Bollywood Buzz

Rajkumar Hirani directs Sanjay Dutt inside the jail

Together, they created one of Hindi cinema’s most enduring characters in Munnabhai. On Tuesday, ace director Raju Hirani was directing one of his favourite actors yet again–but under rather unusual circumstances.

At the behest of Yerwada jail superintendent, Yogesh Desai, Hirani was asked to supervise the play ‘Teemiratun…Tejakade’ (From darkness to light) to be performed by 20 jail inmates at Bal Gandharva Auditorium on September 26. The star of the bilingual play is one Hirani is all too familiar with.

Sanjay Dutt, serving a jail term after his conviction in the 1993 Mumbai blasts under the Arms Act, may have lost a lot of weight–prompting the director to remark that he was looking fitter than he has been in his recent screen outings—but has clearly not lost any of his star appeal going by his entry on the makeshift proscenium within the jail. Dutt performs a one-act skit within the play, and in keeping with his status as a Bollywood star, two dance numbers as well.

Hirani who shares a deep friendship with Dutt flew in from Delhi where he is scheduled to shoot ‘P.K.’ with Aamir Khan (Dutt too shot for the film before his arrest). Sources inside the jail told this newspaper that jail authorities were keen to get the play fine-tuned by a top-notch director and approached Dutt for suggestions. Even though he gave Hirani’s name, the star, all unshaven and broody, was surprised to see his old friend on Tuesday and became teary-eyed as Raju got in the director’s chair. A quick word with all the actors, many of whom are serving life sentence, Hirani got down to brasstacks, suggesting a few changes in the staging of the play that deals with alcoholism and yes, even Gandhism.

In fact, the song from Lage Raho, their second Munnabhai film, Bande mein tha dum, has also been incorporated in the play directed by Rahul Solapurkar. For a good part of the next two hours, Hirani worked with the actors, often going up on the stage to correct postures and body language.

After a strenuous rehearsal, it was time for costume trials. By late evening Hirani headed out of the jail to catch a flight to Delhi. All in a day’s work.


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