The very best of Sanjay Dutt
Sanjay Dutt turns 50 on July 29, and his has been a long and chequered story, replete with high drama.
The son of Sunil and Nargis Dutt, Sanju came into the industry with much fanfare with Rocky, has seen well more than his fair share of scandal and controversy, and despite all odds still connects with the people.
Here's a look at ten highlights from Sanjay's very varied filmography:
Sanjay's second film was with director Subhash Ghai, and pitted him alongside stellar thespians Dilip Kumar, Shammi Kapoor and Sanjeev Kapoor. He plays a young man driven to revenge in a very melodramatic saga, but manages to establish himself well enough amongst a very experienced cast.
Image: A scene from Rocky
Mahesh Bhatt's Naam was yet another film pitting Dutt alongside strong actors, but this time it was his aunt Nutan he had to share screen space with.
The film is about Indians settling abroad, and Dutt does commendably, for the first time really showing his strengths as an actor.
Image: A scene from Naam
Possibly Dutt's most enduring romance, this Lawrence D'Souza film starred him and Salman Khan competing for the affections of Madhuri Dixit.
Cast against his action-hero type, Sanju plays a shy, handicapped poet -- and does significantly well in the part.
Image: A scene from Saajan
7. Haseena Maan Jaayegi
It isn't easy for any actor to be pitted against an in-form Govinda (who effortlessly chewed Amitabh Bachchan up in Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan) in a comedy, but Sanju showed terrific comic timing in this David Dhawan film.
Farce is hard, and even harder when the actors are making up the laughs instead of the script.
Image: A scene from Haseena Maan Jaayegi
6. Mission Kashmir
Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Kashmir film had its share of flaws -- and more than its share of jingoism -- but Sanjay Dutt was excellent in his role as a grizzled cop.
One scene in particular stands out, where he gets home after a truly horrible day, washes his face and bursts into song to charm his wife and shield her from the truth.
Image: A scene from Mission Kashmir
Dutt plays a taxi driver in this highly acclaimed Mahesh Bhatt film also starring Sadashiv Amrapurkar and Pooja Bhatt. Amrapurkar had the author-backed role as a villainous eunuch and did very well, but it was Dutt who firmly anchored the film in place and kept it real.
Image: A scene from Sadak
The film might be best known for a song about a blouse, but Sanjay Dutt was also in crackling form in Subhash Ghai's blockbuster, playing a truly menacing villain laced with enough edge to stay authentically unpredictable.
A very impressive performance by an actor wonderfully sure of himself.
Image: A scene from Khalnayak
Dutt took the bad boy act to a whole different level in Mahesh Manjrekar's gripping saga of a naive young snack-seller going on to become one of Mumbai's most feared dons.
It's a tricky character graph but Dutt goes from wide-eyed innocence to cold-blooded crimelordgiri with extreme alacrity, to find redemption at the end. Bravo.
Image: A scene from Vaastav
2. Munna Bhai MBBS
Sanjay Dutt rediscovered himself in this Rajkumar Hirani classic as he played a lovable gangster who wanted to become a doctor.
There are missteps along the way as he lapses hilariously into brute force, and in the end it takes a truly powerful performance to sell us magical hugs and make it work oh so well.
Image: A scene from Munna Bhai MBBS
1. Lage Raho Munna Bhai
Hirani and his entire team topped themselves in this fantastic sequel, and while encomiums were mostly reserved for Arshad Warsi's portrayal of Circuit, the fact remains that Dutt held the emotional core of the film -- the truly tough part in a film where you're already laughing gleefully.
A scene where he tells Circuit about his father's death is made all the more poignant by Sunil Sr's recent real life passing, and the fact that it was he who played Munna's father in the original film, and by the time Sanjay finishes making up with Arshad, it's hard to keep your eye dry.
A remarkable performance in a remarkable film. Kudos, Sanjay.
Image: A scene from Lage Raho Munna Bhai