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1999-The year that belonged to Sanjay Dutt

The year 1999 was very significant in the career of Sanjay Dutt. Not only all his films were hits but also received his first-ever Filmfare ...

The year 1999 was very significant in the career of Sanjay Dutt. Not only all his films were hits but also received his first-ever Filmfare award as a best actor. What defined Sanju Baba this year was that all his characters were as different as chalk and cheese and he not only excelled in them but also won back a lot of the audience who had stayed away from his films in the late 90s. Most of his films were flopping right, left, and centre. But as always, the Deadly Dutt rose like a phoenix and shut all his naysayers by delivering not one but 5 hits in 1999 with only one film - a delayed SAFARI directed by Jyotin Goel (a rip off of CROCODILE DUNDEE) which didn't do well at the BO.

DAAG-THE FIRE directed by Raj Kanwar was a remake of REGARDING HENRY (1991). The film had Dutt essaying the role of an army man who comes to seek revenge for his dead honest father (Shivaji Satam) who had committed suicide on a false case heralded by a corrupt politician (Raj Babbar) and his equally corrupt lawyer son-in-law (Chandrachud Singh). Sanju was to make a special appearance in the film, but the distributors were not buying the film hence Sanju became the focal point with a song picturized on him as well-'Lucky Kabootar' which proved really 'lucky' for Baba, Kanwar, and the distributors.

The David Dhawan directorial laughton HASEENA MAAN JAYEGI (a rehash of the Kishore Kumar-Shashi Kapoor-Mehmood cult classic PYAR KIYE JAA) rocked the box office. The lead pair of Sanjay Dutt-Govinda (they were to follow up with two other hits directed by David again in subsequent years - JODI NO. 1 & EK AUR EK GYARAH) were lapped up by the audience. The film boasted of good music (Anu Malik) and a brilliant performance by Govinda as Monu. But as Sonu, Sanju also gave a more restrained and straight-in-your-face comic performance.

Mahesh Bhatt (who had a big hand in shaping Sanjay Dutt's return after drug addiction saga with a career-defining NAAM) remade POINT OF NO RETURN as KARTOOS, where ACP Jai Suryavanshi (Jackie Shroff) trains a criminal Jeet Balraj (Sanjay Dutt) to eliminate the underworld, don Jagat Jogia (Gulshan Grover). The female lead opposite Sanju was played by Manisha Koirala. Incidentally, Sanju-Jackie-Manisha came together again for Sanjay's home production PRASTHANAM 20 years later! KARTOOS was the last hurrah for Mahesh Bhatt who hung his boots as director but was cajoled into a comeback with SADAK 2.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee's cult classic and lovable BAWARCHI was adapted by Sanjay Chhel as KHOOBSURAT (again the name of another Hrishida classic starring Rekha) where Sanju (his screen name too) plays the loveable rogue with a heart of gold. Sanju has to make money to save himself and an orphan from the hands of Jogia Seth (Paresh Rawal). Sanju impersonates himself as a distant relative of the Chaudharys and lands up in their place only to find himself amidst a dysfunctional family. He also falls in love with Shivani (Urmila Matondkar) the daughter of Dilip (Om Puri) the eldest of the Chaudhury brothers. The film introduces Sanjay Dutt as a singer 'Aye Shivani' which became an instant hit along with the title song 'Bahut khoobsurat ho" and 'Mera ek sapna' making the film another hit for Dutt.

But the grand finale came in the form of the brilliant VAASTAV-THE REALITY directed by Mahesh Manjrekar. Here Sanjay Dutt as Raghu, an ordinary chawl resident, rises to become a dreaded gangster Raghu bhai. His dialogue of 'pachaas tola' has become a cult dialogue today and the climax wherein the mother played by the late Reema Lagoo shoots her 'ill' son Raghu so that the latter can attain 'mukti' became the highlight of the film with the teary-eyed audience giving it a standing ovation. The film had shades of Nargis' MOTHER INDIA and Amitabh Bachchan's DEEWAAR. Sanjay Dutt received the Filmfare award for Best Actor. He mentioned during the award ceremony 'Bees saal baad mila toh sahi'. VAASTAV is a landmark film of Sanjay Dutt wherein his diehard fans and even the not-so-ones raise a toast to him whenever VAASTAV is mentioned.

Sanjay Dutt continues to enthrall his fans and his audience even today after 44 years of battling his drug addiction, jail terms, and his recent lung cancer shock. He is truly a superstar and an eternal fighter.

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