The Telegraph
Monday , March 25 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Odia film fraternity stands in support of Munnabhai

- Most actors condemn jail verdict for Sanjay Dutt, say he is a changed man

Bhubaneswar, March 24: There is growing support in the Odia film fraternity for Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who was sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment by the Supreme Court in connection with the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.

The actor, convicted of possessing illegal arms supplied by gangsters, who carried out the terror attack killing 257 people, has already served 18 months in jail.

Odia actor Sabyasachi Mishra said he was an ardent fan of Dutt and would not like to see him behind bars. “He has entertained film lovers for over three decades, especially in his Munnabhai avatar. Twenty years ago, he acted in a youthful rush and has been repenting for it ever since. I feel he is a changed man now and is no more a threat to national security,” said Sabyasachi. He suggested that the court, instead of sending him to prison, could ask him to do some community service like planting a thousand trees across Mumbai.

Sabyasachi’s sentiments were echoed by film actor-cum-television anchor Buddhaditya Mohanty. He said the judicial system ought to be more “sensitive” and “humane” towards not only Dutt but also commoners who do certain things in the spur of the moment.

“He did what he did because he had received threats that his family would be harmed. The Damocles’ sword has been hanging over his head for 20 long years. He has suffered enough. Don’t treat Sanjay Dutt as a trophy just because he is a celebrity. Why doesn’t the law catch hold of those politicians and criminals who carry illegal weapons,” said Buddhaditya.

Actress Anu Choudhury and veteran actor-turned-director Prashant Nanda are also in favour of Dutt’s sentence being commuted. “The Supreme Court must have taken the minimum evidence into account while passing its judgment. However, I feel Sanjay Dutt’s prison term should be reduced further. His life has been a long struggle and he should not be made to suffer anymore,” said Anu. Terming the sentence “harsh”, Nanda said the man who spread a wave of compassion and brotherhood across the country with his Munnabhai films did not deserve to be behind bars.

“Being a part of the film industry, I was deeply saddened by the court’s order. It could have taken a sympathetic view. How can you send a reformed man to jail again? I know his family personally and I can feel their pain,” added the director. There were also some voices of dissent. Actor Akash Das Nayak said: “The law is same for everyone, irrespective of your social or economic status. If you compromise the nation’s security, it is but natural that you would be punished.”