Sunil Dutt

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Sunil Dutt
Dutt at his New Delhi office in 2005
Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports
In office
22 May 2004 – 25 May 2005
Prime MinisterManmohan Singh
Preceded byVikram Verma
Succeeded byMani Shankar Aiyar
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
Preceded byRam Jethmalani
Succeeded byMadhukar Sarpotdar
ConstituencyMumbai North West
In office
Preceded byMadhukar Sarpotdar
Succeeded byPriya Dutt
ConstituencyMumbai North West
Personal details
Balraj Dutt

(1929-06-06)6 June 1929
Nakka Khurd, Punjab, British India[1][2]
(in present Punjab, Pakistan)
Died25 May 2005(2005-05-25) (aged 75)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Cause of deathHeart attack
Political partyIndian National Congress
(m. 1958; died 1981)
Children3, including Sanjay Dutt and Priya Dutt
RelativesSee Dutt family
Residence(s)Bandra, West Mumbai
Alma materJai Hind College
  • Actor
  • producer
  • director
  • politician
AwardsPadma Shri (1968)

Sunil Dutt (born Balraj Dutt; 6 June 1929 — 25 May 2005) was an Indian actor, film producer, director and politician.[3]

Dutt debuted with the 1955 Hindi film Railway Platform. He acted in a number of successful films including Ek Hi Raasta (1956), Mother India (1957), Sadhna (1958), Insan Jaag Utha (1959), Sujata (1959), Mujhe Jeene Do (1963), Gumraah (1963), Waqt (1965), Khandan (1965), Mera Saaya (1966), Milan (1967), Mehrban (1967), Hamraaz (1967), Padosan (1968), Heera (1973), Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974), Nagin (1976), Jaani Dushman (1979), Muqabla (1979) and Shaan (1980).

In 1968, he was honoured by the Padma Shri by the Government of India.[4] He is the father of actor Sanjay Dutt.[5]

In 1984 he joined the Indian National Congress party and was elected to the Parliament of India for five terms from the constituency of Mumbai North West.[6] He was the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports in the Manmohan Singh government (2004–2005) and also a former Sheriff of Mumbai.

Early life[edit]

Sunil Dutt was born on 6 June 1929 in Nakka Khurd, Jhelum District, Punjab Province, British India (now in Punjab, Pakistan) into a Hussaini Brahmin family as Balraj Dutt to father Diwan Raghunath Dutt and mother Kulwantidevi Dutt.[1][2][3][7][8] He belonged to a family of landlords.[9] When he was five years old, Dutt's father died. When he was 18, the Partition of India began inciting Hindu-Muslim violence across the country.[9] A Muslim friend of Dutt's father named Yakub, saved their entire family.[10] The family resettled in the small village of Mandauli on the bank of the river Yamuna located in Yamunanagar District, East Punjab, which is now a district in Haryana. Later he moved to Lucknow, United Provinces with his mother, Kulwantidevi Dutt, and spent a long time in the Aminabad Bazaar neighbourhood during graduation. He then moved to Bombay, Bombay State, where he joined Jai Hind College, University of Bombay in Churchgate, South Bombay as an undergraduate and took up a job at the city's BEST Transportation Engineering division.[3][11] He graduated with B.A. (Hons.) in History in 1954.[3][12]

Early career[edit]

Starting out in radio, with his command over the Urdu language, Sunil Dutt was hugely popular on the Hindi service of Radio Ceylon, the oldest radio station in South Asia. He moved to act in Hindi films and got introduced to the industry in 1955's Railway Platform.

Film career[edit]

Actress Nargis tends to an injured Dutt on the sets of their film Mother India (1957) when the location caught fire

Debut and coining of the screen name "Sunil Dutt"[edit]

Director Ramesh Saigal was instrumental in giving Dutt a break in the film Railway Platform (1955) when the latter was hosting the show, Lipton Ki Mehfil on Radio Ceylon.[13] While covering the Dilip Kumar film Shikast in 1953, Dutt met director Saigal, who impressed by his personality and voice, offered him a role in his upcoming film. Saigal came up with the new screen name "Sunil Dutt" for the debutante actor whose real name was Balraj Dutt to avoid name conflicts with the then veteran actor Balraj Sahni.[14][15]

Rise to stardom[edit]

Dutt in 1958

Dutt shot to stardom in the 1957 film Mother India in which he co-starred with Nargis as her short-tempered, angry son. During the making of this film, a fire happened on the set. It is believed that Dutt braved the raging fire to save Nargis and thereby won her love. They went on to marry in 1958. They had one son Sanjay Dutt, also a successful film actor, and two daughters, Priya Dutt and Namrata Dutt. His daughter Namrata married Kumar Gaurav, son of Rajendra Kumar. The two fathers were co-stars in Mother India.

Dutt was one of the major stars of Hindi cinema in the late 1950s and 1960s and continued to star in many successful films which included Sadhna (1958), Insan Jaag Utha (1959), Sujata (1959), Mujhe Jeene Do (1963), Khandan (1965), Mera Saaya (1966) and Padosan (1967). His collaboration with B.R. Chopra proved to be successful in films such as Gumraah (1963), Waqt (1965) and Hamraaz (1967). One of his favourite writers and friends was Aghajani Kashmeri. Dutt made his directorial debut and was the only actor to feature in the 1964 film Yaadein. The film was featured in the Guinness Book of Records for Fewest Actors in a Narrative Film. He later produced the 1968 film Man Ka Meet which introduced his brother Som Dutt, Vinod Khanna and Leena Chandavarkar. In 1971, he produced, directed and starred in Reshma Aur Shera (1971) which was critically well received but a box office failure.

During the early 1970s, his career as an actor was at a stand-still. Amidst this setback, he played Madhubala's hero in the 1971 film Jwala, which was a delayed film that had started production in the late 1950s and was Madhubala's last film. It was Geeta Mera Naam (1974) that brought him into the limelight again. The anti-hero was reborn after a long gap of films like Mother India and Mujhe Jeene Do. Sunil Dutt's performance of Johnny was liked by the masses as he clearly stole the limelight. It was one of the best performances of his career. He continued to star in hits that included Heera (1973), Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974), Nagin (1976), Jaani Dushman (1979), Muqabla (1979), and Shaan (1980). He also starred in a series of Punjabi religious movies in the 1970s: Man Jeete Jag Jeet (1973), Dukh Bhanjan Tera Naam (1974), and Sat Sri Akal (1977).[16] Even in 1980s he starred in both leading and supporting role in several successful movies such as Dard Ka Rishta (1982), Badle Ki Aag (1982), Raaj Tilak (1984), Mangal Dada (1986), Watan Ke Rakhwale (1987) and Dharamyudh (1988).

He launched his son Sanjay's career with Rocky in 1981 which was a success. Shortly before the film's release, Nargis died of pancreatic cancer. He founded the Nargis Dutt Foundation in her memory for the curing of cancer patients.[17] He was a sponsor of the India Project, an organisation akin to Operation Smile for the treatment of Indian children with facial deformities.[18]

In 1982, he was appointed as the Sheriff of Bombay, an apolitical titular position bestowed on him by the Maharashtra government for a year.[19]

He retired from the film industry in the early 1990s to turn to politics after his last few releases including Yash Chopra's Parampara (1993) and J.P. Dutta's Kshatriya (1993).

In 1995, he won the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the film industry for four decades. He returned to acting shortly before his death in 2003's Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. in which he shared the screen with his son Sanjay for the first time although they had appeared earlier in Rocky and Kshatriya but did not share any scenes together.

His closest friends from the film industry included Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Rajendra Kumar, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Yash Chopra, Waheeda Rehman and Sanjeev Kumar.

Political career[edit]

In 1987 when Punjab was facing heightened militancy, Dutt, accompanied by his daughter Priya undertook a 2,000 km 76 day long Mahashanti Padyatra (journey by foot) from Bombay to Amritsar (Golden Temple) to establish communal harmony and brotherhood.[20][21][22] During the padyatra, he attended more than 500 roadside meetings and suffered a bout of jaundice.[23]

His political career was halted for some years in the early 1990s when he worked to free his son from jail after he was arrested for keeping an AK-56 that he claimed was for the protection of his family after bomb blasts in Bombay.[24]


Dutt at an event on 25 May 2004 (one year before his death)

Dutt died of a heart attack on 25 May 2005 at his residence in Bandra, West Mumbai, two weeks before his 76th birthday.[25] At the time of his death, he was the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports in the Union Government led by Manmohan Singh and was the Member of Parliament from North-West Mumbai. He was cremated with full state honours at Santacruz Crematorium in Mumbai. He was succeeded as Minister by Mani Shankar Aiyar. His seat in the Parliament was contested by his daughter, Priya Dutt, who won it and was a Member of Parliament until May 2014.[26]

In popular culture[edit]

Paresh Rawal played the role of Dutt in the biopic on his son titled Sanju (2018).[27]

Awards and honours[edit]


As an Actor
Film Year Role Director Notes
Railway Platform 1955 Ram Ramesh Saigal
Kundan Amrit Sohrab Modi
Ek-Hi-Raasta 1956 Amar B.R. Chopra
Rajdhani Naresh Saigal
Kismet Ka Khel Prakash Verma Kishore Sahu
Payal 1957 Mohan Joseph Taliath
Mother India Birju Mehboob Khan
Sadhna 1958 Mohan B.R. Chopra
Post Box 999 Vikas Ravindra Dave
Insaan Jaag Utha 1959 Ranjeet Shakti Samanta
Didi Gopal K. Narayan Kale
Sujata 1960 Adhir Bimal Roy
Usne Kaha Tha Nandu Moni Bhattacharjee
Hum Hindustani Surendra Nath Ram Mukherjee
Ek Phool Char Kaante Sanjeev Bhappi Sonie
Duniya Jhukti Hai Mohan / Bankelal J.B.H. Wadia Double Role
Chhaya 1961 Arun / Poet Rahee Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Main Chup Rahungi 1962 Kamal Kumar A. Bhimsingh
Jhoola Dr. Arun K. Shankar
Gumraah 1963 Rajendra B. R. Chopra
Aaj Aur Kal Dr. Sanjay Vasant Joglekar
Yeh Rastey Hain Pyar Ke Anilkumar G. Sahni R. K. Nayyar
Nartakee Professor Nirmal Kumar Nitin Bose
Mujhe Jeene Do Thakur Jarnail Singh Moni Bhattacharjee Won - Filmfare Award for Best Actor
Yaadein 1964 Anil Sunil Dutt Also Director & Producer
Gazal Ejaaz Ved-Madan
Beti Bete Ramu / Krishna L. V. Prasad
Waqt 1965 Advocate Ravi Yash Chopra
Khandan Govind Shankar. Lal A. Bhimsingh Won - Filmfare Award for Best Actor
Mera Saaya 1966 Thakur Rakesh Singh Raj Khosla
Gaban Ramnath Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Amrapali Magadh Samrat Ajatashatru Lekh Tandon
Maitighar Sunil B.S. Thapa Special Appearance in Nepali Film
Milan 1967 Gopi / Gopinath Adurthi Subba Rao Won - BFJA Awards for Best Actor (Hindi)

Nominated - Filmfare Award for Best Actor

Hamraaz Kumar B. R. Chopra
Mehrban Kanhaiya A. Bhimsingh
Padosan 1968 Bhola Jyoti Swaroop
Sadhu Aur Shaitaan Catholic Priest D'souza A. Bhimsingh Guest Role, Uncredited
Gauri Sunil Kumar A. Bhimsingh
Pyasi Sham 1969 Raja Amar Kumar
Meri Bhabhi Raju Khalid Akhtar
Jwala Sunil M. Krishnan Nair Guest Role
Chirag Ajay Singh Raj Khosla
Bhai Bahen Surendra Pratap A. Bhimsingh
Darpan 1970 Balraj Dutt Adurthi Subba Rao
Bhai-Bhai Deep / Ashok / Sangram Raja Nawathe Double Role
Reshma Aur Shera 1971 Shera Singh Sunil Dutt Director & Producer
Jwala Jwala M. V. Raman Delayed Film
Zindagi Zindagi 1972 Dr. Sunil Tapan Sinha
Zameen Aasmaan Ravi A Veerappan
Jai Jwala Major Anand Manohar Deepak
Man Jeete Jag Jeet 1973 Bagga Daaku / Baghel Singh B.S. Thapa Punjabi Film
Heera Heera Sultan Ahmed
Kora Badan 1974 Sunil B.S. Ghad Guest Role
Geeta Mera Naam Suraj / Johnny Sadhana Negative Role
Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye Raja Thakur S. Ali Raza
Dukh Bhanjan Tera Naam Sadhu B.S.Thapa Guest Role in Punjabi Film
36 Ghante Himmat Singh Raj Tilak Negative Role
Zakhmee 1975 Anand Raja Thakur
Umar Qaid Raja Sikandar Khanna
Neelima Sunil Pushpraj Guest Role
Himalay Se Ooncha Vijay B.S. Thapa
Akela Khalid Sami
Nagin 1976 Vijay Rajkumar Kohli Supernatural Thriller
Nehle Pe Dehla Sunil Raj Khosla
Darinda 1977 Krishna / Yogidutt Kaushal Bharati
Sat Sri Akal Chaman Nillay
Ladki Jawan Ho Gayi Sunil Anand Dasani
Paapi Raj Kumar O. P. Ralhan
Gyaani Ji Pilot Sardar Hari Singh Chaman Nillay Punjabi Name : Sat Sri Akal (1977)
Charandas Advocate Tondon B.S. Thapa Guest Role
Aakhri Goli Vikram Shibu Mitra
Sone Ki Lanka 1978 Satpal
Ram Kasam Bhola / Shankar Chand Double Role
Kaala Aadmi Birju Ramesh Lakhanpal
Daaku Aur Jawan Birju Sunil Dutt
Muqabla 1979 Vikram 'Vicky' Rajkumar Kohli
Jaani Dushman Laakhan Rajkumar Kohli Horror Thriller
Ahinsa Birju Chand
Salaam Memsaab Naresh Sarit Asrani Guest Appearance
Lahu Pukarega 1980 Jitu Akhtar-Ul-Iman
Shaan DSP Shiv Kumar Ramesh Sippy
Yari Dushmani Shambhu Sikandar Khanna
Ganga Aur Suraj Inspector Ganga A. Salaam
Ek Gunah Aur Sahi Shankar Ramdas Yogi Kathuria
Rocky 1981 Shankar Sunil Dutt Guest Appearance, Uncredited
Meena Kumari Ki Amar Kahani Himself Sohrab Modi (Scene from movie)
Badle Ki Aag 1982 Lakhan Rajkumar Kohli
Dard Ka Rishta Dr. Ravi Kant Sharma Sunil Dutt Producer & Director
Film Hi Film 1983 Himself Hiren Nag Uncredited
Raaj Tilak 1984 Jai Singh Rajkumar Kohli
Laila Dharamraj Singh / Thakur Prithviraj Singh Saawan Kumar Double Role
Yaadon Ki Zanjeer Ravi Kumar Shibu Mitra Film delayed for 5 years
Faasle 1985 Vikram Yash Chopra
Kala Dhanda Goray Log 1986 Gauri Shankar / Michael Sanjay Khan
Mangal Dada Mangal Dada Ramesh Gupta Film Delayed for 6 Years
Watan Ke Rakhwale 1987 Jailor Suraj Prakash T. Rama Rao
Raj Kapoor Himself Siddharth Kak (during funeral)
Dharamyudh 1988 Thakur Vikram Singh Sudarshan Nag
Akarshan 1988 Himself Tanvir Ahmed
Yeh Aag Kab Bujhegi 1991 Prof. Kishna Sunil Dutt
Kurbaan Prithvi Singh Deepak Bahry
Pratigyabadh Pascal Ravi Chopra
Hai Meri Jaan Telegram Wala Roopesh Kumar Guest Role
Virodhi 1992 Police Commissioner Rajkumar Kohli
Kshatriya 1993 Maharaj Bhavani Singh J.P. Dutta
Parampara Thakur Bhavani Singh Yash Chopra
Phool Balram Choudhary Singeetam Srinivasa Rao
Durjan Sanjay Bhattacharya
Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. 2003 Hari Prasad Sharma Rajkumar Hirani (final film role)
Lage Raho Munna Bhai 2006 Shri Hari Prasad Sharma Rajkumar Hirani Photo used in many scenes as Munna's Father
Om Shanti Om 2007 Magadh Samrat Ajatashatru Farah Khan Recreated Via CGI during the song "Dhoom Tana", (archive footage)

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Mr. and Mrs. Dutt: Memories of our Parents, Namrata Dutt Kumar and Priya Dutt, 2007, Roli Books. ISBN 978-81-7436-455-5.[32]
  • Darlingji: The True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt, Kishwar Desai. 2007, Harper Collins. ISBN 978-81-7223-697-7.


  1. ^ a b Kumar, Shiv (25 May 2005). "Sunil Dutt is no more". The Tribune. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Bollywood legend Sunil Dutt dies". BBC News. 25 May 2005. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d "member's profile - Sunil Dutt". Loksabha. Retrieved 28 November 2020.[dead link]
  4. ^ a b "Padma Awards | Interactive Dashboard". Archived from the original on 11 October 2020. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Current Lok Sabha Members Biographical Sketch". Archived from the original on 12 November 2007. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Fourteenth Lok Sabha".
  7. ^ "Zee Premiere- The Triumph of Spirit". May 2001. Archived from the original on 28 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2001.
  8. ^ Syed, Abdul Rasool (21 September 2018). "Hussaini Brahmins and the tragedy of Karbala". Daily Times. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  9. ^ a b Mankermi, Shivani (17 September 2023). "Did you know Sanjay Dutt's ancestors were landlords in Pakistan? – ETimes BFFS". The Times of India. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  10. ^ "We all are one, whichever religion we belong to". May 2005. Retrieved 25 May 2005.
  11. ^ "Sunil Dutt: The Man Stardom Never Dared to Change". The Quint. 25 May 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Sunil Dutt". MyNeta. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  13. ^ "Remembering actor and politician late Sunil Dutt". Filmfare. Worldwide Media The Times of India. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  14. ^ Sanjay Dutt: The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood's Bad Boy. Juggernaut Books. 1 June 2020. ISBN 9789386228581. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  15. ^ Bollywood: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. Star Publications, 2006. 2006. ISBN 9781905863013. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  16. ^ "A towering personality". Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  17. ^ "NDMCT - Nargis Dutt Memorial Charatiable Trust". Archived from the original on 5 February 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Remembering Sunil Dutt on his 77th Birthday... Contd". 6 June 2007. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  19. ^ "Sunil Dutt appointed new sheriff of Bombay". India Today. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  20. ^ Singh, Tavleen (9 January 2014). "Sunil Dutt's Mahashanti Padyatra ends at Golden Temple in Amritsar". India Today. Retrieved 18 June 2023.
  21. ^ Singh, Sushant (18 November 2022). "Yatra Diary: A Ringside View Of 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'". Outlook. Retrieved 18 June 2023.
  22. ^ Sharma, Sanjukta (28 April 2009). "Priya Dutt | Bandra's benevolent daughter". Mint. Retrieved 18 June 2023.
  23. ^ "Dauntless Dutt". Tribune. 29 May 2004. Retrieved 18 June 2023.
  24. ^ "Sanjay Dutt convicted in 1993 Bombay blasts case, gets 5 years in jail". Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  25. ^ "Bollywood legend Sunil Dutt dies". BBC News. 25 May 2005.
  26. ^ Phadke, Manasi (8 October 2018). "Priya Dutt's long march in politics shows signs of winding down". ThePrint. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  27. ^ Sharma, Priyanka (11 July 2017). "Paresh Rawal on Sanjay Dutt biopic: It is primarily a father-son story". The Indian Express. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  28. ^ "1968 31st Annual BFJA Awards". Archived from the original on 13 January 2009.
  29. ^ "Sunil Dutt – film star, peace activist, secularist, politician extraordinary". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 26 May 2005. Archived from the original on 27 May 2005.
  30. ^ "Award Winners". Screen. Archived from the original on 22 October 1999. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  31. ^ "Tribute to a son of the soil". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India. 25 May 2007. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012.
  32. ^ To Mr. and Mrs. Dutt, with love (Literary Review) Archived 29 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine The Hindu, 7 October 2007.

External links[edit]