Bollywood multihyphenate Sunil Dutt, 74, died in Mumbai, India of cardiac arrest May 25. Thesp-producer-director Dutt, who was elected to the Indian parliament five times and was a sports minister when he died, was accorded a state funeral with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attending.
Dutt rose to stardom with “Mother India” (1957), India’s first foreign-language Oscar-nommed pic. He later married his co-star Nargis after saving her from a fire on the film set.
Born Balraj in what is now Pakistan, he fled to India during the bloody Partition when India was divided and Pakistan formed in 1947, Dutt began his career at Radio Ceylon (now Radio Sri Lanka). He debuted as an actor in “Railway Platform” (1955) taking on the name Sunil Dutt.
Among the more than 100 films he starred in were Bimal Roy’s “Sujata” (An Untouchable Girl, 1959) and “Usne kaha tha” (He Said, 1960); B. R. Chopra’s “Ek hi raasta” (The Only Way, 1956), “Sadhna” (Devotion, 1958), “Gumrah” (Astray, 1963), “Hamraaz” (Accomplice, 1967) and “Padosan” (Neighbor, 1968).
His last outing was in the 2003 hit “Munnabhai MBBS” with his son, Sanjay. Fox is remaking that pic as “Gangsta M.D.”
Dutt produced the well-received “Mujhe jeene do” (Let Me Live, 1963), for which he received an Indian acting award along with “Khandaan” (Family, 1965).
He went on to produce-direct critically acclaimed “Yaadein” (Memories, 1964) and “Reshma aur Shera” (1971). Dutt’s “Dard ka rishta” (Bonds of Anguish, 1983) explored the pain of cancer patients and their families — a tribute to his wife Nargis, who died of the disease in 1981. His last directorial venture was “Yeh aag kab bhujegi” (Will This Fire Ever Be Extinguished, 1991) .
Dutt set up his Ajanta Arts Troupe, which was the first to entertain Indian army troops on the border in 1962. India bestowed the Padma Shri award on him for his humanitarian work.
He is survived by his actor son, Sanjay, and two daughters.