Sanju Just Fell Into Bad Company: Namrata Dutt’s Interview in 1987
Excerpts from Namrata Dutt’s interview with Society magazine in 1987.
The reclusive Namrata Dutt-Kumar never considered following in the footsteps of her parents, Nargis and Sunil Dutt to join showbiz. “From the beginning, it was clear that we girls won’t,” she recalls.
My father is totally against it, he would never allow us to, and in any case I wasn’t interested. I remember once my mum said, ‘Anju (Namrata), it’s not the way it used to be anymore. There is no dignity and respect left’.
But, Namrata, always an introvert, had to come out of her shell and fill the hole left behind by her mother when she died in 1981. Namrata quickly took over the reins of the Dutt household, especially when her father was grief-stricken. Born two and a half years apart from Sanjay Dutt , Namrata had to step in to take care of her big brother when he “fell into bad company”. In a rare interview with Society in 1987, Namrata remembers how the family dealt with Sanju’s chemical miasma.
With the release of Sanjay Dutt’s Sanju, the actor’s many brushes with the law have come back into focus. We’ve seen seen glimpses of Sanjay Dutt’s drug addiction in the trailer of Sanju.
In her interview with Society, Namrata remembers her futile efforts to try and talk him out of it. “Everyday, I used to try to talk to him but it was no use. He just couldn’t live without them. He would get violent, we would fight, even come to blows”.
One particular night he came home drunk, totally plastered, and this after my mum’s death, was too much for me. I yelled at him, and he yelled back, so I pushed him and he pushed me so hard that I fractured my toe. Oh god, but those were terrible days. I went through hell.
Remembering her childhood moments, Namrata speaks about growing up in the company of Sunil and Nargis Dutt, who were stars for the world, but regular parents for their three children.
“We used to see her (Nargis) films in our Ajanta Theatre, not very many, but I remember seeing Mother India and I sobbed and I sobbed,” said Namrata.
“Dad’s films was a regular feature as were her dad’s absorbing account of their (Ajanta troupe’s) entertainment programmes for jawans,” she continued.
I never accompanied my parents to the borders, I was too young, but Sanju did. He would play the bongos (he was in Sanawar at the time) and they would come back and tell me wonderful tales of what happened.
Namrata’s love story with superstar of his time, Kumar Gaurav is the stuff of dreams. It was certainly ample fodder for magazines and tabloids at the time. When her brother, Sanju was sent to the US for treatment, Namrata knew things were slowly changing for good in their lives.
And just when her career was about to take off, Namrata found love in the form of her brother’s best friend. On falling for Kumar, Namrata says, “He’s a lovely person and I couldn’t help myself”.
But all the while that they were courtying, the thought of what Sanjay Dutt felt about them filled her with “perpetual dread”.
I remember Sanju was in the US for his treatment (during the last lap of her romance) and dad called him up and said when you get back, Anju (Namrata) will be married off to Bunty (Kumar).
“Sanju must have probably missed a few beats but it was too late to protest,” she said.
But things soon turned ugly when Namrata came back home after a little over a year on the pretense of a 40-day visit.
In her interview with Society, she speaks about wanting to do more and be more than a housewife. Even as her in-laws opposed the move.
I am career-minded. I want to earn my own money and I don’t’ think I am asking for too much. You know in the last few years I have gone through hell. I lost a person who was a pivot in my life. I learnt to become a different person, to reach out, to tackle responsibilities, to pick the pieces around me. It wasn’t an easy life. Yet it never broke my spirit. Why? Because I was given freedom, I was allowed to be what I am. I wasn’t caged, restricted or tied down. Also, freedom means license. With the kind of freedom I enjoyed, I could have done anything, but I didn’t do it. Why? Because I value freedom, so I don’t abuse it. I am not made that way.
All the while, she had her husband stick by her side.
“I never actually told him this but I admire him tremendously for being with me. It takes a lot of courage to do this. I do not stop him from going whenever he wants to. After all, if I asked to choose between him and my family, I would feel torn, ripped apart. I wouldn’t do that to him. They are his own people after all”.
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