Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who walked out as a free man from jail today, told reporters that it was the most amazing feeling to be ‘free after 23 years’.
Munnabhai actor, who has had a busy day since morning, said he was missing his father and late actor Sunil Dutt the most on this day of complete freedom. Sanjay Dutt hugs twins Iqra, Shahraan, see pics
Sanjay Dutt, who was wearing white kurta, jeans with tilak on his forehead, said he was happy to be free after 23 long years.
“To be free is the most amazing feeling. For 23 years I have been waiting for this moment… for freedom. I did everything (followed the law). It’s a feeling that will take a while to sink in. I miss my father today,” said a smiling Sanjay Dutt. (Sanjay Dutt reaches Mumbai, visits Siddhivinayak with wife Maanyata, see pics)
“I miss my father (Sunil Dutt) today. I wish he was alive to see this day…if he would have been (alive), he would have been the happiest person,” he said.
Putting behind the torrid times since his conviction in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, Sanjay Dutt today walked out a free man from the Yerawada Central prison here after being granted remission in his five-year sentence.
On being asked why did he salute the tri-colour atop the Yerwada prison building and bent to touch the soil immediately after stepping out, he said: “I am proud to be an Indian, that is why I kissed the earth and saluted the tricolour when I came out.”
Talking about his wife Maanyata, he said she has suffered the most and called her is ‘best half.’
“Whenever I was getting weak, she was my pillar of strength. I think she suffered more than me as she had to look after two kids, bring them up, take decisions,” said Sanjay Dutt.
“She is not my better half, but my best half. Manyata is my strength,” said Sanjay Dutt as he held his wife’s hand who stood behind him during the press conference.
When asked about his earnings in jail, Dutt said in a lighter vein, “Like a good husband I gave all the money to my wife.”
He said now he would like to spend quality time with his family and near and dear ones. “I would like to spend time with my family and kids now.”
On his arrival from Pune, Sanjay Dutt offered prayers at Siddhivinayak and later paid a visit to his mother Nargis’ grave.
“She (Dutt’s mother) passed away when we were very small. I went to seek her blessings as I am a free man today,” he said.
Sanjay Dutt told reporters that he learned small jobs like making paper bags and entertained other prisoners by spending time as a radio jockey while in prison. He said he plans to spend his time looking after his family and working in films.
When asked about Justice P D Kode having absolved him of the terror tag and conspiracy in the blasts case, he said, “The court had said I am not a terrorist. That was a big thing. I wish my father was alive to hear this. Even the Supreme Court had endorsed it.”
On the criticism over he being granted remission and the furloughs availed by him while serving the sentence, Dutt said, “It’s a misconception (that he got preferential treatment for leaves). It has nothing to do with me being a celebrity as I was also not allowed to do many things. May be, it (celebrity status) went against me.”
When asked how was his last day in jail yesterday, the actor said he did not sleep and he even did not have food for the last four days. “I was like I will be out of jail…not come here again (jail).”
To a question on actor Ranbir Kapoor doing a biopic on him, he said, “I love him.”
Sanjay also said that he made friends in the jail. “I made some friends in the jail. They all love and respect me,” he said.
During the interaction with media, Manyata said the feeling that Sanjay Dutt is back home, is yet to sink-in her.
“I need some space and time to digest the fact that he has come back home now,” she said.
Sanjay Dutt had surrendered in May 2013 after the apex court upheld his conviction by a special court here for possession of arms and ammunitions which was part of the consignment used in the 1993 serial bomb blasts.
During the investigation and the marathon trial, he spent 18 months in jail. On July 31, 2007, the TADA court in Mumbai sentenced him to six years’ rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000.
In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling but reduced the sentence to five years, following which he surrendered to serve the remainder of his sentence.
During his imprisonment, Dutt was granted parole of 90 days in December 2013 and again for 30 days later.
His release today is 103 days ahead of the end of his full prison term. (With PTI inputs)