EXCLUSIVE - Paresh Rawal: I give 100 salutes to Sanjay Dutt for baring his entire life to be shown on screen
Paresh Rawal is all set to step into the shoes of Sanjay Dutt's Sunil Dutt for Rajkumar Hirani's Sanju. We got a chance to meet the actor and understand what went through in getting the role just right on screen.
Paresh Rawal can add soul to any character - be it getting into the skin of Indian freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel or making us laugh with the character of Baburao in Hera Pheri. The veteran actor has no inhibitions in playing darkest of the characters - films like Ram Lakhan, Jigar, Damini and Auzaar have set a mark for the actor.
Now, he is all set to step into the shoes of Sanjay Dutt's father Sunil Dutt for Rajkumar Hirani's Sanju. We got a chance to meet Paresh Rawal and as soon as we entered the room, there was a smile on his face. He told us that he is indeed lucky that he is playing Dutt Saab in a Rajkumar Hirani film and can't be thankful enough that destiny has chosen him for the role.
We started the conversation and we asked him what was his first reaction when Rajkumar called him and said that he will be playing the role of Sunil Dutt in Sanjay Dutt's biopic. Sharing his feelings, the Firaaq actor said, "When Rajkumar called me, I was happy. In fact, I was supposed to work with him in Munna Bhai, but something happened and we couldn't work together. And since then, I was dying to work with him. I, somewhere, heard that Raju is making a film on Sanju, but in our industry, we keep on hearing that some of the other films are being. When he called me, he offered me the role of Sunil Dutt. I was happy and at the same time, I was petrified. I was like one more biopic and a real-life character and it's tough to portray that on screen. In all, I was happy that I am getting to work with him. It was a win-win situation for me."
Further, into the conversation, we asked him has he met Sunil Dutt personally and how has that helped him in understanding his role in a better way. On this, he told us, "I did not know Sunil Dutt, personally. Yes, I had met him twice or thrice. He was into the social work and he was helping cancer patients. He had a goodwill and whenever I met him, I always got that positive vibe. See, Sanjay Dutt has a distinctive style, so you could adopt the mannerism. But, it's not the case with Sunil Saab - he was normal, so portraying that role was challenging because he doesn't have any distinct mannerisms."
Paresh Rawal believes it's some cosmic or divine call that he is getting to play the role of Dutt Saab. He shared an incident with us which made us believe what he had said. "On May 25, 2005, I was shooting for a film and I called up my wife and said that I will be late today. And while we were shooting, we got the sad news that Dutt Saab has passed away. I again rang up my wife to tell her that I will be going to Dutt Saab's house. Then, she told me that I have got a letter from Sunil Dutt's side. I was stunned to know it. When she told me that it was a birthday wish for me from his side, I was even more shocked as my birthday was on May 30. Dutt Saab and I have never exchanged Diwali or Holi wishes. I was wondering that why would send me a birthday letter," he said.
Without taking a pause, he continued, "This, I understand now. So, on January 3, 2017, I was heading to meet Rajkumar Hirani. I told my wife that I will take some documents when I return from the meeting. When I was sitting with Raju, my wife called and said with the documents, she found the letter that Dutt Saab sent me. I thought it's some divine thing that on the very same day Raju narrated me my part of Sunil Dutt, I found the letter. I even showed the letter to Rajkumar Hirani. One more strange thing is that the letter was with me for so many years. It's some cosmic connection. One more co-incidence is that Dutt Saab was from the ruling party and I am also ruling party's MP."
Well, yes that's divine intervention. The conversation between us and the Auzaar actor got even more interesting when we asked - Did Ranbir give justice to Sanjay Dutt's story?
With a spark in his eyes, he said, "He has done more than justice to the role. I would say that it's a path-breaking performance and it should be shown in acting schools. He has gone beyond mimicry and it's difficult. I had seen something like this in The Godfather Part II and Robert De Niro had done it and post that, this has done. It's difficult to adopt mannerism of a real-life person and even add the nuances of your acting into it. Surprisingly, Ranbir's voice also has a similarity to Sanjay's voice."
Now, that he has worked with Ranbir and he has also shared the screen space with Sanju. How similar are they in real life. "Sanjay Dutt is a prankster and brings life to the sets. There is no malice in Sanjay Dutt. He is kind of a 'mastikhor'. Ranbir, on the other hand, is very focused and observant. He is an amazing actor," said Rawal.
Continuing the interaction, we asked him about the first day on the sets of Sanju - was he nervous? What was going through in his head? On this, he said, "I was tensed on the first day. I had to lose weight and I lost 12 kgs in 32 days. On the 1st day, there is a sort of anxiety. When I gave the first shot, Raju told me - 'We got our Sunil Dutt'."
Here's when we took a pause and asked what does he think it was brave of Sanjay Dutt to bare out his controversial story in public domain to see. "I give 100 salutes to Sanjay Dutt for baring his entire life to be shown on screen. Through his own story, he wants to tell the youngsters that 'don't do this, I have crossed it'. Sanjay has overcome drugs and it's not that easy. Everything was on a toss for Sanjay Dutt - be it his acting or his family and despite all the tensions, he never went back to taking drugs," said the actor.
"I am a father and I have two sons. I can understand the pain of a father. Ranbir's acting has supported me with a terrific script," Paresh Rawal ended the conversation on an emotional note.
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