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Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor steps into the troubled actor Sanjay Dutt’s shoes in the biopic Sanju.

Directed by Rajkumar Hirani, the makers claim it’s going to chronicle Dutt’s checkered life and his multiple run-ins with the law, including serving time in prison.

The adage, ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ bodes well with Dutt’s life, which went through tumultuous twists and turns, including his drug-addled phase and his trysts with multiple women.

As Kapoor brings his eventful life to the big screen on June 29 in the UAE, here are a few milestones we will see the younger actor portray on screen that were defining for Bollywood’s original bad boy Sanjay Dutt.

Stepping into the world of Bollywood

When you are born to distinguished actors such as Sunil Dutt and Nargis, a career in films is a natural progression. He appeared as a child actor in 1972 film Reshma Aur Shera. But he made his spectacular splash as an adult in the 1981 film Rocky, which Kapoor brings to the screen in this first defining phase.

While Rocky made ripples, the following years weren’t easy for Dutt. But the turning point for the actor came in the lat ’80s when he starred in films such as Naam, Jaan Ki Baazi and Taaqatwar.

In Naam, he played an illegal immigrant who enters the world of crime. His career was on an upward climb as he featured in films such as Gumraah and Sahibaan.

But it was Sadak, Saajan and Khalnayak that made him a bona fide star. Dutt wasn’t able to enjoy the fruits of his labour, because his career was abruptly severed when he was arrested for his involvement in the 1993 bombings.

For half a decade, he was involved in a legal wrangle that decelerated his career drastically.

His first release after his 1993 arrest was Daud, directed by Ram Gopal Verma. It was a flop, but films such as Vaastav and the Indian National Award-winning Munnabhai series re-instated his position in Bollywood again.

Brush with drugs and alcohol

Kapoor’s look changes again as he enters the phase of Dutt’s life in the ’80s, which was the searing portrait of privilege, power and wealth destroying a life.

“There are no drugs in the world that I have not done. When my father took me to America [for rehab], they gave me a list and I ticked every drug on it, because I had taken all of them. The doctor told my dad, ‘What kind of food do you eat in India? Going by the drugs he did, he should be dead by now!’,” Dutt was quoted as saying at a panel discussion published in The Times of India.

Dutt also began drinking furiously, he claims. His life became a dangerous cocktail of drugs, alcohol and women.

“Substance abuse is something that you do if you want to do it. Once you get into it, it’s very difficult to leave. It is the worst thing in the world. My journey with substance abuse has been about 12 years,” he added.

The women in his life

In the Sanju trailer, Kapoor states his conquests included 308 girlfriends. Some were legendary, with rumours stating the actor allegedly dated his co-stars Madhuri Dixit and Tina Munim. According to director Rajkumar Hirani, Dutt even took his potential girlfriends to a random grave to establish emotional connect with them. But he slowed down in 1987 when he married Richa Sharma, who died of a brain tumour in 1996.

His second marriage was to model Rhea Pillai in 1998, but they divorced in 2005. Currently, he is married to Manyata and is a father to twins Shahraan and Iqra, and daughter Trishala from his first marriage to Sharma. Safe to say, he has slowed down considerably in the last few years and seems happily married to Manyata.

The prison years

Dutt, who was sentenced for firearms offences linked to the 1993 Mumbai blasts which killed 257 people and injured 713, was lodged in Yerwada Jail to serve his five-year sentence. It was widely reported that he learnt how to make paper bags and did some work as a radio jockey during his prison term.

Kapoor has stated in several media interviews that it was perhaps the hardest phase to imitate on screen.


Don’t miss it!

Sanju releases in the UAE on June 29.