MUMBAI: Ahead of the honourable Supreme Court’s verdict on Sanjay Dutt’s alleged involvement in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, the film industry has elected to sit on the fence regarding Dutt’s future in Bollywood.
While outwardly everyone maintains an equally cool façade regarding Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan’s ambivalent future vis-à-vis the law, there is actually a world of difference in the attitude of filmmakers to the future projects of the two.
According to a source close to both Dutt and Salman, “Salman’s hit-and-run case doesn’t really bother producers. He continues to sign films and is busy right through 2013. Sanjay Dutt, on the other hand, is not really being approached for any new big projects. His ‘Zilla Ghaziabad’ was nearly complete since the past one year. Soham Shah’s ‘Sher’ stands shelved. The remake of the Tamil hit ‘Sammy’ is 80 percent complete. The remaining 20 percent of the action scenes are now being shot in Chennai and Hyderabad. As for Rensil d’Silva’s ‘Unglee’, Sanjay Dutt’s role has been curtailed to finish his work within a stipulated time frame.”
Says a source, “There were repeated cancellations for ‘Unglee’. And the director was having a tough time doing outdoor shootings in Mumbai with the co-ordinated dates of the rest of the cast – Emraan Hashmi, Randeep Hooda, Arunodoy Singh and Neil Bhoopalan. The dates were getting repeatedly wasted. Rensil had no choice but to modify Dutt Saab’s role according to his availability.”
According to a close friend of Dutt the star is at the moment too tense and anxious about the honourable Supreme Court’s verdict to concentrate on his work.
Says the friend, “Baba fears going back to jail. He can’t take that setback now when he has two little babies to take care of. He has been restless. On Sunday he flew in a friend’s private jet to visit a holy shrine in Nanded. Baba has never believed in visiting temples and religious places. This is probably the first time he’s doing so. He is more anxious this time about the court’s verdict than he was during any other period of his lengthy trial because he knows the mood of the moment among the people, government and judiciary of the land is to not let anyone, specially from the privileged classes, get away with any crime, alleged or proven.”
With the film industry feeling a growing uncertainty about his future Dutt is left with only one new project: the remake of ‘Zanjeer’. Dutt shot a couple of days for the film the film and then the schedule was cancelled.
One has come to know from a reliable source within the ‘Zanjeer’ team that Dutt’s role is “on hold”.
Said the source cryptically, “We love Sanju Sir and want him to play Sher Khan. But if push comes to shove we’re ready to extend Sonu Sood’s role as Sher Khan in the Telugu version of Zanjeer into the Hindi version. There’s a feeling of apprehension about Sanju Sir’s future. I’ve heard producers discussing the possibility of casting him and then discarding the idea saying, ‘Kahin jail chala gaya toh?’ It’s a ruthless world out here. No one wants to risk what happened in 2006 when Sanju Sir went to jail. Films like Sultan Ahmed’s ‘Jai Vikranta’ and Kawal Sharma’s ‘Namak’ had to be shot with a duplicate. We all love Sanju Sir. But we’ve to safeguard our interests.”