The Dev Anand Discovery Who Gave It up to Become Mrs Sanjay Dutt
Sanjay Dutt’s own life beats his reel roles by far. Bollywood’s original prince-turned-bad-boy, Sanjay had a privileged upbringing as Sunil and Nargis Dutt’s son. But he displayed a penchant for breaking rules, and as author Yasser Usman puts it, a predilection to have a “good time” by any means.
In in his biography of the actor, Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy, Usman traces the actor’s ups and downs in life - his coming to terms to his mother’s untimely death, his many romances, substance abuse and of course, his role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts and consequent incarceration. As we said, it’s a life fit for the celluloid.
Here’s an excerpt from Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy, in which Usman traces Sanjay’s romance and marriage to Richa Sharma, who had come to Mumbai with Bollywood dreams.
One evening in 1984, Richa got a long-distance call from India. It was Dev Anand on the line, shouting excitedly, ‘I’ve a role for you. Are you still interested?’ This was a dream come true for Richa, and soon she was in Mumbai. The film was Hum Naujawan (1985) and Richa was sold as Dev Anand’s newest discovery; other notable ones being Zeenat Aman and Tina Munim.
Instantly, she was being offered roles opposite young actors like Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff , Shekhar Suman and Sanjay Dutt. Sanjay recalled how enamoured he was by Richa at their first meeting in 1985.
The meetings continued and romance bloomed. Sanjay was always euphoric at the beginning of a new relationship. High hopes and expectations were attached to each of them but his relationships inevitably seemed to fizzle out as soon as they had started. But with Richa he was hoping for a future together:
Though Sanjay knew Richa had left her parents in New York to pursue a career in Hindi films, as always he wanted ‘his woman’ to quit her job for him.
He was truly his father’s son in this respect. Sanjay was in a tearing hurry to tie the knot with Richa. He flew to New York to meet her parents and expressed his desire to marry her. According to Sanjay, ‘Her family had a great deal of concern . . . especially about me, with my wild and unbridled reputation. But at my first meeting with her dad, we were talking to each other heart-to-heart, and he understood me.’ With her parents on board, Richa, the girl from New York, decided to sacrifice her ambitions for Sanjay.
The twenty-eight-year-old Sanjay married the twentyfour-year-old Richa Sharma at a ceremony in New York in October 1987. Many close family friends from India attended the wedding. Sanjay was decked up as a traditional Punjabi dulha. He wore a white sherwani and a pagdi (turban). A photograph of Nargis was kept next to Sanjay through the ceremony. The Dutt family was over the moon. Sanjay had been through a lot and Sunil felt comforted that his son’s life would be more settled now. He was very fond of Richa and was delighted to welcome her into the family.
Sanjay’s post-wedding life was bliss.
Soon enough Richa was pregnant and Sanjay was ecstatic at the thought of fatherhood. On 10 August 1988, Sanjay and Richa were blessed with a daughter, whom they named Trishala. Life seemed beautiful.
Baby Trishala was four months old when Richa began getting severe headaches. At first no one took them seriously. Then some time later, when the couple was on a casual visit to Delhi, Richa was feeling unwell and decided to go for a check-up. Sanjay had to return to Mumbai for work. He was at Delhi airport waiting for his flight when he heard an announcement: ‘Mr Sanjay Dutt to come near a phone.’ ‘I didn’t understand why. It was a call from the doctor asking me to cancel my flight and come immediately to the clinic,’ Sanjay recalled. The doctors refused to divulge any more information on the phone. Sanjay rushed to the clinic and found Richa in the MRI room.
(Published with permission from Juggernaut Books; Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy by Yasser Usman; Rs 499.)