|the-south-asian.com AUGUST 2001|
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SOCIETY & CULTURE
societies - Wisdom and Challenges
SOUTH ASIAN FEATURE
and origin of Modern Art
Bengal's last roar?
Page 3 of 3
Sunil Dutt - a meaningful journey
Adding meaning to Life
After my graduation I made my first ever film "Railway Platform’ – and it was with Ramesh Sehgal. The film also had Nalini Jaywant, Johnny Walker, and Manmohan Krishan. Madan Mohan ji gave the music and Sahir Ludhianvi wrote the songs. That’s how my film journey began – with "Railway Platform". My film career was launched. Colonel Nicholson, in charge of Bombay and Calcutta offices of Keymers, motivated me to join the film industry without giving up my job at Keymers. I was offered three hundred rupees a month by Ramesh Sehgal and Keymers were paying me nine hundred rupees a month. So 1200 Rs was a princely sum for me at the time.
I did not dissolve myself only in films – I was very much aware of the problems within my country – because I had come through those problems too – the partition of India had virtually brought us on the footpath. I owe whatever I am today, to the people of my country. I became popular because of them, because of their love for me. I wanted to do something in return for their love. I had been in the film industry barely seven years when war broke out with China in 1962. I signed up a few films and gave the amount to Pandit Nehru – for our brave soldiers fighting under challenging conditions. Panditji also suggested that we go to the northern areas to entertain our troops – he gave me examples of Bob Hope and Lesley Howard. We went to Leh and other areas – and repeated these efforts again during the 1965 and 1971 wars.
Later I got deeply involved with campaigns on AIDS, drug abuse and cancer. I walked from Bombay to Amritsar for peace in Punjab. I drove through Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal in the Hands Across the Borders expedition for peace in South Asia. I have worked for the slum-dwellers and those in the red-light areas. A lot of my time is also spent in raising funds for the Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation. In the past 18 years we have brought in medical equipment worth three million dollars, for different hospitals in India. Our Foundation in UK donated about $16,000 to Imran Khan’s cancer hospital in Lahore. We also helped Imran raise 100,000 pounds sterling at a fund-raising dinner in Birmingham. I also helped raise three million shillings for a cancer hospital in Kenya.
Disease and suffering have no religion and no nationality. My work encompasses mankind. That is the reason I resigned from my duties as a Member of Parliament at the time of Bombay riots. I was expressing my resentment to the Government. My concept of secularism is to be a good human being who respects all religions. Religion is only meant to make you a good human being – it is not meant to turn you into a fanatic – religion is all about caring. People might think I am secular because I married a Muslim lady – but I married a human being – I married somebody who could take care of my family, take care of my mother and who could truly share my life. She could have been from anywhere in the world!
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