By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Accompanied by his wife Maanyata and Mahesh Bhatt, Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt surrendered before the designated TADA court here at 4pm on Thursday. After the usual identification process, the court completed the surrender process to take him into custody.
A big crowd at his residence Imperial Heights at Pali Hill gave the 53-year-old film star a warm send-off before he left for the court. The star waved to the crowd gathered at his residence. His supporters and photographers surrounded him when he reached the court even as police had made strong security arrangements.
As he was taken into custody, special court judge GA Sanap told Sanjay Dutt that he can take his own mattress and pillow, toiletries, fan and mosquito repellent inside the jail. He was also allowed to carry copies of Hanuman Chalisa, the Gita and the Ramayana inside his jail room.
“I am allowing your everything except cigarettes,” the judge ordered.
On March 21, the Supreme Court had upheld Sanjay’s conviction by the TADA court in 2007 under the Arms Act, but reduced his sentence to five years. Since he has already spent one and a half years in jail in 1993-94, Sanjay Dutt will have to spend another three and a half years.
The apex court had also rejected his review petition against the conviction, ordering him to surrender on May 16.
However his lawyer told the TADA court where the film star surrendered, “We are planning to file a curative petition in the apex court soon.”
It was a somber Wednesday evening at Sanjay Dutt’s Pali Hill residence when the actor’s incarceration was just hours away. Sanjay Dutt decided to spend the evening with his wife Maanyata and his twins.
And contrary to reports on Thursday morning there were no dramatic outbursts from Dutt. According to his friends, Dutt was remarkably calm and controlled on the evening before his impending incarceration.
“In fact Baba was providing comfort to Maanyata Bhabha who was acutely tense and inconsolable.”
Close friends dropped in to wish Dutt goodbye promising to be there for his family.
Says a source, “There was not much conversation. No one seemed in the mood to talk. And Baba’s appointment with the prison the next morning was not mentioned at all. It was almost as if the impending catastrophe would somehow go away. Baba had dreaded going back in for 20 years now. He lived with that dread every single day.And now it was finally happening.”
Says a close friend of the troubled star, “Baba’s main concern is Maanyata and the twins. Each time a close friend would drop in his brows would crease and his eyes would well up.He would look heavenwards helplessly.”
Apparently both Ajay and Abhishek have promised to look after Dutt’s family in his absence. And Abhishek, we hear, has agreed to make a guest appearance in Sanjay Dutt Productions’ Hasmukh Pighal Gaya.
Other close friends like Apoorva Lakhia and Bunty Walia decided to stay away from Dutt on his last day of freedom, so he could have some private time with his family.
And for those who are wondering where Dutt’s devoted pal Suniel Shetty, known to stand by his friends through thick and thin, had disappeared, the sad truth is Dutt and Shetty had fall-out some time ago over a guest appearance that Shetty wanted Dutt to make in a film produced by Shetty.
Sad, because at this time in his life Sanjay Dutt needs all the friends he can get.