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When Sanjay Dutt popped LSD and tried to ‘arrange’ his father’s face

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This excerpt from Yasser Usman’s ‘Sanjay Dutt: The crazy untold story of Bollywood’s bad boy’ speaks about what happened after the actor popped a pill of LSD. 

The planning and preparation for the shooting of Rocky was in full swing. Sunil Dutt was leaving no stone unturned in his quest to direct a power-packed debut film for his son. Sanjay, however, was on his own trip. Acid would give him an amazing high after which his mind would get slow and fuzzy and at times he would start to hallucinate.

Sanjay recalled a hilarious incident from those days that shows how little Sunil knew what his son was up to: ‘I had popped in some acid, LSD. It’s called purple haze. It kind of hits you after a while.’5 Sanjay was sitting alone in his room, waiting for the drug to kick in. Suddenly the house phone rang. It was the operator from Sunil’s office. He told Sanjay that his dad wanted to speak with him. ‘He said office aa jao. [Come to the office.]’ Sanjay wanted to refuse, knowing that the LSD was about to kick in. But Sunil was adamant – he needed to meet Sanjay urgently. Perhaps he wanted to talk about the shooting schedule for Rocky.

As Sanjay reached his father’s office, the LSD started to take effect. Remembering that evening, Sanjay said, ‘So Dad is talking to me and it [the LSD] suddenly hit me. He is talking to me and I could hear “waannrr . . . einn [gibberish]!” Now I am saying to myself, “Sanju, you’re tripping. Just take it easy. Just keep nodding.” So I kept nodding and I kept hearing him like “aannoonn . . . aann [gibberish]!”’

On the other side of the table, an irritated Sunil just thought Sanjay seemed uninterested in the conversation. Then Sanjay started to hallucinate: ‘All of a sudden I see a wig come out of his head and that wig caught fire . . . And I am looking at him and thinking what the hell is happening, man!’ Sanjay wanted to save his father before the flames engulfed him. Another part of his mind kept reminding him that he was just tripping. But soon enough he lost all touch with reality. ‘Dad started melting like wax. He was like a candle.’ Sanjay ‘dived on him’ and tried to ‘put his face together’. He screeched ‘Dad! Dad! Don’t die on me. Don’t melt.’

But Sunil still didn’t get it. Worried witless, he just yelled in Punjabi, ‘Ki hoya . . . ki hoya yaar mere puttar nu? [What’s happened? What’s happened to my son?]’
Sanjay explains, ‘At that time nobody knew what these things were. There were no treatment centres. My father didn’t know, my sisters didn’t know, friends didn’t know. Nobody knew what is this powder.’ Sanjay was slipping badly. He needed help.

But the show had to go on. Rocky was a mainstream revenge action–drama, with predictable plot turns. It had a weak script. A union leader, Shankar (Sunil Dutt), lives with his wife Parvati (Rakhee) and young son Rakesh (Sanjay played the grown-up Rakesh. Sunil’s was a cameo role, and he and Sanjay had no scenes together). Shankar works in a construction company owned by Ratanlal (Anwar Hussain). Both Shankar and Ratanlal are killed by Jagdish (Ranjeet). Jagdish also tries to attack Shankar’s widow, Parvati, who for certain complicated reasons has to give up Rakesh for adoption to Robert (Amjad Khan) and his wife, Kathy (Aruna Irani), who rename him Rocky. Rocky grows up and falls in love with Renuka (Tina Munim). Later he learns that his mother is still alive and sets out to avenge his father’s death. Complex, yes, but standard Bollywood fare.

Rocky’s first shoot schedule was to last for twenty-three days in Kashmir. Sanjay was extremely tense. ‘I remember my first shot was in Srinagar. I had to jump out of a window in a song. There were 200 to 300 people gathered. I was really nervous because Dad was there, Priya was there and it was really important that my first shot is okayed. And it did,’ Sanjay later remembered.

Some of the romantic scenes and a few songs in the film – Kya yehi pyaar hai and Aao mere yaaron aao – that later became quite popular were also shot in Kashmir. Sanjay’s co-star was Tina Munim, two years his senior, who later married the Ambani scion Anil. By the time the schedule ended, the intimacy between the pair was apparently obvious to everyone.

One incident stands out in particular. One morning a crowd of around two hundred people had gathered to watch the shoot. When one of the onlookers made an obscene gesture at Tina, Sanjay flew into a rage. According to the December 1989 issue of Stardust magazine, he rushed into the crowd and caught the man, tore away all his clothes and pulled him into his van, where he tied him up in the nude for an hour. ‘I was a wild guy,’ Sanjay proudly said. ‘In fact at the slightest provocation I did things like taking out a sword. I hit a lot of people.’

There were other pretty crazy stories about Sanjay doing the rounds. According to his make-up man Manoj, who worked with Sanjay during his initial few films, Sanjay was an obsessive hunter. Stardust magazine described Sanjay’s mania thus: ‘Which man shoots a cheetah at point-blank range, in the throat and then smashes its leg with a rifle when it falls?’

That wasn’t all. The magazine further said: ‘Which ordinary man cuts the neck of a monitor lizard (ghorpad) and drinks its blood and then jogs for one hour to sweat out the toxic effect only because Shakti Kapoor challenged him to do so?’ Manoj also talked about an incident when Sanjay ‘slit his entire forearm with a bottle’ because he was ‘high’. When the doctor arrived to sew him up, Sanjay tried to do it himself – without anaesthesia!

During the schedule in Kashmir though, Sanjay had managed to temporarily reduce his drug intake. He was fearful of his father’s constant presence at the shoot. He also wanted to control his drug dependency for the sake of his career. But that was easier said than done. Once he returned to Mumbai, Sanjay was back on drugs. But in addition to this addiction, Sanjay had a new obsession in his life – Tina.

He was in love. Soon he began to date Tina, and the news of the new young lovebirds spread. A co-star who worked with Sanjay in those initial years recalled that he and Tina were inseparable. The corridors and make-up rooms of Seth Studio and Mehboob Studio and the film units working there were witness to their closeness. If either was shooting there, the other would turn up. In 1981 Tina told an interviewer, ‘I tell him the kind of things that girls normally tell their boyfriends – that if we part, I will die or commit suicide or kill myself for him, and the rest of those childish things . . . I know what I want from life . . . We care for each other very deeply, and I wish that we are able to work things out in the long run.’

Yasser Usman’s ‘Sanjay Dutt: The crazy untold story of Bollywood’s bad boy’ is published by Juggernaut.

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