Munna Bhai returns

After 884 days in prison, Dutt walked out of jail to both cheers and jeers

It was at 8.39 am that the hour of freedom came for Sanjay Dutt, as he walked out of Yerawada Central Prison and into the drama raging outside. Around 100 policemen had been posted outside since 6 am to keep the mob of fans and detractors at bay.

Sanjay Dutt emerged from the iron gates at 8.30 am and turned around to salute the prison before he left with family and friends. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Sanjay Dutt emerged from the iron gates at 8.30 am and turned around to salute the prison before he left with family and friends. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

After serving 884 days in a case related to the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, the 56-year-old (convict number 16656) emerged from the iron gates in a blue shirt and jeans and a trademark tilak on his forehead. He was carrying a few belongings in a green holdall on the right, while in his left hand, he had a green file with all his paperwork and diary. A red Mata ki chunari was in his left pocket. As he stepped out, Dutt put his belongings down, touched the ground in respect and turned around to salute the prison gates, joined his hands in a pranam and bid adieu to his days as a convict.

A 30-foot barricade had been set up around the prison gates, and on the other side of it stood hundreds of people both cheering and jeering at the prospect of the actor making his way out. Many fans had been there since daybreak, waiting to catch a glimpse of him, while a group from the Karjadar-Zamindar Hak Bachao Samiti was also there, protesting his early release.

Dutt made a beeline for his family members and was welcomed by his wife, Maanayata, who had arrived in Pune at 2 am and had been waiting outside the prison since 7 am, chanting god’s name. Dutt also met his film industry friends like filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani (who made the Munnabhai films with him), scriptwriter Abhijat Joshi (Lage Raho Munna Bhai) and his lawyer friend, Pradip Rai, among many others.

His fans immediately began to call out to him, and he turned to greet them as well, but was speechless.

Karan Kumar Jaswani (29), a resident of Undri, said, “I am huge fan of Sanjay Dutt and am happy we will see him onscreen soon. I have been waiting to see him since 5 am. I pray to see him in the pink of health; today I am going to distribute cake for free in my shop.”

Minutes later, Dutt was whisked away to the airport. “The family had organised a chartered plane which had been kept waiting at Pune International Airport since 8.30 am. As per the schedule, he had to board the plane by 10 am. However, the flight was delayed by an hour because the Air Force was conducting Sukhoi drills and there was a signal issue,” said a senior police officer.

Hair care
Onlookers noticed that Sanjay Dutt had a new hairstyle — a half Mohawk at the back with blond highlights. Prison sources informed this reporter that the actor would trim and style his hair himself.


Pic/Bipin Kokate

He approached the Bombay High Court, which sanctioned a shaving kit with a trimming machine for him, which he used thrice a month. He only took the help of the prison barber once during his stint.

New Munna Bhai films
Scriptwriter Abhijat Joshi, who worked on the Munna Bhai films with Sanjay Dutt, told mid-day, “We have been waiting for Sanjay Dutt desperately, as he is the only one who can do justice to the character. Two to three scripts are already in the pipeline, including Munna Bhai Chale Amrika.”

Fan speak

Shailesh Pawar, Caterer

Shailesh Pawar, Caterer
Since 2013, I have not even seen any movies because I was waiting for Dutt to come out. Today, after I see him, I will open my catering business and then go visit Dagadusheth Ganpati temple to pray for a long life for him and his family.

Timeline

>> 6 am: 100 cops posted outside jail; DIG (Prison) Swati Sathe, and Prison Superintendent UT Pawar arrive

>> 7.15 am: Some cops move to guard the roads around the prison

>> 8 am: Sanjay Dutt’s family and friends begin to arrive 

>> 8.30 am: Dutt exits from the prison and fans begin cheering and chanting Ganpati Bappa Morya

>> 8.35 am: He keeps his luggage in a white Fortuner, greets his wife Maanayata and his friends and then turns around to greet his fans

>> 8.40 am: The car leaves with Dutt and heads to Pune airport

>> 9 am: They reach the airport with an hour to spare before boarding the chartered plane to Mumbai

>> 11 am: Flight takes off after an hour’s delay due to signal problems

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