Sanjay Dutt may have walked out of jail last month after being in and out for the past 23 years, but the Bollywood star says the feeling of freedom is yet to sink in.
The 56-year-old actor, who was convicted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, served a 42-month sentence at Pune's Yerwada jail.
He was released on February 25, 103 days ahead of the end of his prison term.
"I was in solitary confinement. It will take a bit longer for me to feel free. The feeling of freedom is yet to sink in. I have been in and out of jail for the last 23 years. There were so many restrictions, permissions to be taken. I am getting used to living life like a free man. The feeling is yet to hit me.
"They imprison you mentally more than physically. They tell you what to do and what not do in prison," Dutt said at the India Today Conclave.
He said, contrary to people's perception, he did not receive any special treatment during his jail term and was given the same food to eat and the same clothes as any other inmate.
"I did not get any VIP treatment. In fact I was treated worse than normal inmates as everyone thought I was getting special treatment. The worst thing about jail was the food, it was terrible and not edible at all."
The "Munnabhai" star said the sentence and the imprisonment always haunted him and his family. He assured everyone that he loves his country and is a patriot.
"It has haunted me all these years. It has haunted my family and especially my father. I am a patriot, my family is a patriot. I cannot think of harming my country. It did affect me a lot. But I thank people that they didn't lose their faith in me and believed in me," he said.
The actor said his father, actor-politician Sunil Dutt, believed in him, and before he passed away he had told him that he was proud of his son.
"I don't think I let my father down. He knew I was not a terrorist. Before he died he told me that he was proud of me."
Dutt said that other than the day the weapons were found in his house, he has no regrets about anything as he has learnt the valuable lesson of not being brash.
"I don't have any regrets. I have learnt a lot in these years. It has taught me not to be brash. I have learnt to respect the law of our country and also have learnt about it. I think every citizen should know about the law of the country. But yes I do regret the day those weapons came into my house."
The actor also opened up about his drug problem which he said began after the death of his mother, actress Nargis Dutt.
"I am quite a shy person in real life. I got into the habit of drugs after my mother died and then it became chronic. I have done every drug there is. My dad didn't understand what was wrong with me, he is from Punjab. But then, one day, I couldn't handle anymore and my dad took me to hospital. From there I went to a rehab in the US. And it has been 40 years since that incident and I haven't looked back," he said.
Dutt said he does not need drugs anymore as he gets his adrenaline rush from his work now.
Talking about the underworld, he said everybody in Bollywood during that time was getting involved with the underworld in some way or the other. He said that in his case it was more of a compulsion than a choice.
"In those times everyone from Bollywood was involved with the underworld. Everyone was getting calls, threats. I got the weapon from a producer, not from the underworld," he said.
Dutt said that the dark part of his life is over, and he had left this part back in the Pune jail. "I have come out to begin a new life."
He said it has been a hard road to freedom and had a piece of advice to give.
"Don't take freedom for granted. People should value it. Because I know what it truly means in all these years of my life. Freedom is more important than anything in life."
When asked if he would get into politics like his father, he said he will stay away from it and his main focus is on his family and his work.
Dutt said he wants to help jail reforms and people with drug abuse. "I want to do something for them," he said.