Today June 6 is the fourteenth death anniversary of my dear actor cum politician friend Sunil Dutt who would have celebrated his 92nd birth anniversary today had he not passed away on May 25 way back in the year 2004.
To commemorate his birth anniversary, JYOTHI VENKATESH who knew him very closely pencils in his thoughts about the great filmmaker cum actor.
I miss Dutt Saab’s presence today amidst us because there is hardly any star today who can come anywhere near his caliber and generosity.
Though he was quite senior to me, we used to meet once in a blue moon. In fact, once when he asked me to meet him at his bungalow for an interview and I asked him if I could meet on a Sunday instead of the next day as it was a working day for me at the hotel and I would not be given a day off by my boss Mr R.K Choudhary, it was he who very strictly told me when I was working with Hotel Oberoi Sheraton as an Accounts Supervisor that if I wanted to pursue freelance journalism, it was necessary that I should quit my job and concentrate on journalism full time because sailing in two boats would not be conducive to me. Sunil Dutt was always active before the camera.
The day I visited him, he had just returned from the Air Conditioned Seth Studios at Andheri where he was shooting for Raj Kumar Kohli’s Raj Tilak.
Apart from Raj Tilak, Sunil Dutt has also starred in Raj Kumar Kohli’s Badle Ki Aag. Sunil Dutt made it clear to me that he isn’t interested in switching over to character roles. “As an actor, I have played different kinds of roles.
I have never had hang ups about acting in any film in any kind of role, other than that of characters.
The reason that I have decided not to do any inane character roles is that I want to retain the image which I had when my wife left me.”
Sunil Dutt admitted that an entirely new second generation has grown up now during the past one decade or two or so which is interested in seeing those dynamic roles which he had done in the past like the ones in Yadein, Khandan, Milan, Reshma Aur Shera and Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke.
“I am planning to revive my old films and release them after re- editing them to catch up with the new trends.
Today the audience’s taste has changed for the better. I do not want to test their patience by releasing my old films as they were in their original formats.”
“Today the younger generation is exposed to world cinema. The media is there unlike in the past when radio was the only medium of communication.
Today teenagers see films on their video sets as well TV sets. They are aware of what is meant by close up and zoom lens and flash back.
They grasp anything rapidly because the IQ of today’s youngsters is more than that of the yester year generation and the filmmakers have the added responsibility of catering to their tastes by taking rapid strides in the field.
“In the kind of frame my mind was in during the past one year or so, I couldn’t take time off to see some of the films we had made in our country.
Though I have not seen films like Ek Duuje Ke Liye and Chashme Buddoor, I have heard a lot about these films.
In fact, my own children Priya and Namrata have also raved about these films. In order to know these trends in the industry today, I guess I’ll have to see some of the outstanding films made by our directors today.”
Though Sunil Dutt didn’t admit it, one guesses that he was keen on establishing his banner by making meaningful films which are artistic and at the same time made with an eye on the box office, because as he puts it, “films should be viable commercially if the producer as to survive in his field”.
He knew that youngsters had already invaded the scene and his own son Sanjay Dutt had been welcomed by the industry, and Sunil Dutt was planning to concentrate less on acting and more on direction.
Filmmaking has always been in his blood as has been proved by the fact that ahead of his time he had made masterpieces like Yadein, Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke and Reshma Aur Shera.
Sunil Dutt was also contemplating upon giving a break to other newcomers as well, like he has always done in the past.
Who can forget the fact that it was Sunil Dutt who had introduced Vinod Khanna, Leena Chandavarkar, Ranjeet, Shakti Kapoor and many others to the screen?
Though in Rocky he had introduced a new male face-his own son Sanjay, in his next venture, he was planning to give a break to a new actress.
Sunil Duttsaab had told me that he will be introducing a newcomer called Swapna, a model turned actress from the South, who was a popular actress on the Tamil and Malayalam screen with heroes like Kamal Haasan and Rajinikant.
If she is finalized for the film, she may breeze in on the Hindi screen as a Sunil Dutt discovery and pose a serious threat then to Rati Agnihotri, another model turned star from South, who has gone places with the release of Ek Duuje Ke Liye, which is turn was the remake of the Telugu original Maro Charitra, also directed by K. Balachander.
Unfortunately, he did not live to launch Sapna as an actress in Mumbai. I miss Dutt Saab badly.
I remember when he was the Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, when I told him that I would be covering, as a freelancer the International Film Festival in Goa, when the venue was shifted from New Delhi to Goa, he fondly asked me where I would stay and who would foot the bill for my stay.
When I said no one was footing my bill because I was a freelancer, and asked him to suggest a cheap venue, he offered to write a letter to the In Charge of the Youth Hostel in Goa where I could pay just Rs 100 per day for 10 days and cover the festival.
Is there any maai ka laal star, who would today go out of his way to accommodate a freelance journalist?
Jaane Kahan Gaye Woh Din? Three cheers to my late friend Barkhurdar Sunil Dutt Saab.