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Birthday special: Sanjay Dutt's 26 unique avatars

Last updated on: July 27, 2012 14:11 IST

Birthday special: Sanjay Dutt's 26 unique avatars

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Sukanya Verma in Mumbai

There are stars and there are stories. And there's Sanjay Dutt, an astonishing blend of both.

It's been many, many years since the wide-eyed, crooked smiling; lanky son of actors Nargis and Sunil Dutt was introduced by these features. 

Over time, he's put on weight in flesh and foundation to emerge as one of the steady survivors of Hindi film industry. Through personal crisis, bereavements and legal scandals, from Bollywood's proverbial bad boy to 'apna Munnabhai,' there are too many twists and turns in the Dutt saga to jot down in one article. 

This year, Dutt completes 40 years in the industry with more than a 100 films to his credit. He also turns 53 on July 29. From stylish, impassive, erratic and self-conscious to earnest, dynamic, self-assured and charismatic, Dutt has grown through decades of great, good and garish films. Here's looking at the birthday boy in his 26 different avatars. 

P:S: This is not a compilation of his best or worst performances but a modest attempt to document Bollywood's beloved 'Baba' growing up.

Reshma Aur Shera, 1972

At 12, Dutt had his first-ever experience in front of the camera as one of the two qawaali boys, flanking character actor Sudhir to Zalim meri sharab mein, in dad Sunil Dutt's home production, Reshma Aur Shera.

Despite the awkward moves, it's the school-boy enthusiasm of participating in something presumably special and an unmistakable 'Nargis' smile that makes his fleeting contribution a lasting memory. 


Image: Sanjay Dutt in Reshma Aur Shera


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Rocky, 1981

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In his early 20s, Dutt kick-started his career with a typical made-to-order star son launch designed to highlight his good looks, fashion-forward wardrobe and prowess at riding bikes, winning dance competitions against Shakti Kapoor and alternating between cocky, lost and vulnerable.

It wasn't the performance of the year but the tall guy in overalls had passed the muster. 


Image: Sanjay Dutt in Rocky


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Mera Faislaa, 1984

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Even the best-known macho guys are reduced to drag queens in the topsy-turvy scheme of Bollywood scripts. Dutt's turn to look ridiculous went largely unnoticed in this 80s potboiler co-starring Rati Agnihotri. 



Image: Sanjay Dutt in Mera Faislaa


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Naam, 1986

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After getting over his drug addiction phase, a sober, mature Dutt emerged with touching portrayals of a pitiable anti-hero in films like Naam, Kabzaa (1988) and Hathyaar (1989).

While Naam gets its due on every Best of Sanjay Dutt list, the other two remain his most underrated albeit superlative works.



Image: Sanjay Dutt in Naam


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Thanedaar, 1990

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Dutt's long hair and spiked crown made quite a statement in Thanedaar as he energetically toiled to match steps with dance queen Madhuri Dixit against Tamma Tamma.



Image: Sanjay Dutt in Thanedaar


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Sadak, 1991

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With Sadak, inspired by Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, Dutt exploded the silver screen with his stylised persona and raw intensity, looking much more game than ever to be surrounded in an over-the-top scenario


Image: Movie poster of Sadak


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Saajan, 1991

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1991 was a fabulous year in Dutt's career. After unleashing his violent side in Sadak, the man did an absolute 360 degree to play a long-haired adopted son of an affluent businessman, also a part-time poet with an alternate identity and a limp.

Romance, friendship, sacrifice and a lot of melodrama follow in this musical love triangle co-starring Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit.



Image: Sanjay Dutt in Saajan


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Yalgaar, 1992

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With none of his go-to gals, Zeenat Aman or Dimple Kapadia around, Feroz Khan turned to hero Sanjay Dutt to up the hotness quotient with his shirtless workout session in this mostly absurd crime drama, better remembered as the one where FK referred to Mukesh Khanna as 'Dad.'


Image: Sanjay Dutt in Yalgaar


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Khalnayak, 1993

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In Subhash Ghai's Khalnayak, Dutt shows how hamming can work to one's advantage with his perfectly whimsical turn as a bandit displaying deluded ideals and a quirky sense of humour.


Image: Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit in Khalnayak


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Daud, 1997

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Just when Dutt was coming into his own as Bollywood's top guy, he ran into legal trouble resulting in the darkest chapters of his personal and professional life.

His return in poorly received fare like Mahanta and Daud revealed a lacklustre version of his former self. 



Image: Urmila Matondkar and Sanjay Dutt in Daud


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Kartoos, 1999

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Meanwhile, Dutt's efforts to woo back audience as he had previously in Mahesh Bhatt films (Naam, Sadak, Gumrah) backfired big time with this Point of No Returnesque thriller donning braided extensions and a month-old stubble.


Image: Sanjay Dutt in Kartoos


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Vaastav, 1999

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It took a couple of years and a tidy haircut before the actor got back his mojo with a powerful portrayal of a cocaine-sniffing mafia man in Vaastav as well as the comedic partner-in-crime to an equally hilarious Govinda in Haseena Maan Jayegi



Image: Sanjay Dutt in Vaastav


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Mission Kashmir, 2000

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Barely in his 40s, Dutt gamely decided to sport shocks of grey hair to play a convincing father to a freshly-minted Hrithik Roshan in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Diwali offering, Mission Kashmir. A well-balanced, solid act, this.



Image: Sanjay Dutt in Mission Kashmir


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Pitaah, 2002

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The daddy bug hit him yet again in Mahesh Manjrekar's underwhelming take on A Time to Kill playing a rural character with all the necessary props and sincerity. 



Image: Sanjay Dutt in Pitaah


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Kaante, 2002

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Ever since Dutt played the loutish thief Ajju in Sanjay Gupta's version of Reservoir Dogs/The Usual Suspects/Heat, the star has religiously experimented with his beard and hair in practically every single criminal character he's done since. 


Image: Sanjay Dutt in Kaante


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Munnabhai MBBS, 2003

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Even the lovable tapori Munnabhai wears tons of blonde dye in his hair. But that's the last thing you notice in Dutt's career best performance as the well-meaning rogue and unlikely crusader for the good of society in Rajkumar Hirani's extremely popular two-film franchise. 



Image: Sanjay Dutt in Munnabhai MBBS


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Plan, 2004

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It's okay if you remember little beyond Dutt's hair colour (silver) and name (Musabhai) in this dreary display of style over substance flicked from yet another Hollywood crime caper (The Suicide Kings). 



Image: Sanjay Dutt in Plan


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Musafir, 2004

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Sanjay Dutt plays the knife-weilding killer Billa in Sanjay Gupta's 2004 thriller film Musafir.

The film is mostly remembered for his reinvented onscreen avatar with leather jackets, cool sunglasses and a thin beard.

 


Image: Musafir


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Parineeta, 2005

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Although it's only a supporting part, Dutt lends it warmth and gravity with his well-aged poise.

Also, it's nice to see the man clean up nice sporting silk kurtas and bandhgalas for Pradeep Sarkar's adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novella. 




Image: Sanjay Dutt in Parineeta


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Zinda, 2006

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Of course, it's back to looking mean and horrific in Gupta's Oldboy rip-off aka Zinda.

He delivers a hard-hitting performance but that dishevelled look makes you want to address him as 'Baba' for distinctly different reasons. 


Image: Sanjay Dutt in Zinda

Tags: Baba , Zinda , Gupta

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Eklavya: The Royal Guard, 2007

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Unlike Amitabh Bachchan or Akshay Kumar, Dutt is so preoccupied being on the wrong side of the law, he's barely ever seen in uniform.

He remedies it with a knockout performance in Eklavya tailor-made for wolf-whistling moments.


Image: Sanjay Dutt in Eklavya: The Royal Guard


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Aladin, 2009

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Relying more and more on exterior paraphernalia, Dutt plays Khalnayak in a magician's costume to pique no one's interest including 'Genie' Amitabh Bachchan in the blah, so very blah Aladin.



Image: Sanjay Dutt in Aladin


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Lamhaa, 2010

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Erasing the memory of past bloopers, Dutt shows up with his trademark swagger and sunglasses, adorning a fashionable keffiyeh underneath his bushy beard to portray a cool and gruff hero-hero in the grim valleys of Kashmir. 


Image: Sanajy Dutt in Lamhaa

Tags: Dutt , Kashmir , Lamhaa

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Chatur Singh Two Star, 2011

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The man's collection of tacky comedies hits and all-time high with both Chatur Singh Two Star and Rascals coming out in quick succession. If this doesn't embarrass, nothing will.


Image: Sanjay Dutt in Chatur Singh Two Star


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Agneepath, 2012

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Oh but look how he redeems himself? In a reboot about the hero, his ferociously bald and unabashedly ruthless Kancha Cheena, boosted by an equally spiteful Rishi Kapoor's Rauf Lala, call the shots to make Agneepath the entertainment it is. 


Image: Sanjay Dutt in Agneepath


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Son of Sardaar, 2012

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Ajay Devgn and Dutt reunite after the debacle of Rascals in yet another comedy, Son of Sardaar, which has our man playing the kind of protective brother Devgn just portrayed in Bol Bachchan.

Grimace, yes? Don't. With Dutt, you never know. And that's what makes him deadly.



Image: Sanjay Dutt in Son of Sardaar


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