Remembering Bollywood’s legendary actor Sunil Dutt, on his 11th death anniversary today.1,024 views
Sunil Dutt was catapulted to stardom in 1957 in the epic, Oscar-nominated movie Mother India, playing a rebel son who picks up a gun to win justice for his family. He later became a Congress politician and minister for sport and youth affairs.
Dutt was born into a Hindu family in the Punjabi village of Khurd, now in Pakistan on June 26,1929. His father died when he was five, and with thepartition of India in 1947, his family became refugees at Ambala, in the northern Indian state of Haryana.
He was educated at the Jai Hind College, Mumbai. Via his first job, producing Radio Ceylon programmes for an English advertising agency, he got the contacts which enabled him to break into the local film world.
His movie debut was as the male lead in Railway Platform (1955). It was not a hit, but then came Mehboob Khan’s Mother India, which proved a personal landmark. While shooting a fire sequence, Dutt’s glamorous co-star, Nargis, became trapped in piles of burning hay. In true romantic hero style, he rescued her, and they married soon after.
After Mother India, Dutt rode a wave of stardom. Never losing his Punjabi accent, he created an unpretentious style that appealed to the urban middle class. He reached his movie peak with Gumrah (1963), Waqt (1963) and Humraaz (1967). He also proved himself a talented comic actor, playing a stupid lover in Padosan (1965).
Turning to producing, Dutt set up a production house, Ajanta Arts. His first film was a bandit drama, Mujhe Jeene Do (Let Me Live, 1963), in which he played the male lead. Next came his directorial debut, the offbeat Yaadein (Memories, 1964), featuring a single character, played by himself. The work was acclaimed by discerning audiences. Four other films followed.
Then, tragedy struck. Dutt was about to launch his son, Sanjay, into the film business, with Rocky (1981), under his own direction, when his wife, Nargis, died of cancer. This took Dutt away from films, and he turned to social work and, eventually, politics. He also set up the Nargis Dutt Foundation to help cancer patients and the poor.
Sunil Dutt passed away on May 25, 2005.