Indian superstar Sanjay Dutt, 48, tied the knot with his companion of two years Manyata, 36. It was his third marriage. A fast-track divorce from his former wife Rhea Pillai enabled Sanjay Dutt to marry Manyata early this month. The actor filed a plea by mutual consent citing irreconcilable differences.
When asked about the differences, Rhea said, “Sanjoy wanted to Marry Manyata, and I won’t have it. I could not agree with him. I am still old fashioned and do not like my husband marrying other woman.”
Sanjay Dutt had a different opinion. According to his publicist, “Sanjoy offered her all the possible options. What is wrong for a man to have more than one wife? Superstar like Sanjoy can afford it. Rhea was being unreasonable. At the end her insistence that he only have one wife led to the divorce filing.”
Mr. Patil, the judge in family court in Bandra where the divorce paper was filed, dismissed suggestion of any special treatment. He defended the rare waiver of the mandatory six months wait for a divorce by mutual consent.
“Dutt deserves a quick divorce. Superstar like Dutt cannot be treated the same way we treat a common man. If we did then what is the point of being famous. It is not fair, and against the protection provided in the constitution.”
When asked what exact clause of the constitutional protection he was referring to, Mr. Patil replied, “That is for us judges to decide. But you cannot deny that he is a superstar, and that is that.”
He also brushed aside the rumor of forged documents in the divorce filing. “This is absurd,” he said. “This is coming from those poor people who cannot effort more than one version of truth. He is super rich. He can get a legal copy for a small bribe anytime. Our legal system provides for that. You tell me, why he needs to forge any document.”
When asked about the constitutional protection provided for superstar, the opposition leader Advani had this to say:
“You know for a long time I have said this again and again. The constitution is not helping us do what we need to do. It is holding us back. But would anyone listen. As for Mr. Dutt, I hear that his new wife would convert to Hinduism. So I am all for a quick divorce. We need lot more people converting to Hinduism, especially pretty women.”
Bollywood observer and writer Ms. Meena was also supportive. “Look, I do not care much about the constitution, court, or the law. All I know is that they are after him. Look how he has been treated for long. He is lost so much time fighting the law of the land. He is almost 50 now and only married twice. Given his fame, he is way below the Bollywood standard. He needs to catch up if he wants to stay famous.”
“And I personally know a lot of teenagers who are wiling to marry him. So it is only fair that he get a quick divorce,” she added.
Dr. Sinha from economy department of Delhi University talked about the need for the quick divorce for rich and famous. “You forgot to mention that I have also a degree in math. And if you do your math, you realize that average men in India can only afford to get married once. While superstars like Dutt get married more than a half a dozen times. That is why the six month delay for normal person should be less than a month for a superstar. It is just simple math.”
He also explained the positive effect of such quick divorce. “If people like Dutt cannot get married often it would harm the growing economy. Not only they spend a lot for their marriage, such marriage is also a good way to launder some money that is a vital stimulus for the economy. It also affects the macro economy. These marriages produce enough gossip and sell tabloids, the backbone of our system. Without them it would be hard to keep the economy going.”
Dutt’s fans were also elated. “They kept him in the jail for so long, and he missed out so much,” said a teen girl. “He needs to be loved too, you know. We are so happy for him.”
Raj, a 23 year recent IT graduate and a long time fan of Dutt, thought it was unfair. “Why does he have to wait at all? When would the women of India grow up and embrace divorce like they do in America.” Asked if he is married, he replied, “No, I am still waiting for the right girl who understands the value of divorce.”
There were a few who were not happy. Hearing the news of the quick divorce Manyata’s former husband, Meeraj-ur-Rehman, was upset. We met up with him at his house in Goa. He was visibly distressed.
“I do not understand,” he said. “How can this happen? I have not given her talaq. It is against the Muslim principle. It is one thing that your wife is companion to a rich superstar, but it is really an insult when she marries him. I hear he has a wife already. Having two wives is so unnatural. It is against god.” He shook his head in disbelief and told one his other wives to close the door.
Mrs. Yadav, a 42 year old mother of three, said, “This is not fair. I hear she is 36 and married. How come she gets married while no one wants to marry my daughters? They are only 16 and 19. I do not know where the country is going when men would prefer a 36 year old over a 16 year old. It would have never happened in our time.”
It is reported that Dutt presented Manyata a diamond ring worth Rs 40 lakh. At the time of this report, it was not clear if it was a wedding present or part of next divorce settlement.