Born in Khurd village in Jhelum district, now in Pakistan, on June 6, 1930, Balraj (Sunil) Dutt lost his father Diwan Raghunath Dutt when he was five and his mother Kulwantidevi Dutt at 23. In consideration of his mother’s wishes, Dutt first completed his education and then did his maiden film ‘Railway Platform’ in 1955 with Johnny Walker and Nalini Jaywant as co-stars, directed by Ramesh Saigal.
Dutt acted in scores of hit films such as ‘Gumraah’, ‘Waqt’, ‘Humraaz’, ‘Khandaan’, ‘Milan’ and ‘Reshma Aur Shera’ . But, it was Mehboob Khan’s epic ‘Mother India’ in 1956 which catapulted him to stardom and helped Dutt to tie the nuptial knot with Nargis.
Nargis and Sunil Dutt’s love story is nothing less than a fairy tale. Sunil Dutt and Nargis first met on the sets of Do Bigha Zamin in the mid-1950s. Nargis was apparently in love with Raj Kapoor at that time, who was married to Krishna Kapoor. Eventually, Raj Kapoor and Nargis went their separate ways. Reportedly, Nargis Dutt was devastated over the whole affair. Gradually, Sunil Dutt and Nargis fell for each other. Since the duo had played mother-son in ‘Mother India’, tying the knot then was not possible. The two tied the knot in secret in 1958 but kept their marriage under wraps till the next year.
In 1981, Sunil Dutt directed ‘Rocky’ which marked the debut of his son Sanjay. It also starred Reena Roy, Tina Munim, Amjad Khan, Raakhee, Shakti Kapoor and Aruna Irani.
After his wife’s death, Sunil Dutt immersed himself in politics. A five-time MP, Dutt contested his first Lok Sabha election on a Congress ticket in 1984. Winning the Mumbai North West seat in his maiden attempt, he retained it in the 1989 and 1991 elections. He did not contest the 1996 and 1998 elections as he was preoccupied with a case against his son Sanjay.
Dutt became a Union Minister for the first time in his over two decades of political career when former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave him the Sports and Youth Affairs portfolio in 2004.
He, however, continued his acting stint and worked with a few select filmmakers like J P Dutta (Kshatriya), Yash Chopra (Parampara) and Rajkumar Hirani (Munna Bhai M.B.B.S). The actor died of heart attack on May 25, 2005, at his residence in Mumbai.