An Indian biopic out this week charts the troubled life of Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, including his battles with drug addiction and jail time for keeping illegal weapons.
The Hindi-language actor, nicknamed “Deadly Dutt”, served over four years in prison for possessing guns supplied by gangsters behind a series of bombings in Mumbai in 1993, India’s deadliest to date.
“Sanju”, which hits screens on Friday, covers the period from just before Dutt’s Bollywood debut with “Rocky” — nothing to do with the 1976 Sylvester Stallone classic of the same name — in 1981 to his release from jail in 2016.
Director Rajkumar Hirani and co-writer Abhijat Joshi interviewed Dutt, played by Ranbir Kapoor, extensively to try to understand the motivation behind some of his actions.
“I was interested in exploring why he did it,” Hirani told AFP, insisting that the film is not a hagiographical account of the 58-year-old’s life.
“The story is told as seen from our point of view. Let people decide who he was,” he added.
Dutt shot to fame in the mid-1980s in a string of action movies in which he performed his own stunts, earning him the nickname “Deadly Dutt”.
But the star was also struggling with substance abuse, including heroin and cocaine, that is said to have been sparked by the pain of losing his mother, Indian screen icon Nargis Dutt, to cancer.
Dutt took some time out before returning with a string of hits in the late 80s, including “Jeete Hain Shaan Se” and “Kanoon Apna Apna”.
His success at the box office continued into the early 1990s with “Saajan” and “Khal Nayak”.