MUMBAI, Sept 23, (Agencies): Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt returned to Indian cinema screens Friday in his first film since serving four years in prison for possessing weapons supplied by gangsters behind the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts.
The disgraced star, 58, plays the role of a father who seeks revenge for the gang-rape of his daughter in Hindi-language action thriller “Bhoomi”, directed by Omung Kumar.
Dutt walked free from jail in 2016. He last appeared in a film in 2014 and promoters trailed Friday’s release with a poster on social media declaring: “The Beast is Back”.
“I’m very excited to see ‘Bhoomi’. I’m sure it will be a big hit”, said ardent fan Sandeep Bachche, who has a tattoo of Dutt’s face inked on his left arm.
The rickshaw driver has another tattoo referencing the title of one of Dutt’s most famous film roles while the inside of his three-wheeler is covered in posters of the actor.
“I have booked tickets to watch three consecutive shows on the first day”, Bachche told AFP, admitting that he would be watching them alone.
Dutt shot to fame in the mid-1980s in a string of action movies in which he performed his own stunts, earning him the nickname “Deadly Dutt”.
He is best known for playing a mobster with a heart of gold in the popular “Munna Bhai” series.
Reviewers appeared lukewarm about “Bhoomi” but praised Dutt’s performance.
“Watch Bhoomi for Dutt. He’s from that era of larger-than-life heroes who get you to whistle even when he is killing people”, said a review in the Times of India.
Dutt was convicted in 2006 of holding guns supplied by mafia bosses who orchestrated the 1993 bombings that killed 257 people.
The attacks were believed to have been staged by Muslim underworld figures in retaliation for religious riots in which mainly Muslims died, following the razing of an ancient mosque in north India.
Dutt insisted the two guns were only meant to protect his family in the tense atmosphere in Mumbai following the mosque’s destruction.
He was originally given a six-year term and spent 18 months in prison before being released on bail in 2007, pending an appeal.
In March 2013, the Supreme Court upheld his conviction but cut his prison term to five years, sending Dutt back to jail to serve the remaining three-and-a half years of his sentence.
He was granted several months of freedom at different times to work on unfinished Bollywood movies and his last film appearance came in science fiction hit “PK” three years ago.
Dutt was released in February last year, eight months ahead of schedule for good behaviour. Activists claimed he was given special treatment because of his celebrity status.
He has several films in the pipeline including “Munna Bhai 3”, “Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3”, “Malang” and “Torbaaz”.
A biopic is also being made on his troubled life, with Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor playing Dutt.
LOS ANGELES: Tom Hanks is attached to star in “A Man Called Ove”, a remake of the popular Swedish film directed by Hannes Holm.
Hanks will also produce along with his producing partner Gary Goetzman through their Playtone production banner. Rita Wilson will also produce along with Fredrik Wikstrom Nicastro for his Nordic major SF Studios.
“A Man Called Ove” was nominated for two Academy Awards earlier this year and was the highest-grossing foreign language film in the United States in 2016. In addition, the film was awarded best comedy at the European Film Awards in 2016.
Fredrik Backman’s debut novel became an international sensation following its 2012 publication, hitting No 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List and remaining on the list for a consecutive 77 weeks. It has been translated into 43 languages.
“This story about love, tolerance and hope amplifies the qualities in movies that are hallmarks of the classic films we know and love”, said Wilson. “‘A Man Called Ove’ transcended the language barrier to touch readers and audiences in ways we long for. What an honor to be part of such beautiful material.”
“A Man Called Ove” is one of the features included in SF Studios’ strategy to produce English language films for the international market based on Nordic IP and/or with Nordic talent. First out is “Borg/McEnroe”, starring Sverrir Gudnasson, Shia LaBeouf and Stellan Skarsgard, directed by Janus Metz which just had its world premiere as the opening film of Toronto Film Festival, and is sold to over 150 countries.
It will be followed by the thriller “Horizon Line” written by “10 Cloverfield Lane” scribes Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken, and “I am Victor” written by James Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, based on an upcoming novel by Jo Nesbo, to be directed by Baltasar Kormakur.