Being in and out of prison for 23 years is not something you can just get past overnight, even after you’ve been released for good. Just ask Sanjay Dutt.
The 56-year-old actor, who was convicted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, served a 42-month sentence at Pune’s Yerwada jail and walked out of jail last month but says the feeling of freedom is yet to sink in.
“I was in solitary confinement. It will take a bit longer for me to feel free. In there, there are so many restrictions, you need permission for everything. I am getting used to living life like a free man. The feeling is yet to hit me.”
“They imprison you mentally more than physically. They tell you what to do and what not do in prison,” Dutt said speaking the India Today Conclave.
He said contrary to people’s perception he did not receive any special treatment during his jail term and was treated just like other inmates: “I did not get any VIP treatment. In fact, I was treated worse than normal inmates as everyone assumed I was getting special treatment. The worse thing about jail was the food, it was terrible and not edible at all.”
The star went on to to in a way deny the charge that put him behind bars.
“I am a patriot, my family is a patriot. I cannot think of harming my country. It did affect me a lot but I thank people that they didn’t lose their faith in me and believed in me.”
“I don’t have any regrets. I have learnt a lot in these years. It has taught me not to be brash. I have learnt to respect the law of our country and also have learnt about it but yes, perhaps I do regret the day those weapons came into my house.”
“In those times everyone from Bollywood was involved with the underworld. Everyone was getting calls, threats. I got the weapon from a producer not from the underworld,” he said.
The actor also opened up about his drug problem which he said began after the death of his mother, actress Nargis Dutt.
“I am quite a shy person in real life. I got into the habit of drugs after my mother died and then it became chronic. I have done every drug there is. My dad didn’t understand what was wrong with me but then one day I couldn’t handle it anymore and my dad took me to hospital. From there, I went to a rehab in the United States. It’s been 40 years since and I haven’t looked back,” he revealed.
Dutt said he does not need drugs anymore as he gets his adrenaline rush from his work now and that his main focus right now is on his family and his career. Dutt also said he wants to help jail reforms and people with drug abuse past.
Piece of advice from the man himself? “Don’t take freedom for granted.”
Dutt has three films in the pipeline: one with Siddharth Anand, one with Vidhu Vinod Chopra and the third Munnabhai film.