The Telegraph
Friday , March 22 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Breakdown and flashback
Sanjay sobs, Maanyata takes charge

Priya Dutt at the Supreme Court after the verdict on Thursday. Picture by Yasir Iqbal

Mumbai, March 21: Sanjay Dutt’s wife was prepared for the Supreme Court verdict that ordered him back to jail today.

“Maanyata was expecting this sentence and had prepared herself. She had even told Sanjay to be prepared for a harsh sentence,” an aide of the actor told The Telegraph minutes after the verdict.

“She is a very gutsy person. She had told Sanju she would be strong and take care of their twins if he went to jail. They would often talk about it.”

Bollywood’s Munnabhai was less stoic: he broke down when sister Priya and lawyer Satish Maneshinde texted him the news from Delhi.

Maanyata has told her friends she will wait out her husband’s time in jail and that she expects him to get a remission for good behaviour.

“She has decided to make sure that Sanju’s production house stays afloat during the time,” the aide said.

“She had felt she might not be able to celebrate their wedding anniversary with him the next few years; so she planned a surprise for him (on their anniversary last February 7) and flew to Jaipur to join him on the outdoor schedule of Raju Hirani’s film Peekay. She took their kids along.”

In Jaipur, Maanyata treated Sanjay’s entire unit to Mughlai and Chinese food ordered from a leading Delhi-based caterer. Aamir Khan, Sanjay’s co-star in the film, and his wife Kiran Rao were so moved by the couple’s efforts to make the event special that they ordered a three-tier cake for the two.

“Sanju, in his flamboyant way, cut the cake with a sword. Maanyata and he were deliriously happy,” the aide said.

Today, Maanyata controlled her emotions well. “She was consoling and pepping up Sanju and talking to their industry friends who began trooping in after the news of the verdict broke,” the aide said.

When Priya called her brother in the morning, the actor had been inconsolable, said a source close to Priya.

“He sobbed like a baby and his sister tried to console him. Her voice was choking but she held back her tears and told him their late father would have wanted to see him strong,” the source said.

Priya, a Congress MP from Mumbai, had been by Sanjay’s side in courtrooms and jails since the actor was arrested for procuring arms ahead of the 1993 Mumbai blasts. Those days, Priya and her elder sister Namrata would take turns bringing him home food in jail.

Priya would often accompany her father, actor turned politician Sunil Dutt, to meetings with lawyers or politicians and would learn the nuances of law and realpolitik from the interactions.

A photograph of father Sunil Dutt hangs in the background as police officers enter the residence of Sanjay Dutt in Mumbai on Thursday. (AP)

This morning, Priya had broken down in front of the TV cameras. “I just don’t want to say anything,” she had pleaded with reporters outside the Supreme Court and rushed into her car.

“She called Sanju from inside her car,” the family source said. “She was shattered but went on speaking to him softly, asking him to be brave.”

Priya asked Sanjay to pass the phone to her husband Owen Roncon, a businessman who was by the actor’s side in Mumbai at the time. “She asked Owen to console Sanjay and take care of him,” the source said.

The siblings had been estranged after Sanjay married Maanyata but there was gradual reconciliation after the birth of Sanjay’s twins in October 2010.

“Over the past few months, as the day of the verdict neared, the family had come together. They posed for pictures as a clan and spent time together. Today, Namrata, Kumar Gaurav and Roncon were with Sanju and Maanyata at the couple’s apartment while Priya was at the Supreme Court with a battery of lawyers,” the family source said.