Anti-hero Khalnayak or the affable Munnabhai, however you look at him, there is a man inside the star; and that man falters just as any other would. But this one mistake of Sanjay Dutt has been found serious enough by the Supreme Court to send him behind bars for five years. No one would argue with the legal merits of the sentence, but many a heart would go out to the father of a grown-up daughter and twin tiny tots resigning to the pain of his own doing. Initial reports quote him as saying he accepts the ruling ‘as it is’. That perhaps is the best way to prepare for the more than three years he may yet have to spend in jail.
Acceptance does mitigate distress. Sanjay is a star, has been involved in charity work, was born into a family as respected and celebrated as it gets. His conduct since his bail in 2007 – and even earlier, barring the one mistake he is paying for – gives no reason to suspect he holds any threat to society. Yet, to say that he need not be sent to jail because he seems a ‘good man’ would be presumptuous to the extent that it would amount to giving a certificate of character to a man because he is in a certain position.
It is not the posturing or proclamation of good intent that make a man, but his actions. And here he is, found possessing illegal weapons, procured from people of patently sinister character. There is no denying that Sanjay’s has been a life of extraordinary emotional upheavals – drugs, a mother dying of cancer while he was still in his early twenties, a wife dying, a divorce, and now imprisonment. And that perhaps makes him the tragic hero for us, who otherwise should have lived nothing but a high life. His fate should also serve to bring us all – forever looking for that forbidden thrill – down to mother earth. Even more, it would be people in his station who would do well to get in touch with reality.