Ranbir Kapoor starrer Sanju, whose trailer was revealed on the 30th of May, finally hit the theatres on the 29th of June. The D-Day that was marked on every calendar finally arrived and Rajkumar Hirani delivered in his signature style, adding a comic touch to translate the life of Sanjay Dutt, a string of bad choices to celluloid, which was a calculated risk and could have easily misfired but this is where Hirani’s talent comes in to play.
Adhering to a caricaturish tone, like many of Rajkumar Hirani’s other movies, with an idea of delivering poetic justice at the end, his characters come across as almost comical but never laughable, which is crucial for a film like Sanju that deals with sensitive issues that surround the life of Sanjay Dutt. The use of a diminutive as the name of the film becomes an important point as it somehow helps the audience to feel empathy towards our character.
The film attains an emotional and forgiving outlook of Dutt’s choices by highlighting his life’s sufferings, some of which he brought upon himself. There are major loop holes in the script and parts of Dutt’s life don’t find a mention in it. For example, His first wife who died out of cancer or his daughter Trishala who don’t figure in this 161 minutes flick. The narrative is not slow and the first half is gripping and will keep the audience glued to their seats. The film is a tribute to Bollywood and its Golden era and is paying homage to Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sahir Ludhianvi and Anand Bakshi.
We almost forget that there is a huge ensemble of actors that swirls in and out of frame. The film casts Paresh Rawal as the actor turned parliamentarian Sunil Dutt, Vicky Kaushal as Kamli, Sanju’s best friend, Dia Mirza as Manyata Dutt, Jim Sarbh as the friend with a bad influence, Manisha Koirala as the legendary actress Nargis Dutt, Anushka Sharma as biographer Winnie Diaz, Sonam Kapoor as Sanju’s girlfriend, whose outer appearance is startlingly similar to Sanjay Dutt’s then girlfriend Tina Munim, Boman Irani as her father and the esteemed actress Tabu in a guest appearance but this film clearly belongs to Ranbir Kapoor, his success lying in the fact that he could embrace each of the lives of Sanjay Dutt and become the many characters that Sanjay Dutt played during the different phases in his life, off-screen. How meta.
Ranbir has acquired more than Sanjay Dutt’s body language, speech impediment and under eye bags that are a result of heavy drinking. Sanju becomes a spectacle to watch hugely due to Ranbir Kapoor’s contribution to the character in a film that continually tries to portray Sanjay Dutt as a victim of bad peers, draconian laws and a case of bad journalism that has caused his reputation to take a hit.
Sanju tries to paint his subject as a sufferer. Son of the legendary actress Nargis Dutt and the stalwart actor Sunil Dutt, who shared screen time in India’s first movie to find a ticket to the Oscars – Mother India. Their family history and long legacy brought expectations and baggage under which our Sanju seems to have wavered a little, according to the director. While trying to live up to his father’s greatness and his mother’s stardom he wound up instead in a life mired by insecurities.
Dutt Sahab, who I have a lot of respect for and who was undoubtedly a man of great virtue, an idealistic figure even in the film is shown as Sanjay Dutt’s greatest pillar of strength, who chooses to remain patient with his son through all his wrong decisions. The two most remarkable films of Sanjay Dutt’s career, Rocky & Munnabhai MBBS are only a consequence of Sanjay standing on his father’s shoulders. The scenes shot involving the duo are deeply moving and truly stem from a place of genuineness, leaving us heart broken and emotional, a speech in the film, which was not well-written but was a part of a well-crafted scene, touched the emotional apex for me and I wouldn’t lie, this is where I bawled. Rajkumar Hirani is a genius because the audience feels exactly what he wants them to.
We have a film that claims to give us the backstory on Sanjay Dutt’s life and this time we get to hear it from Dutt himself and not some tabloid, whether it is an attempt to clean up a tarnished reputation or if it’s a completely honest account is debatable. A leap of artistic liberties has been taken but we have been proven as was proclaimed at the start of the film that “Bad choices make good stories” and the eternal bad boy’s filmy life makes for a good Bollywood masala flick.
While the variance between Sanjay Dutt’s real life and reel life seems to have obtained momentous gulf but the audience stayed till the promotional song only to get up on their feet and give the hagiography a standing ovation, inside the four walls of a cinema hall that was teeming with people and is enough to conclude that Sanju has been given a clean chit by the audience. It is a treat you should definitely subject yourself to.
Sanju, is basically the story of a less than impressive son who is burdened by the pressure of having to live up to the name of the House of Dutt and the price he had to pay for not being as legendary as his parents.