Sanjay Dutt, fondly called Sanju or Sanju Baba, or just Baba, needs no introduction. Ever since his debut in 1981 (with Rocky), the son of veteran actors Sunil Dutt and Nargis has been one of Bollywood’s most popular and mainstream actors. Sure, he has seen his share of controversies but those have never marred his popularity. Those who know Sanjay personally describe him as humble, honest, soft-hearted and an excellent human being. We believe it all.
As this versatile actor and trendsetter (he was the first to sport 8-pack abs and long locks) turns 56, BC looks at six films that proved to be major turning points in Sanjay’s career.
After a much-publicised battle with drugs and a series of flops, Naam proved to be a milestone film for Sanjay. It was one of the highest grossing films of the 1980s and successfully ran for over a year at most of India’s cinemas. Not only did it give the actor a new lease in Bollywood, it established his position as one of the most versatile and emotive actors of those times.
Sadak again came after a string of flops and was an instant blockbuster. It is the seventh highest grossing film of the 1990s and once again proved that Dutt is capable of being a film’s sole hero while displaying a range of emotions. If you’re going to watch one Sanjay Dutt film today, let it be Sadak.
Saajan came at a time when Bollywood was largely dominated by action heroes. Did Lawrence D’Souza take a risk? Possibly, but we’re glad he did! And Sanjay as the soft-spoken, self-sacrificing Aman? Total love! This was the highest grossing film of 1991.
Thanks to Subhash Ghai, we got to see Sanjay in a role that was absolutely different from anything that we had ever seen him play before. Who would’ve thought he could make such an amazing bad guy? With Khalnayak, Sanjay silenced all his critics for good. Again, one of the highest grossing films of the 90s.
Late 90s was a difficult time for Sanju Baba. He was involved in a major legal controversy that affected his otherwise great career. The actor was never out of work but nothing was bringing him the success that he tasted before 1993. It was then that Mahesh Manjrekar’s Vaastav happened and Sanjay was right back to being one of Bollywood’s most prominent actors and someone capable of carrying a film alone. We saw traces of Khalnayak here and Sanju took home the Filmfare Best Actor Award that year.
Munna Bhai MBBS
One of the most popular and endearing characters played by Sanjay is Munna in Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. This is one of Raj kumar Hirani’s most memorable masterpieces and put Baba in the league of top actors of the early 2000s (despite the others being much younger). That year, the actor was conferred with the Filmfare Best Comedian Award.