Sanjay Dutt can afford to let out a huge sigh of relief, knowing that he won’t have to breathe in the stale, confined air of a prison cell for at least another month. The Supreme Court granted the superstar a four-week reprieve yesterday, driving a hard bargain with Dutt, who had sought six months of extended freedom, citing pressing work commitments that he needed to honour.
While the basis of Dutt’s plea for a reprieve was the fact that he had films worth a collective Rs 278 crore riding on him, MiD DAY did its own calculations to determine just how pressing, and time-consuming these ‘work commitments’ are. Four films featuring Dutt are on the floors at present - PeeKay with Aamir Khan under the direction of Rajkumar Hirani, Zanjeer 2 with Apoorva Lakhia, Policegiri with KS Ravikumar, and Ungli, a Rensil D’Silva film. A fifth production Sher with director Soham Shah has died a slow death. In the Zanjeer remake, Dutt reprises the iconic role of Sher Khan that was played by legendary ‘bad man’ Pran in the original.
A source close to the film’s director Apoorva Lakhia told MiD DAY, “We will require a minimum of five to six days with Sanju. Three days will be required to shoot his scenes with actors including Priyanka Chopra, while the rest of the time will be required to finish dubbing for the film. We shot with him for three days last week.” PeeKay director Hirani laid claim on a greater share of the actor’s time, saying, “Sanju still has eight days of shoot left for PeeKay to be completed.” About a fortnight of hard work will thus allow Dutt to tick Zanjeer 2 and PeeKay off his checklist, leaving him with Ungli and Policegiri.
When the verdict was announced against Dutt last month, Ungli director Rensil D’Silva had said, “I have completed the portions for my film which feature Sanju. Since I had shot the film in sync sound, I won’t be needing him for dubbing, but my heart goes out to him and his family.” But now that Dutt has a month of extended freedom, the makers have decided to shoot a sequence that they had earlier thought was inessential.
Four days of Dutt’s services will be required for this sequence - a couple of days for the shoot and another couple to dub for the same. Policegiri, which rides solely on Dutt’s star power, has a maximum of three days’ work left. Some patchwork remains for a song shoot, which will account for a couple of days, while some dubbing remains to be completed.
All told, Dutt needs a maximum of 21 days of work - a mere three weeks - to be able to go to jail with a clear conscience. This begs questions about the ‘work’ that the superstar was planning to do in the five extra months he would have in hand, had the court granted his plea for a six-month reprieve. Dutt’s lawyer Satish Maneshinde refused to comment on the matter. Dutt did not receive our phone calls.
A trade analyst told MiD DAY, requesting anonymity: “Sanjay Dutt is part of expensive films, but only one is totally dependent on him. Policegiri is the only film riding on his shoulders, in which he plays a hero. He plays second lead in both Zanjeer and PeeKay, to Ram Charan Teja and Aamir Khan respectively. The makers of Zanjeer are counting on the film’s release in Telugu to recover most of the money, as the hero of the film Ram Charan Teja is a huge star down south. Sanju isn’t even part of the Telugu version. Ungli is more of a Dharma-Karan Johar production.”
8 Days: PeeKay
5 Days: Zanjeer 2
3 Days: Policegiri
4 Days: Ungli