Things would have remained on the sets had it not been for Madhuri’s decision to surprise her love by turning up on location.’
‘Reports sprang up of how Madhuri walked in on the two of them in a compromising position, and walked out — but not before giving them a piece of her mind.’
‘She did not care to walk back into Sanjay’s life again.’
In Sanjay Dutt: One Man, Many Lives, Ram Kamal Mukerjee provides glimpses of the complex life of Sanjay Dutt, who turns 60 on July 29.
He reportedly had a fling with the supermodel-turned-actor, Lisa Ray. Although Lisa has always denied the involvement, the two of them were often spotted together.
After the Lisa-Madhuri phase came Rhea Pillai, a relationship that lasted between 1993 and 2005.
There were rumours that one of the reasons why Sanjay Dutt wanted to divorce Richa Sharma was that he was serious about Madhuri.
In an interview with Stardust, he made a strong case for his loyalty towards his ailing wife.
‘I have filed for divorce, na? I don’t know anything about it. All I know is that I am going to the States in sometime to visit my wife and daughter. So how am I marrying Madhuri? All this may be ok for me, but it’s doing Madhuri a lot of harm. She is a lovely person from a good family.’
But he also acknowledged that they had ‘terrific chemistry’ on-screen.
How was the reigning queen of the marquee responding to this ‘affair’? There were reports that Madhuri, who was known to be reserved, had transformed radically after meeting Sanjay. She was more accessible and looked happy. She seemed to have found joy beyond the camera and lights.
It’s interesting that Madhuri, who has worked with everyone — Aamir Khan, Jackie Shroff, Vinod Khanna — over the years, would share such crackling chemistry with Sanjay.
On the face of it, the two had very little in common. Madhuri came from a very middle class suburban Mumbai family. She had no sense of entitlement or privileges and had worked her way up the stardom ladder.
And then happened Thanedaar, and suddenly she seemed to have a lot to share with her controversial co-star.
The initial days of exchanging pleasantries soon gave way to more substantial interactions, and their bond grew stronger.
Sanjay may not have had a clue about where she was coming from, but certainly knew where she was and where she wanted to be.
Negotiating stardom and the loneliness that came with it, and dealing with a fragile heart — these shared life experiences brought the two top stars closer.
A standard practice in film journalism — of the Indian kind — is to ascribe controversial quotes to ‘friends of stars’ and ‘sources.’ Especially when the stars wish for certain information to be circulated in the media but wish to distance themselves from it. The practice serves well to couch speculation and hearsay in a veil of authenticity.
In the alleged Sanjay-Madhuri love affair, reports emerged of how the two stars were gushing about each other to their ‘close friends’. Labels and adjectives flew thick and fast: ‘Affectionate and caring man’ and ‘gorgeous and wonderful human being’ among them.
When they were both in Bombay or shooting together, the stars would meet. But when one of them had to go out of station for a location shoot, the long phone calls began.
While shooting for Sadak in Ooty, Sanjay spoke to Madhuri every day. The unit members witnessed these long-distance calls that went on for hours. This was way before the first mobile phone reached India.
When they were shooting in two different continents — Sanjay in London, shooting for J P Dutta’s Kshatriya and Madhuri in Nairobi, shooting for Rakesh Roshan’s Khel — they embarked on long international calls.
The intense relationship was beginning to show in Madhuri’s career choices. Despite her successful pairing with Aamir Khan in Dil, Madhuri seemed disinterested in leveraging it.
She chose another film with Sanjay instead and the two of them signed a number of films together — Saajan, Saahibaan, Mahaanta. Being cast together would mean they would get to see more of each other. The whole industry was abuzz.
Not enough is known about what really went wrong in this relationship between the two reigning stars of the time, even though certain things were obvious.
In Sanjay’s own words, ‘There was a certain magic in Saajan, Sahibaan and Khalnayak. Mahaanta, our last film together was a disaster because halfway through, MD (Madhuri Dixit) and I stopped talking. Naturally, the film was completed under stress.’
Madhuri, after she moved on, resurrected her career, got married to US-based doctor Shriram Nene and moved to the US, has always refused to talk about her relationship with Sanjay.
But why was Madhuri so averse to talking about the relationship that was playing itself out in public?
This denial first came to light when Dutt was in prison for the first time. Tremors were felt in the film industry when Madhuri reportedly severed her ties during this time.
The public outrage over what many regarded as an injustice to Sanjay was enormous, but what upset people even more was Madhuri’s inexplicable behaviour — the perception that she had turned her back on her alleged lover.
After months of a roaring affair, she did not visit Sanjay in jail even once, or attempt to contact him.
For all intent and purposes, Madhuri just didn’t seem to care about what happened to her Sanjay one way or the other.
This, from someone who was believed to be keen to get married to him. Her refusal to stand by the man who had, till then, had such a strong presence in her life, did not cast her in a favourable light.
But one must consider that traditionally, Hindi film heroines have much shorter shelf lives than the men. They are judged more often and their careers are much more vulnerable to gossip and accidents.
Madhuri knew at the time that she had barely a few years to go to make the most of her influence and success at the box office. And she could, in no way, swap that with being dragged indirectly into a case that involved terror links, arms and a man whose reputation was scarred forever.
It is one thing to romance a guy who has had stints with drugs and a troubled childhood, but was always an A-list actor. It is quite a different story to be linked with a man who has had established terror links and went to prison because of it.
Rumours, especially the swirling tabloid reports, say that when Sanjay attempted to talk to Madhuri over the phone while he was in jail, she allegedly banged the phone down the minute she heard his voice.
But there is more to this break up than the shadow of the underworld
According to ‘sources’ again, the story behind the breakup of the glamorous couple went back a couple of months or more, before the date of Sanjay’s arrest.
It was in Ooty, during the shooting of Sajid Nadiadwala’s Andolan, where Sanjay’s co-star was Somy Ali, who allegedly had a crush on him.
Somy was also reportedly having an affair with Salman Khan at that time, and it was unlikely that she would rekindle her romantic interest in Sanjay, who was obviously seeing Madhuri.
But something happened.
And the two stars, far away from prying eyes, in the salubrious environment of the picturesque hill station, reportedly got close.
Things would have remained on the sets had it not been for Madhuri’s decision to surprise her love by turning up on location.
Reports sprang up from the set of the film of how Madhuri walked in on the two of them in a compromising position, and walked out — but not before giving them a piece of her mind.
She did not care to walk back into Sanjay’s life again.
Sachin Khedekar, Sharad Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt and Shakti Kapoor on the sets of Hathyar.
Some more pictures…