Sunil Dutt was born as Balraj Dutt on June 6, 1928. His family hails from Khurd village, Jhelum district, Punjab Province, British India, which is now part of Pakistan. His father Diwan Raghunath Dutt, passed away when the former was five. His family resettled in a small village named Mandauli, on the banks of the river Yamuna in Yamuna Nagar, Punjab, which is now a district in Haryana, after escaping Hindu-Muslim violence during the Partition of India with the help of a friend of Dutt's father. He was 18 at the time. (All photos/mid-day archives)
Sunil Dutt moved to Lucknow with his mother, Kulwantidevi Dutt, and spent a long time in Aminabad Galli during graduation, following which he joined Jai Hind College as an undergraduate. Dutt received employment at the city's BEST Transport division.
Before foraying into films, Sunil Dutt gained popularity as the host on the Hindi service of Radio Ceylon, the oldest radio station in South Asia. He began his acting career in 1955 with Railway Platform.
Sunil Dutt achieved stardom with the 1957 film Mother India, in which he starred opposite future wife Nargis. He played her short-tempered and angry son in the film, which also starred Rajendra Kumar. Interestingly, Dutt saved Nargis from a fire that broke out on sets during filming, after which he got romantically involved and married in 1958.
Sunil Dutt and wife Nargis are parents to son Sanjay Dutt, who went on to become a top Bollywood star in his own right, daughters Priya Dutt, who forayed into politics and Namrata, who is married to actor Kumar Gaurav, the son of Dutt's Mother India co-star, Rajendra Kumar. Pictured: Dutt at the wedding of daughter Namrata with Kumar Gaurav.
Sunil Dutt was one of Hindi cinema's major stars in the 1950s and 1960s. During this time he starred in several successful films including, Sadhna (1958), Sujata (1959), Mujhe Jeene Do (1963), Khandan (1965) and Padosan (1967). Padosan saw him share the screen with stalwart Kishore Kumar and Saira Banu. The songs Meri Saamne Wali Khidki and Ek Chatur Naar were chartbusters. Pictured: Dutt with Mahesh Bhatt, Rajendra Kumar, son-in-law Kumar Gaurav and son Sanjay Dutt.
Sunil Dutt's collaboration with B.R. Chopra proved to be successful in films such as Gumraah (1963), Waqt (1965) and Hamraaz (1967). One of his favourite writers and friends was Aghajani Kashmeri. Pictured: Sunil Dutt with wife Nargis and son Sanjay.
In 1964, Sunil Dutt created a record of sorts, when he produced, directed and starred in the film Yaadein, which was unique for the time as it only featured him as part of the cast. It won the Guinness Book of World Records in the category of Fewest actors in a narrative film. Pictured: Dutt with RD Burman and Sanjay Dutt.
Sunil Dutt then produced the film Man Ka Meet in 1968, which marked his brother Som Dutt's foray into Bollywood. The latter was however unsuccessful in this endeavour. Dutt was conferred with the Padma Shri by the Government of India the same year. Pictured: Dutt with a little Sanjay Dutt (standing to his left) and wife Nargis (standing behind Sanjay).
Sunil Dutt, produced, directed and starred in Reshma Aur Shera in 1971, which marked the debuts of a 12-year-old Sanjay Dutt (who worked as a child artiste and featured in a song as a qawwali singer in a brief appearance) and screen legend Amitabh Bachchan. Waheeda Rehman was Dutt's leading lady and the film was even selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 44th Academy Awards. Pictured: Dutt and Rajendra Kumar.
Sunil Dutt continued to deliver hits in the 1970s. His most notable screen credits during this period include Heera (1973), Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974), Nagin (1976) and Jaani Dushman (1979). Pictured: Dutt with the late Amjad Khan and son Sanjay Dutt.
Sunil Dutt also starred in religious Punjabi films during this time. Notable mentions are Man Jeete Jag Jeet (1973), Dukh Bhanjan Tera Naam (1974), and Sat Sri Akal (1977). Pictured: Dutt and Sanjay Dutt.
In 1981, Sunil Dutt launched his son Sanjay Dutt's career with the 1981 film Rocky, which also starred Tina Munim (now Tina Ambani), Reena Roy, Aruna Irani and Shakti Kapoor. Tragedy struck when Dutt's wife Nargis passed away a few days before the release of the film due to pancreatic cancer. The film went on to become a huge success. An empty seat was reserved for the late Nargis at the movie's premiere. Pictured: Dutt with Smita Patil.
Sunil Dutt founded the Nargis Dutt Foundation in her memory for the curing of cancer patients. He was a sponsor of the India Project, an organisation akin to Operation Smile for the treatment of Indian children with facial deformities. Pictured: Dutt and the effervescent Mumtaz.
Sunil Dutt was appointed the Sheriff of Mumbai in 1982, which is an apolitical titular position that was bestowed on him by the Maharashtra government for a year. Pictured: Dutt with son-in-law Kumar Gaurav, Madhuri Dixit and Rajendra Kumar.
Sunil Dutt's last Bollywood releases were Yash Chopra's Parampara (1992) and J.P. Dutta's Kshatriya (1993), after which he retired from the film industry in the early 1990s and embarked on a career in politics. Although the actor came out of retirement for Rajkumar Hirani's movie Munnabhai MBBS (2003) to play Sanjay Dutt's on-screen dad. Sunil Dutt shared the screen with son Sanjay for the first time although they had appeared earlier in Rocky (1981) and Kshatriya (1993) but not in the same scenes together. Pictured: Dutt and Madhuri Dixit.
Sunil Dutt's political career halted for a few years in the early 1990s when he worked to free his son Sanjay Dutt from jail after he was arrested for keeping an AK-56, a Pistol and hand grenades that he claimed was for the protection of his family after the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts. Sanjay would later be arrested again reimprisoned in connection with this in March 2013 after and was released on February 25, 2016. Pictured: Dutt with former Prime Minister Morarji Desai.
Sunil Dutt was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995 for his contribution to the film industry for four decades. Pictured: Dutt addressing a political rally.
Sunil Dutt passed away after suffering a heart attack on May 25, 2005 at his residence in Bandra, Mumbai. He was the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports in the Union Government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh and was the Member of Parliament from North-west Mumbai at the time of his passing. Pictured: The actor-turned-politician addressing a rally at Azad Maidan in Mumbai.
Sunil Dutt was cremated with full state honours at Santacruz Crematorium in Mumbai and succeeded by Mani Shankar Aiyar. Daughter Priya Dutt contested and won his seat in the Parliament and was an MP till May 2014. The legendary actor was essayed by Paresh Rawal in son Sanjay Dutt's biopic, Sanju, in which Ranbir Kapoor played Sanjay on-screen.
You are truly missed, Sir!
On the birth anniversary of the legendary Hindi film industry actor, Sunil Dutt, we pay a tribute to him with a collection of vintage black and white pictures from his life and career
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