investigators uncovered a pistol and an AK-56 rifle which were part of a consignment of weapons and explosives said to have been brought to India from Pakistan and then used in the Mumbai attacks.

The attacks on March 12, 1993, were believed to have been staged by Mumbai's Muslim-dominated underworld in retaliation for anti-Muslim violence that left more than 1,000 dead in the city a few months earlier.

Dutt has four weeks to return to jail to serve the remainder of his term, according to the court decision.

Film analysts said Dutt's return to jail would be a "huge blow" to his career.

Dutt shot to fame in the mid-1980s in a string of action movies in which he performed his own stunts, earning him the nickname "Deadly Dutt".

Bollywood producer-director Karan Johar tweeted on Thursday: "I am truly shattered to hear of Sanju's sentence...the nicest guy I have known doesn't deserve this."

Indian newspaper DNA on its Friday front page said: "Errorist gets five years" while tabloid Mid-day said: "From riches to rags... again".

The actor on Thursday said he was "heartbroken and shattered" after the verdict.

"I have already suffered for 20 years and been in jail for 18 months. If they want me to suffer more I have to be strong," he said.

About 2.5 billion rupees ($45 million) are riding on Dutt in Bollywood, with four or five films in the pipeline, analysts estimate.

"We will have to wait and see how his career shapes after the jail term. Nobody can say what will happen," film critic Taran Adarsh told AFP.


Adil Uddin | 8 years ago | Reply

I am not from India but Sanjay Dutt has suffered enough throughout his life. He lost his mother just a week before his very first movie got released. He lost first wife due to cancer, was not able to spend quality time with his daughter due to quarrelling with his in-laws, his second wife left him, Madhuri Dixit and Tina Munim abandoned him too during his career deserting his heart.

Yes he went into a bad company such as drug addiction and later on friendship with gangsters but who in Bollywood is not associated with something fishy? Dutt possessed illegal weapon but he learnt his lesson when he was in jail during 1990s, He was imprisoned in a cell where terrorists and hardcore criminals are put. And as per him, those days were a worst nightmare of his life.

I remember that once he appeared as a guest on Salman Khan's show Dus Ka Dum where after a question and discussion he asked the audience that do you think that me and Salman are criminals or guilty. And the audience said unanimously that shows that majority of Indians have got a deep love for him and Salman Khan.

gp65 | 8 years ago | Reply

@Max: Glad the Indian celebrities have shown good sense. Indian Court should also show wisdom and consider the 18 months as punishment served. He is indeed a reformed person."

The minimum penalty permissible under the Indian statute is 5 years RI. The order says that the 18 moths he has already spent in prison will be counted towards that and he will have to serve a further 42 months.

When the crime is not contested, how can the sentence be in question when it is the minimum permissible sentence anyway?

I personally am a fan Of Sanjay Dutt and feel sorry for him but the notion that celebrities should get away scot free is wrong. All law breakers need to pay for their crimes. Also the notion about how much money is riding on him being a factor for lesser sentence means that there should be different law for rich and poor. I cannot buy that.

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