Pune (Maharashtra): Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt finally walked out a free man after serving his jail-term from the Yerwada Central Jail (YCJ) here on Thursday morning. He said there's no easy walk to freedom.
He was sentenced to undergo five years' rigorous imprisonment for illegal possession of arms during the March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.
Arrested in 1993, Dutt had already served 18 months as an undertrial and then returned to jail in May 2013 to serve the remainder of his sentence.
He walked out of the blue-yellow painted YCJ gates carrying a huge bag of his personal belongings and a plastic bag of files and papers.
Near the main gate, sporting a dark blue shirt and jeans, Dutt put the bag down, turned around and saluted the Indian tricolor fluttering atop the jail building where he spent a momentous part of his life.
Earlier, he thanked the police and jail staff but they took care not ro get too close or helpful with the actor, and let him lug his own bulky bag as he walked to the barricades near his waiting car.
Present to receive him outside the YCJ were his wife Manyata aand their children, sister and ex-MP Priya Dutt and her family, filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani, his lawyers, thousands of fans and a huge media contingent from across India and abroad.
Shortly after he walked out of the YCJ, he drove to Pune Airport at Lohegaon to board a chartered plane to Mumbai.
There, he spoke to the media and credited his fans for their unending support.
He said: "I am here because of their (fans') support. And there is no easy road to freedom, my friends."
From the Mumbai Airport, Dutt will proceed straight to the famed Siddhhi Vinayak Temple in Dadar west to offer thankgiving prayers.
Then he will go to the Bada Kabrastan in south Mumbai and pray at the grave of his mother the late actress Nargis Dutt who died of cancer.
After this, Dutt will go to his Bandra home, for his permanent 'ghar wapasi', meet his family and friends and is expected to interact with media in the afternoon.
His sister Priya was asked if Sanjay is considering a move into politics?
She said: "I hope not... He is too simple a person... Politics has reached different levels. Hope he remains happy. He is looking forward to coming back to work. He was uncertain... (about his film career)."
The actor is yet to zero in on the new films that he will be working on.
Hirani, who has worked with Dutt in the "Munnabhai" series, said in a video: "We are happy that Sanju is coming back... He has served his term, and will come back and play his second innings. Indians are famous for scoring in their second innings. I am sure he is going to come and rock. I look forward to work on his biopic and also to start 'Munnabhai 3' very soon with him."