It Was Nargis Who Finally Helped Sanjay Dutt Kick the Drug Habit
Sanjay Dutt was the apple of Nargis’ eyes.
Actor Sanjay Dutt’s life has suddenly become the focal point of much renewed interest after the publication of an unauthorised biography - Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy (Juggernaut Books) by Yasser Usman - and the upcoming authorised biopic - Sanju, starring Ranbir Kapoor and directed by Rajkumar Hirani.
While it remains to be seen how authentically Sanju tackles Dutt’s life, Yasser Usman’s book has thrown much light on it, including his relationship with his parents. Sanjay Dutt was a young man of 22 when he lost his mother, the legendary Nargis Dutt to cancer. But what was the troubled actor’s relationship like with his mother? Usman’s book throws some light.
Welcoming “Presley Junior”
After her marriage to Sunil Dutt, Nargis abandoned her superstardom to become a full-time wife and mother. She also immersed herself in social work. And then came Presley Junior (when they were courting, Nargis used to lovingly call Sunil Dutt Elvis Presley), the apple of her eye.
Too Much Love
Sanjay was brought up with unmitigated love by Nargis and by extension, her family with whom the child spent much time. There’s no denying that he grew up to be a spoilt brat.
‘I used to be very naughty in my childhood. It was a difficult task to control me,’ Sanjay says. Nargis would try to put up a hard front. ‘Mom sometimes got angry with Sanjay. She’d spew expletives like suwar, ullu, gadha and even throw a chappal at him,’ said Namrata Dutt, remembering the days when Sanjay and she were young. Eventually, however, Nargis too would melt and give in to Sanjay’s demands.An excerpt from ‘Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy’
Sunil Dutt, worried for Sanjay, decided to send him to boarding school, much against Nargis’ wishes. The experience was traumatic for Sanjay initially and strained his relationship with his father for a long time to come.
Vividly remembering that day years later, Sanjay said, ‘I was so shattered when they left me. [My mother] was absolutely special to me. I cried like hell for days and days. She was equally shattered to have sent me away from home . . . ’An excerpt from ‘Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy’
Dealing With Drugs
Boarding school couldn’t rein in Sanjay, and once back in Mumbai for college, he promptly fell into the clutches of drugs. A naive Nargis simply did not realise the danger and in a manner, blinded herself to the truth. She even lied to Sunil Dutt to cover up for her son.
She trusted Sanjay against the mounting evidence that he was an addict. Even when well-wishers tried to talk to Nargis about Sanjay, her default reply was, ‘My son never drinks and never touches drugs.’8 According to Priya Dutt, Nargis was so firmly in denial that ‘once I heard Mom say to a friend, “Why is Sanjay’s room always locked when his friends are there? What is the big deal? I hope he’s not gay.”’An excerpt from ‘Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy’
Even as she grappled with Sanjay’s drug realities, Nargis was elated about Sanjay Dutt’s upcoming debut as an actor in Rocky. But then cancer struck. Sunil flew her out to the US for treatment. While there, Sunil recorded their conversations where Nargis would talk about life, her children and her dreams for them through illness and immense pain.
After Nargis passed away on 3 May 1981, just days before the release of Rocky, a radar-less Sanjay spiralled down the drug hole. But it was these recorded conversations which would later save his life. Sunil Dutt finally caught up with Sanjay’s addiction and enrolled him into a rehab in the US. But even there, Sanjay was never too far from caving in to temptation. Sunil then sent him the tapes of his last conversations with Nargis.
The voice he was hearing now was different – it was weak, broken and in immense pain. But his mother still spoke of her dreams for her beloved Sanju, and gave him some gentle advice. More than anything, Sanju . . . Keep your humility. Keep your character. Never show off . Always be humble and always respect the elders. Th at is the thing that is going to take you far. And that is going to give you strength in your work . . . Sanjay sat, statue-like, and listened. It was just him and his mother in that room. ‘I heard my mother’s voice . . . advising me and telling me things and how much she loved me and how much she cared about me . . . and how much she expected from me,’ recalled Sanjay. ‘. . . I burst out crying and I cried and cried . . .’An excerpt from ‘Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy’
Finally, it was his beloved mother who managed to pull back Sanjay Dutt from a disastrous drug habit.
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