Born as Balraj Dutt on June 6, 1930 in Khurd in Jhelum (now in Pakistan) Sunil Dutt was a very popular and charismatic actor who later on went on to join politics and also became a Cabinet Minister in the Manmohan Singh government (2004-2005). His family moved to Haryana after the partition. In the early 1950s, Dutt moved to Mumbai to continue his education and joined the Jai Hind College. He was involved in drama and this fetched him his first job with Keymers, a British advertising agency that hired him for radio programmes. He joined the Congress party in 1984 and was elected to Parliament for five terms from the Mumbai North West constituency.
Sunil Dutt started his career as a hugely popular anchor (Lipton ki Mehfil) on the Hindi Service of Radio Ceylon, the oldest radio station in South Asia. From there he progressed into Hindi films, his first film being Railway Platform, released in 1955. That Dutt was a very fine actor is reflected in the plethora of roles that he portrayed over the years. He has played the idealistic young man in films like Sujata (1959), Hum Hindustani (1960), the angry young man in films like Mother India (1957), Mujhe Jeene Do (1963), Amrapali (1966), has acted in comedies like Ek Phool Chaar Kaante (1960) and Padosan (1968) and also in weepy melodramas like Meherbaan (1967) and Meri Bhaabi (1969). Dutt became an A-Grade hero in the 1960s. His most celebrated work came with his association with BR Chopra in films like Ek hi Raasta (1956), Sadhana , Gumrah (1963), Waqt (1965) and Humraaz (1967). The films were among Dutt's biggest successes at the box office. Dutt's other important and popular films inlcude Main Chup Rahoongi (1962), Khandaan (1965), Gaban (1966), Mera Saaya (1966), Milan (1967) and Chiraag (1969). Dutt turned producer with Yeh Raastein Hain Pyaar ke (1963), a very unconventional film for those times which dealt with adultery. This was followed by Mujhe Jeene Do (1963) a dacoit drama, and Yaadein (a one of its kind film with just a single actor). Then in 1971 came Reshma aur Shera where he starred opposite Waheeda Rehman. Sunil Dutt's big breakthrough film was Mother India where he made an extremely strong impact playing the rebellious son Birju, whom his mother Radha (Nargis) finally shoots down. His most enduring film however would have to be Padosan (1968), one of the best comedies ever made in Hindi filmdom, where he made his presence felt in the midst of established comedians like Mehmood and Kishore Kumar. Dutt’s directorial ventures were very out-of-the box and he is known for making some unconventional cinema. In 1971 he made the film Reshma aur Shera, which was a love story set in Rajasthan amidst very beautiful locales. The films had some beautiful melodies but unfortunately it flopped terribly at the box office leaving Dutt in debt of about Rs 35 lakh, a huge amount in those days. This compelled him to revert to formulaic movies with films like Heera (1973), Pran Jaaye Par Vachan Na Jaaye (1973), Zakhmee (1975), Nagin (1976) and Nehle pe Dehla (1976). While not challenging the actor in him at all, fortunately these films did well at the box-office thus enabling him to pay off his dues. After a long break, Dutt acted in the film Munnabhai MBBS where he played father to his real life son, Sanjay Dutt. The film released in 2003 and was a huge hit.
Sunil Dutt was a recipient of numerous awards, including the Padmashree in 1968, the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Award for National Integration and Communal Harmony in 1997, the Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan Award for International Peace, Communal Harmony, Unity and National Integration in 1997 and the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award in 1998. He received the Filmfare best actor twice, once in 1963 for Mujhe Jeene Do and again in 1965 for Khandaan. In 1995, he won the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also a recipient of the "Glory of India Award" by IIAF, London. Sunil Dutt passed away in his sleep due to cardiac arrest in Mumbai on 25 May, 2005. He is survived by son, Sanjay and two daughters Priya and Namrata. It is a well-known story that while shooting for Mother India, Nargis was trapped amidst burning haystacks. As the flames got higher and higher, Sunil Dutt ran through the fire and rescued her. He proposed to her and Nargis married Sunil Dutt and quit films after marriage. Dutt was made Sheriff of Bombay in 1981. He contested elections for the first time from Mumbai North-West constituency in 1984 and won for 5 consecutive terms. In 2004 he was made Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs.