One question that was there in every pre-release interview of Sanju was that whether it will become a PR work for Sanjay Dutt. I personally wasn’t really aware of the specifics of the life of Sanjay Dutt like the details of the Bombay blasts. I obviously knew that he was arrested for having AK 56 and faced trial under TADA. Not to spoil the fun of watching a biopic I purposefully never researched too much into the actor’s life to avoid too much information. Powered by some crackling performances and a fine enough screenplay, what Rajkumar Hirani has managed to achieve in Sanju is making the viewer look for the details of all those things to make sure the claims are correct.
So the film starts off with a writer Sanjay Dutt hired narrating him his own biography. Unimpressed by the glorification, he chooses to hire a different well-known writer who was initially unwilling to write it owing to the public perception of Dutt. So the film basically is about how that writer knows the story of Sanjay Dutt and decides to write a book on him.
Sanju is a Rajkumar Hirani film and he has not tried to make a stark difference in terms of making style. So every funny and sentimental bit we have seen in all his movies are pretty much there in Sanju. A debate about whether this movie is sympathizing with Dutt was constantly going on in my head and every time when you kind of get a feeling that it is sympathizing with him, the movie throws in some claims that couldn’t be false as the man is still alive and the judicial system that was involved in it still exists. For eg., in one seen Dutt claims that certain news that got spread in newspapers and media was never really there in the final verdict of the honorable Supreme Court. And even the terrorist tag has no legal grounds. The confidence with which the makers and obliviously Sanjay Dutt are saying all this will eventually make the viewer go for a better understanding about all the legal hassles happened in his life and in that sense I would say it is a PR work asking for a valid criticism. It almost feels like Sanjay Dutt is a reviewer who got blamed for ratings and through this film he is asking everyone to at least read the review (My kind of metaphor).
Like I said, Rajkumar Hirani has not made any changes to his style of filmmaking to make this look like a serious biopic. The texture is pretty much similar to every other Hirani movie that had fun, humor, sentiments, and drama. When you are trying to make almost the 40 years of a popular controversial persona, a lot of skipping has to be done and if we enter the theater having an agenda on discovering certain aspects of Sanjay Dutt’s life, chances of getting disappointed is there as the emphasis on the love life of Sanjay Dutt is pretty minimal even though the movie admits that he was a womanizer. The script co-written by Abhijat Joshi is actually about the relationship between a father and son. At the end of the film, there are only two characters which will stay with you for sometime other than Sanju and that are his father and his best friend. Even though the script has the trademark flavor of a Hirani film I kind of felt a bit of a cringe in certain “proud father” sequences as it sounded really cheesy. In a recent interview, DOP Ravi Varman was seen saying he always felt like breaking a conventional look and in Sanju he has opted to keep things on a brighter side, even though the developments in the movie are largely darkish. It is a 160+ minute long movie and the fact that I never felt bored or restless testifies the fact that Rajkumar Hirani has done the editing crisply. Visual effects were fine along with the prosthetic makeup. Songs were trimmed and merged to the narrative neatly.
You might have a different take about the politics of the movie. But one area where everyone will have a unanimous positive feedback will be in the acting department. Ranbir Kapoor is outstanding in the movie as Sanjay Dutt. He has openly admitted that his challenge here was to make the people believe that he is an actor portraying Sanjay Dutt without making them feel that he is mimicking the actor. That’s a really thin line and Ranbir has done a fabulous job in maintaining the balance by being authentic in his diction and body language. The actor uses his ability to play with his eyes to convey the emotions fabulously. Vicky Kaushal is the next star. His performance as Kamlesh was so organic and flawless. More than that the combination of these two on screen had that energy which sort of brought that Raju Hirani vibrancy in the tale. Paresh Rawal manages to bring the grace Sunil Dutt had and his minimal performance was so effective that we can eventually consider Sanju as that Father-Son story. The rest of the cast largely are in cameo roles. Manisha Koirala as Nargis Dutt, Anushka Sharma as the biographer, Diya Mirza as Manyata, Sonam Kapoor as Ruby, Jim Sarbh etc. are all convincing in their respective roles.
There is a lot of fiction inside this biopic as we can see characters becoming an amalgamation of what they wanted to represent. The movie sympathizes with Sanjay Dutt accepting whatever charges that were held legally against him. It is ultimately a story about how a man of poor choices was able to overcome all that with a support system called family. Just like the song that appears when the end credit rolls, Sanju is basically asking you to do the fact checking before believing whatever that gets written outside the judiciary.
Just like the song that appears when the end credit rolls, Sanju is basically asking you to do the fact checking before believing whatever that gets written outside the judiciary.