Sanjay Dutt’s release from prison after he served out his five-year jail term in two instalments of 18 and 42 months spells great happiness for the actor’s immediate family as well as the larger one of Bollywood. His case has been paradoxical — while his conviction, first under TADA and then the Arms Act, proved no one is above the law, the process of his serving his prison term showed that some are more equal than others in the enforcing of rules and regulations.
The actor, who has played some robust roles, including those of a mafia don and a quack doctor, may have been misguided in consorting with known members of D-Company, but he seems to have lived through a period of genuine repentance for his presumptive behaviour before and after the Mumbai riots of 1993.
The ease with which he obtained furlough and parole from jail, and the felicity with which he extended time off from incarceration on quite a few occasions, prompted extreme reactions to the lack of equity in dealing with those who have run afoul of the law. The reason for his obtaining an AK-47 rifle seemed an absurd overkill.
Throughout his trials and subsequent confirmation and reduction of his sentence, Bollywood seemed more transfixed with the financial implications of his movie projects. His being in jail had to do with real issues, like a celebrity acting in a cavalier manner. Also, his charisma should not have determined the course of events in his case and his conviction, but in regretting his action “Munna Bhai” has at least shown that there is space for redemption in life.