Thursday, May 26, 2005

RIP, Mr Dutt

Dutt saab

"Disease and suffering have no religion and no nationality. My work encompasses mankind." Sunil Dutt

I have not watched all his classics. I never met him. I have no idea about the full extent of his charitable work. Yet, I feel sorry that he is no more. Sunil Dutt's genteel face gave it all away. He was many things in that towering six-plus frame -- a thorough gentleman, an iconic movie star, a great human being and a secularist to the core, up until his sudden end. Frankly, Dutt Saab, as he was affectionately called, was one of those virtuous souls, who you wish never die.

What also stood Sunil Dutt in good stead was his heart-in-his-eyes sensitivity which noted filmmakers like Bimal Roy, B R Chopra and Raj Khosla repeatedly drew upon. Dutt capitalised on his abilty to jump genres and expand on his oeuvre at different stages of his career. His willingness to experiment with cinema led him to star in offbeat films like Padosan and Amrapali, be the villain in Geeta Mera Naam, and bankroll films like Yaadein ,a film starring just one man --- himself, Mujhe Jeene Do -- a reformist saga -- and the stark desert epic Reshma Aur Shera.

Dutt's heroic deed on the set of Mother India changed the course of his life. He saved Nargis from a burning film set and later they got married in what is considered one of the great storybook romances of Bollywood history. After making an indelible mark on the filmdom in Bombay and having etched his name in the golden annals of India cinema, Dutt saab took to activism. The death of his wife, Nargis Dutt in 1981, whom he loved intensely, transformed his life. He fought for the rights of the poor. It was Nargis's wish that cancer research be forwarded in India and to that effect Dutt spearheaded the creation of the Nargis Dutt Cancer Foundation.

He became a Member of Parliament and advocated peace. Again he brought a serene dignity to politics, quite unknown of, in recent times. He campaigned for communal harmony, against drug abuse and for better care for cancer and HIV and AIDS patients.

Selfless, tireless and humane, that was Sunil Dutt for those who have know him. For me, he will continue to be among the select few Indians, I admire.

He loved Nargis till lady death kissed him in his sleep. I pray they -- Nargis and Dutt saab -- stroll together, hand in hand, in the gardens of heaven.

Sameer Bhat

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