In Mumbai, Sanjay Dutt's biggest fan gears up for his homecoming
As Sanjay Dutt walks out of jail and heads home today, it will be a busy day for one of his biggest fans: 38-year-old Sandeep Bacche, an auto rickshaw driver who will ferry other fans from Bandra station to the actor’s residence at Pali Hill house, Imperial Heights.
Known as Munnabhai SSC after the actor’s famous film Munnabhai MBBS, 38-year-old Sandeep Bacche will decorate his rickshaw with flowers today. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
As one of Dutt’s biggest fans, Bacche wears his love for the actor on his sleeve — or rather, under it — with a tattoo of Sanju Baba on his arm. Bacche has been an admirer ever since the actor made his debut in 1981 with Rocky. "I was barely four at that time. I remember going to the theatre and clapping every time Sanjay Dutt was on screen. He has a great screen presence. I have watched all his films on the big screen. TV doesn’t have that same magic," he says.
Flowers, banners and decorations will be put on Bacche’s rickshaw to celebrate Dutt’s freedom. Bacche signs off saying, "I usually start my day at 8 am and finish by 9 pm. I earn between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200. Many people think I am mad to give up so much for my love for Sanjay Dutt. Only I know what he means to me as a person who touched my life."
Bacche first met Dutt in 2002, when his mother was battling a life-threatening illness. "I did not have money for her treatment and heard that Sunil Dutt, an MP at that time, was providing medical aid to the poor. I stood in the long queue, but was never able to get help because of some problem or the other. I sat outside their house and waited for a week every day after I finished my rickshaw shift, Bacche adds. One day, Sanjay walked up to him and asked him his story. "He heard me out and asked me that if he helped me today, what would happen tomorrow. I told him I am a genuine person and wanted to try my best to save my mother’s life. He emptied his pockets and gave me R1,200. That gesture touched my heart. My mother died, but I managed to give her the best before that, thanks to Baba. My respect for him increased," he recalls.
In 2013, Bacche got a tattoo on his arm with the actor’s face, below which ‘Baba’ is inscribed. "I am a crazy fan of his. I felt the pain when he was jailed. I cried. I stopped wearing chappals since my god was imprisoned. Till he is set free, comes to my house and drinks water from my hand, I will not wear footwear. I was fortunate to spend Ganesh Chaturthi at his home a few months ago. Baba tried to persuade me to wear slippers, as he would be back soon, but I did not listen. I am very happy that he is free now," says the father of two, who resides in Khar Danda.
He adds, "I am known as Munnabhai SSC, after Baba’s famous film (Munnabhai MBBS). Since I am an SSC pass, that is my name. My wife doesn’t understand my love for Sanju Baba, but my children, who are in school, can relate to it. I hope I will be able to greet him when he is home."