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How a letter from Sunil Dutt was like a ‘divine intervention’ for Paresh Rawal to sign Sanju

On Sunil Dutt's 90th birth anniversary, Paresh Rawal talks about playing the legendary actor in Sanju and the interesting story which resurrected his belief that the role was meant for him in the Rajkumar Hirani directorial.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
Updated: June 28, 2018 11:54:55 am
Paresh Rawal Sunil Dutt Sanju film Paresh Rawal will be portraying the role of Ranbir Kapoor’s father aka Sunil Dutt in Sanju.

Paresh Rawal can turn any character into gold. The iconic actor will be soon getting into the shoes of another legend – Sunil Dutt, in one of the 2018’s most awaited films, Sanju. The Sanjay Dutt biopic, starring Ranbir Kapoor in the titular role has been directed by Rajkumar Hirani and Rawal plays Dutt senior. While fans are raving about the perfect casting of the film, Rawal has a different story to tell about what unfolded when he was offered the much-anticipated role.

In an exclusive chat with, Paresh Rawal tells us how it was no less than a divine intervention that he was approached to play Sunil Dutt’s part.

“On May 25, 2005, I was shooting for a movie and I called up home to say that I will be late today. And during the shooting, we got to know that Dutt Sahab (Sunil Dutt) has passed away, so I called up my wife and said I will come a bit late because Dutt Sahab has passed away and I am going to his house. She then told me that there is a letter for you from him (Sunil Dutt). I asked her what the letter was and she said it is for wishing you a happy birthday. I told her that my birthday is on May 30, which is five days away but she said the letter is for you and she even read it to me. I was so surprised. Why would Dutt Sahab send me a birthday letter five days before my birthday? And we have never exchanged any holiday greetings in the past – be it Diwali or Christmas – so why would he write to me?,” Rawal shared.

Paresh Rawal and Ranbir Kapoor in Sanju Paresh Rawal with his onscreen son Ranbir Kapoor in a still from Sanju.

An equally surprised Paresh Rawal further added, “On January 3, 2017, I asked my wife to take out a couple of my documents as I was going to meet Rajkumar Hirani. I told her I will pick up those documents when I come back. When I was sitting with Rajkumar Hirani, my wife called me and said that along with the documents, that letter from Sunil Dutt Sahab was also there. She asked me what I wanted to do about it? And I was stunned as I was narrated the part of Sunil Dutt for the movie.”

Suggesting that it was nothing less than a ‘divine intervention’ of sorts, Rawal said, “See, usually you don’t keep birthday cards for 12 years, you discard them. You forget about them, but that letter was there with all my important documents and it was again found on the same day Rajkumar Hirani narrated the Sanju role to me. It is like a divine intervention. I showed that letter to Rajkumar Hirani later.”

Paresh Rawal and Sunil Dutt starred in Rajkumar Kohli’s Virodhi, though they did not share screen space.

Also read | Paresh Rawal confirms Narendra Modi biopic: It will be a hugely challenging role

Sanju also stars Sonam Kapoor, Dia Mirza, Vicky Kaushal, Manisha Koirala and Boman Irani. It is set to release on June 29.

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