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Dutt learns of 34 year-old link with Rathore

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
August 20, 2004 21:00 IST
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When Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Sunil Dutt visited the Delhi Cantonment house of Major Rajyavardhan S Rathore last evening to congratulate the family on his silver medal in the Athens Olympics, he had a surprise – a very pleasant surprise – waiting for him.

The major's mother Manju and wife Gayatri showed the film star-turned-minister a colour photograph of the baby Rajyavardhan and informed Dutt that he himself had shot the photograph when he was in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, filming his classic Reshma Aur Shera way back in 1970. Rajyavardhan was just a couple of months old then.

"My Nanaji [maternal grandfather] Dhum Singhji was commandant in that township and the entire unit visited our house for a get-together," Ritu Chohan, Major Rathore's sister, told "It was during this visit that Dutt Saheb had taken this picture. He developed and sent a print of the photograph to my Nanaji. We also have a picture of Amitabh Bachchan with us
in our family album."

The thrilled Dutt called up his daughter Priya to share the happy information and jocularly remarked that he too could now claim an association with the latest icon of Indian sports.

Manav, Rathore's son, and his friends requested Dutt to organise a telephone conversation with his son Sanjay, star of Munnabhai MBBS. Dutt, however, could not oblige because Sanjay's cell phone was switched off. Before leaving, however, he promised the children to fly them to Mumbai for a meeting with their 'Munnabhai'.

Dutt's day, however, ended on a sour note when he learnt that weightlifter Sanamacha Chanu too had failed her dope test. Earlier, Pratima Kumari, another weightlifter, was debarred from the competition for failing a drugs test.

What infuriated the minister was the fact that Indian Olympic Association officials hid these facts from him. The minister, who was in Athens, returned to India on Independence Day. Dutt has reportedly made up his mind to take strong action against the guilty officials and make an example of them.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi