Sanjay Gupta is a changed man and he admits it. Till a few years ago, he was, in his own words, “reckless and fearless”. He never thought he would reach where he has. But life had other plans for him. Personally, he went through a tough phase when he split with his wife Anu, but the couple managed to put their past behind them and got together again. His family, comprising Anu and his two kids, is what matters the most to him now. “Whenever I get free time, I spend it with my children. My kids need to be proud of their father rather than his legacy, so it’s almost like starting afresh,” he tells me, when I drop in at his house in Versova. The director, who went through a lean phase professionally for a while, bounced back with Shootout at Wadala. Gupta talks about his next movie Mumbai Saga, patching up with Sanjay Dutt and reviving his pet project Alibaug.
Excerpts from the interview:
What’s Mumbai Saga all about?
Mumbai Saga was born out of all the research that we did for Shootout at Wadala (SAW). After SAW, I read a two-page treatment by former journalist S Hussain Zaidi and was blown away. But what he gave me was a story of one gangster and one cop and the war between them. I saw the macro picture. To me, what was more exciting was the background of the story. Mumbai Saga is the story responsible for shaping the way our skyline is today. It’s about the mills and the nexus between mill owners and the underworld. Between the two, they could not operate on their own unless backed by political parties. So it’s also about the alliance between them and where the police fit into this.
Why do most of your films deal with gangsters?
These are the kind of movies I like watching. Thankfully this year, the idiotic films haven’t done well and that gives us filmmakers lot of confidence. It means people want to see stuff that’s sensible and believable. It’s like going back to the movies but minus the bulls**t.
Why did you think of reviving Alibaug? Aren’t you worried about the film looking jaded?
Alibaug is a moral commitment I have towards the cast. Also, it’s a film that’s extremely close to my heart. The movie is complete, there’s just some patchwork left. As for the film looking jaded, that’s the one thing I don’t have to worry about, since my styling is always a bit ahead of time.
What’s the equation you share with Sanjay Dutt now?
I’m just glad that all the negativity is done and over with. The problem was that there were a bunch of people around Dutt who, today, stand exposed. My only regret is, that when those accusations were flying around, I chose to remain silent because I didn’t have a platform to come and clear my stand. Today, I stand vindicated. I can’t say that my relationship with Sanju is the way it used to be. We need to get the trust back in the relationship.
One criticism we have for you is that the women in your movies are always side-lined.
I’m going to surprise you on that. I have recently worked out a female-centric film and have given it to a wonderful actress to read. So there, I will make up for all those years of unsignificant female roles.