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Sanjay DuttSanjay Dutt sentenced to six years in prison
31st July 2007  14.54 IST
By Agencies  

Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt was today sentenced to six years in prison for his conviction under the Arms Act.

The sentence is another challenge in tempestuous life of the dashing Dutt.

Drug addiction, losing a parent and a wife to cancer and spending time in jail after his arrest in the 1993 serial blasts case - one would have thought Dutt had faced all the upheavals that life had in store for him.

But today, as he faced Judge P D Kode in a crowded courtroom, all his past struggles must have come rushing back to the 48-year-old actor as he was given a six-year jail term for his conviction under the Arms Act.

Right from the time he made his debut in films with 'Rocky' as a lanky 22-year-old in 1981, Dutt has been in the news more for his tryst with drugs, his two marriages, (to Richa Sharma who died of a brain tumour and model Rhea Pillai, whom he divorced) and his role in the 1993 serial blasts case for which he spent 18 months in jail.

The image of a stringy haired, haggard-looking Dutt emerging from Arthur Road Jail with his father Sunil Dutt became one of the defining images of the coverage of the case. From then on, Dutt's life was inextricably linked to the case.

Once out of jail, he tried to resurrect his flagging career, appearing in hits like Vaastav and the hugely successful Lage Raho Munnabhai .

But the trial and its likely ending was always on his mind, as he has confessed to close friends many a time.

In November last year, Dutt was convicted in the case for the illegal possession of a 9mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle but absolved of more serious terrorism charges under TADA -- a development Dutt has taken great solace from, especially after the judge said in the court that he was not a terrorist.

Dutt's career had taken off in recent years and the Munnabhai series cemented his position as one of Bollywood's most bankable stars with a fan following that rivals that of the Khans and the Bachchans.

A lot of the goodwill that Dutt has managed to garner in and outside the film industry was largely due to the goodwill that his father Sunil Dutt enjoyed.

Even his release from jail in 1994 is largely credited to the fact that Sunil Dutt met Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, whose party was part of the state government at the time.

Today, as he faces a prison term, Dutt will have a lot of people to thank for his last decade of freedom, most of all his late father, who always stood by his sometimes misguided son.

Priya and Namrata and Dutt's brother-in-law Kumar Gaurav were permanent fixtures by his side in all his trips to the TADA court, and it is perhaps this unwavering support from his family that gave him the strength to face the ordeal.

Though Dutt has always maintained that he was innocent and had kept the AK-56 rifle to protect his family in the wake of the sectarian violence that erupted in Mumbai after the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992, it could not have been easy for him to live up with the tag of a convict.

But then Dutt has said he has always taken life as it comes.

Be that as it may, today's sentencing has brought the curtain down on one of the most prolonged struggles in Dutt's life.

Sanjay Dutt
Sunil Dutt
Lage Raho Munnabhai
Kumar Gaurav

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