Sanjay Dutt was released from prison in 2016 after nearly three years in incarceration for an arms case stemming from the 1993 blasts.
New Delhi: Prisons are not an easy place for anyone, least of all the rich and famous accustomed to living the good life.
The jail sentence given to Bollywood star Salman Khan for poaching isn’t his first — he has done time before, for three days, for the 2002 hit-and-run. But at five years, it might prove his longest.
For advice on how to get by, Salman can turn to frequent co-star and close friend Sanjay Dutt, who was released from prison in February 2016 after nearly three years in incarceration for an arms case stemming from the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai.
Speaking to ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta at Off The Cuff, Dutt had talked at length about his life in prison.
Not exactly an easy time
“Two months were traumatic for me inside jail, very, very traumatic,” he said.
Dutt talked about how he had to cook his own meals and “strike deals” to purchase cooking items that cost him an exorbitant amount of money. “One bottle of kerosene oil was for Rs 2,000,” he added.
Dutt also recalled the time “billions” of houseflies laid siege to the prison as pilgrims headed for Pandharpur set up camps nearby. The pilgrims would eat meals in the open, which served as a magnet for the flies.
“There are billions of flies that come into the jail. I mean I’m telling you there are flies all over the place, I’ve never seen so many flies,” he said, adding that the flies often fell into the inmates’ food.
“I used to take these flies out and throw (but)…used to eat a couple of flies also by mistake,” he added.
How he got by
What really helped him, Dutt said, was maintaining a positive attitude. “I just thought that God has given me this time, three to four years… Why can’t I use it in a more positive way than just brooding about it?”
He subsequently launched a radio station for the prison, YCP, and played RJ along with a couple of other inmates. “We used to play a lot of songs and talk about (different) topics and everything,” he said.
Books helped too, and Dutt picked up several on Hinduism, reading about Shiva and the Vedas.
‘A university of criminals’
Asked if India’s prisons help with inmates’ rehabilitation, the actor said the system was broken. “(They are) A university to become a criminal,” he added.
Dutt said the “condition of our prisons is such that even if you’re not a criminal, you’ll become a big one when you come out”. He added that not only prisons, but also the judicial system needed to be reformed, referring to the time undertrials spend behind bars. “I have witnessed a number of families break down because of the sheer sluggishness of the justice delivery mechanism,” he said.