By: Raymond Ronamai
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
The whole nation split into two, or at the most, three, on July 31. Actor Sanjay Dutt, whom the people fondly called Munna Bhai, was sentenced to six years vigorous imprisonment by a special court on this very day in connection to the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. When the verdict was out, some supported Sanjay, some were against while others remained indifferent. But the fact is, law doesn't bend.
The otherwise happening Bollywood came to a standstill when the court announced it verdict on Sanjay Dutt while news channels, print media and portals were busy trying to get the best out of the perhaps 'biggest celebrity news of the decade'. It also came as a blessing in disguise for controversy-prone actors like Bipasha Basu and Shilpa Shetty. The news of Bipasha's troubled relationship with John Abraham following her kiss with Manchester United footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and Shilpa's alleged budding relationship with NRI businessman Raj Kundra were overshadowed by Sanjay's tragic story.
The most interesting part of the story is the reaction of the people in the film fraternity and outside. Some people in the film industry like Mahesh Bhatt, Kiron Kher, Saira Banu and others bravely stood for the actor and raised their voice against the verdict meted to the actor though many chose to remain silent – the safest route. Sympathy wave for the actor was apparent. On the other hand, some welcomed the verdict, as it clearly gave out the point that nobody is above the law.
The point that Sanjay's supporters raised was the weightage of the punishment. They were of the opinion that the six years imprisonment was too harsh for the simple reason that the actor had suffered enough, having stayed behind the bars for 16 months in the past. Their point is - why six years and not lesser when the minimum punishment is five years? They argued that the actor had paid a heavy price for being a celebrity and that the law of the country is trying to make an example out of him, forgetting the fact that the actor had been leading peaceful life; doing his acting profession dutifully all these years.
Points taken. But there is no doubt that Sanjay had done a grave mistake. The horrifying fact is that AK-56 that he once owned is a very dangerous weapon that could end many lives. Besides this, he is also charged of owning a 9 mm pistol. So, the law of the land had taken its course putting behind the image of the person involved. It also proved that everybody in the country, irrespective of social status and class, is equal before the eyes of the law. In short, law is the great leveller.
In a way, the latest verdict is 'freedom' for Sanjay Dutt. He had gone through lots of physical and mental turmoil during the last 14 years. At least for now, he knows that he can walk free again after six years. He is only 48 years old. So, he has many years left to contribute to the film industry. Moreover, he will get the change to learn Gandhian principles in the prison. One should not forget that rainbow appears only after rain.