“My first memory of Sanjay Dutt is of the day his cousin, a good friend of mine, introduced us. He was this bulky boy claiming to like outdoor sports. I really did not expect him to be able to rough it out. From then on, I have never believed in first impressions!” So said Yusuf Nulwallah, a dear friend of Sanjay Dutt’s. When a man is spoken about, as much as Baba is, it is best to get your facts from close friends.
“Sanjay is a complete man in more ways than one,” says brother-in-law, Kumar Gaurav. The two started their careers together and have come a long way since. “While the press constantly tried to pitch the two of us against each other, we were always the best of friends. As kids, we would go to each other’s houses for birthdays etc; but it was only after we both got into the industry that we became real good friends. We’re always in the same situation. With the pressure to perform and most of our directors being our fathers’ age, we had no one but each other.” That’s Sanjay Dutt for us, embracing his competitor, but hadn’t we heard of him objecting to Kumar marrying his sister, Namrata? “I guess it was just the possessive older brother that took over him momentarily. Surprisingly, he never came up to me and expressed his discomfort; I heard about it from my father-in-law!”
Though Sanju’s friends claim he hates confrontations, there were some he couldn’t escape, at least those in the face of adversity. That’s where his friends experienced the true grit that is Dutt. “When I saw him being taken away, I couldn’t imagine a man of his stature being cramped up in a police vehicle. Everything seemed to have halted. All he said was ‘Be brave, I will be fine!’” his friend, Ajay of Colossal Entertainment and Baba’s gym buddy, reminisced with teary eyes. “I remember the day he came out and we came together in the gym after almost a year. For the first time in so many days we took the weights in our hands, which had become weak during the year that went by. There was a picture in the gym of all of us working out, but that day we didn’t look the same. Something had changed forever - we all hoped it was for the best.”
Trials and tribulations have always been a part of Sanjay Dutt’s life. His friends have seen it all and loved him for his spirit of survival. Today, he has survived broken marriages, overcome his addiction and a nightmare that had dogged him for years. He stands a new man, with his wife and children smiling broadly in a complete family portrait. “I always knew that once he learns to accept that glamour in a marriage is short-lived and realises that it is companionship that helps a couple sail through their life, he would be a happy man! Else one is susceptible to the whims of a dreamy marriage where you give your loved ones all the gifts they dream of, even before they can ask for it, and hope that is enough for a happy married life,” said Kumar Gaurav. With Manyata and the twins, Shahraan and Iqra, he would never again be a lonely man, but even they can’t keep him away from his ‘bros’ because some men are meant to be boys!