Sanjay Dutt is all set to make yet another comeback to films with this week’s release Bhoomi, and even as director Omung Kumar says that it’s a huge responsibility on him, he appears quite confident and upbeat. That’s probably because Omung feels the film will be lapped up by Dutt’s fans, who’re eager to watch him on the big screen after such a long hiatus. For Omung, who previously helmed two biopics — Mary Kom and Sarbjit — Bhoomi is a different genre altogether, an out-and-out mainstream commercial potboiler.
“Bhoomi is certainly a different genre for me but I have done it in my style. I have paid lot of attention to the performances. You won’t see the hero Sanjay Dutt, you will see him as the character, Arun Sachdeva,” Omung told Firstpost in the run-up to his film’s release. The director’s confidence also stems from the fact that Dutt has chosen him over other filmmaker friends to make his big screen return with. In fact, Dutt has expressed his confidence in Bhoomi being his perfect comeback vehicle.
“Bhoomi is an entertainer, a commercial action film and this is the genre I want to be in,” Dutt told Firstpost in a recent interview. Omung seconds: “Bhoomi is a complete potboiler. It has the quintessential Bollywood score, whistle-worthy dialogues, raw action sequences. I’ve also shot in unusual locations like Chambal.”
Omung recounted how he got Sanjay to agree to do the film. “I went to meet Sanjay and showed him Sarbjit’s trailer which he loved. Then I narrated four scripts to him, out of which, Sanjay chose Bhoomi. Maybe the script touched his heart and it matched his sensibilities. I was just producing the film at that time but then he insisted that I direct it as well. At that time my psychological thriller Five was about to go on the floors but since I got busy with Bhoomi, I had to push that one (back).”
Dutt has had many ‘comebacks’ — like a cat’s nine lives, his career has received fresh impetus every time he’s returned from a (forced) break. Jaan Ki Baazi (1985) was his first movie after he came back from his drug treatment and rehabilitation in the US; Daud (1997) was his first film after his 1993 arrest in the Mumbai serial bomb blast case, and having wrapped up his jail sentence, Dutt is now back with Bhoomi. His last two films before being sentenced to imprisonment in early 2013 were PK and Ungli (both released in 2014).
Omung looked back at how Dutt’s always managed a successful return and said, “(It’) probably because the industry loves him for whatever he is that the offers keep flowing in. He has had a long journey of about 186 films but few films touch you more like Vaastav, Naam, Saajan, Munnabhai… For us, he is a fabulous actor, he is known for his style, for his swag, his physique…but in my film, I didn’t want all of that. I wanted a new person. I have broken that mould and you will see his acting ability. His face speaks, each frame looks like a painting because his wrinkles talk, his beard talks, all that oozes emotion — and to me those were the high points.”
Omung revealed that Dutt and he were both nervous on the first day of the shoot as they tried to understand each other’s method of acting. “I realised that Sanjay would want me to okay the shot in the first take. He hates rehearsing!” said Omug, adding with a laugh: “There is a huge court room scene with dialogues running into 10 pages. He did that scene in one take — he had told me earlier that he won’t give a second take at all!”