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Rs 50 crore riding on Sanjay Dutt

Last updated on: July 31, 2007 13:53 IST
For more then ten years, Sanjay Dutt made the rounds of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act court in Mumbai, in connection with the 1993 blasts case.

That journey ended on Tuesday with his being sentenced to six years in prison for an offence under the Arms Act.

Since he will go to prison immediately, the star's pending films, Dhamaal, Mr Fraud, Kidnap and Alibaug will be affected.

The third instalment of the Munnabhai series, Munnabhai Chale Amreika, which was postponed until next year, may now never be made.

"Around Rs 50 crores (Rs 500 million) is at stake," says Komal Nahta, editor of the trade weekly, Film Information.

"Sanjay was among the top heroes in 1993. Unfortunately, after his arrest then, no big producer wanted to cast him. They thought he would be in and out of jail, and their projects would suffer," a Bollywood trade analyst said on Monday, speaking on condition that he would not be identified for this report.

TADA court Judge Kode acquitted Dutt of charges under TADA, but held him guilty of illegal possession of weapons.

It has been a long and tiring journey for the 48-year-old actor since his name surfaced during the investigation of the March 12, 1993 serial blasts that killed 257 people and injured hundreds of others.

During the interrogation of film producers Samir Hingora and Hanif Kadawala, they claimed that Dutt had sought help from the underworld to acquire weapons to protect his family during the horrific Mumbai riots.

His father Sunil Dutt, a Congress MP, was often threatened with dire consequences for helping the victims of the riots.

Sanjay Dutt was on location in Mauritius when the news broke and was arrested on his return to India. The actor spent 16 months in jail -- many of those months in the infamous 'Anda cell' in solitary confinement with just a sparrow on his cell window for company. The Supreme Court granted him bail in October 1995.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf