Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sanjay Dutt: Only 'Bhai', not Munna

I sit and wonder what is it that the TV news channels take us for? Are they really here to do social good, as they constantly keep proclaiming? At times I think, yes. Then incidents happen that completely change my opinion on the noble channels. Two incidents are standing out, and both involve Sanjay Dutt. The honourable court has already pronounced that Sanjay Dutt is guilty of possessing illegal arms. In short, the bollywood actor is a criminal. But the media seems to be trying so damn hard to ensure that he gets away scot-free.

The two instances that I am talking off occurred once on CNN-IBN and the next is about to appear (or has appeared, not sure because I read the transcripts on the net) on NDTV 24X7. Before the judge pronounced Sanjay Dutt guilty or not guilty in the Mumbai bomb blasts case, Karan Thapar had interviewed him on his program Devil’s Advocate. There the actor tried to build up so much sympathy for himself, talking about his dead father, about the good work he does so on and so forth. One felt that he was trying to influence the judiciary using the media. Now, I just read the transcripts of his interview with Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV. Not surprising, the interview has come about just about when the honourable court is about to hand down the sentence to Sanjay Dutt.

The actor has said the same things. ‘God is great, I love my country, I respect the court, I work for a cancer foundation’ etc., etc. Jain asked Dutt if he was favourably treated. Come on!! He is being treated extremely favourably by the media, for sure. I might even go thus far and say that the media is trying to build a sympathy wave for Sanjay Dutt. It happened when the judge was about to pronounce him guilty. The media raked up stories of him being ‘Munnabhai’, a person with a heart of gold. Are they so na├»ve that they do not realize that the on-screen persona is rarely what the person is off-screen? Some of his colleagues of Bollywood even proclaimed, and the news channels shamelessly carried the stories, that Sanjay is ACTUALLY like Munnabhai. The role that he played in the two wonderfully entertaining movies has, in some way, seeped into the real Sanjay Dutt and that Munnabhai was not a fictitious character, it was the convict.

What a sham! If real life influences a screen image and vice-versa, why can’t we look at it this way? If Sanjay Dutt was Munna, then he also was the person he portrayed in Vaastav. In fact, he is closer to his character in Vaastav. In reel life and real life, Sanjay Dutt was an errant child/person, he was a druggie, and he possessed illegal arms. Why don’t his friends draw a parallel to that Sanjay and not confine themselves to Munnabhai? And why does the media not highlight this part of Sanjay Dutt’s life, when he is about to be sentenced? If they can bring out favourable stories about this villain, they can jolly well remind the people and the courts that possessing illegal arms to use upon his own countrymen is not the only blot on this super-star’s canvas.

The minimum sentence for Sanjay Dutt’s offence is 3-years’ imprisonment and a maximum of 10 years. The person who supplied Sanjay Dutt with the AK-56, Samir Hingora, has been awarded 9-years’ rigorous imprisonment. The person who removed the rifle from Dutt’s place, Dhakla, has been awarded 10-years’ rigorous imprisonment. It will be a shame if the person who actually possessed these arms is given any less a sentence. It will be disaster if he is let-off on probation. Let’s hope that justice prevails. Unlike Manu Sharma, if Dutt is convicted then it will not be because of the media. It will be despite the media. Why was it so tough for these holier than thou channels to tell the truth, that Sanjay Dutt isn’t Munna, he is simply ‘Bhai’. Jail is the right place for him.

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