‘Munnabhai’ is on a mission. A self-confessed former addict, Sanjay Dutt knows firsthand what it’s like to be ‘unwell’, as he describes it, and now wants to wean kids and young people off drugs. “I want them to be high on life, to study and work hard instead of doing drugs. I’ve spoken about this earlier… It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Things did not materialise then because my own case was on and my plate was full. But now that the pressure is off, I really want to do something for the future of our country and I’ll go to the highest level, present my proposal to the Prime Minister, and work with the government on this because you need proper facilities and proper counselling. It’s a three-pronged process -create awareness, instill in the addicts a willingness to clean up and then rehabilitate them,” the actor says knowledgeably, having battled with his own dependency for almost a decade.
Quiz him on who got him hooked and he points out that nobody gets anybody hooked, it’s your will and your wish. “Yes, you can be introduced to drugs by somebody, but then you stay on because it’s cool and you want to be on the scene and one out of every 10 crosses the line of control. I was one of those unlucky ones,” he sighs, remembering those years when he would hide away from people, in the bathroom experimenting with every drug available, suddenly alone unless he was in a group with others shooting up with him.
During his tenure in jail, Sanjay admits to seeing several addicts caught for committing some crime and put behind bars. “I’d see them go through the pain of withdrawal with no one around to help them. It was a sad situation,” he says. Recalling his own days in hell, he admits he suffered and his family suffered with him. “I was among the lucky few who could be sent out of the country to a rehab centre in the US but how many families can afford that? So, we should have facilities for them here and I’d like to go out there and talk to these girls and boys, rich and poor. Maybe I can be an inspiration, because if I could get out of it, anybody can,” he asserts.
Sanjay goes on to add that he will scout around to see if there is some NGO he can tie up with, otherwise he will set something up on his own. The initiative is like a salute to his father, the late Sunil Dutt, who stood by him through every storm, ensuring that he came out of rehab cured. “Everything I do is a tribute to my mom (Nargis) and dad and I do it with their blessings,” says the 57-year-old actor who started shooting for his comeback film in Agra from February 15.
Just before he goes for a shot, you wonder how he’s feeling and he says quietly, “Different. For 25 years I worked under stress, now finally the pressure is off my head and thank God for that. It’s beautiful!” He’s always been a spontaneous actor but was it easy facing the camera again? “It was weird for around 20 minutes to half an hour since I hadn’t acted in five years. But then it was fine, it’s easy,” he says nonchalantly.
And how is watching Ranbir Kapoor transform into Sanjay Dutt in front of his eyes? “It feels good to see Ranbir and know that a biopic is being made on me. I think it’s been an interesting life,” he smiles. And will the film touch on his drugs phase as well? “You’ll have to ask Raju (director Rajkumar Hirani) that but I think it will,” he signs off.