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Movie Reviews

Posted at: Jun 29, 2018, 7:18 PM; last updated: Jun 29, 2018, 7:28 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW: SANJU

A meta life, alive on silver screen


Film: Sanju

  • Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Vicky Kaushal, Dia Mirza, Sonam Kapoor, Manisha Koirala and Jim Sarbh
  • Director: Rajkumar Hirani
A meta life, alive on silver screen
A still from Sanju

Nonika Singh

Bad choices make good stories…and who doesn’t know of actor Sanjay Dutt’s record on that as well his tryst with the other side of the law. Sanju, the much hyped biopic on the star, primarily focuses on the two controversies that have dogged and marred his life. If earlier part of his youth was spent battling drug abuse, in 1990s he was embroiled in a TADA case. He not only fought a long court battle, served a sentence and perhaps is still fighting the perception battle on being a terrorist.

The film does go out to establish that he isn’t one and that he was finally convicted only under Arms act. But that part can wait. It’s the racy first half where the director Rajkumar Hirani has been chillingly honest in telling Sanju’s travails that is more gripping. What substance abuse did to Sanjay Dutt comes forth with forceful impact?  It is also the part where Hirani the master story teller is at his entertaining best. 

Of course, Hirani scores a coup with casting alone and has on board a battery of fine actors. Besides, the film reaffirms what promos have already established. Ranbir Kapoor has nailed it as Sanjay Dutt and it’s one hell of a performance. No mean feat since Ranbir himself is a popular star and it takes a while to get over that he is playing another living actor. But that mental block is easily overcome thanks to some phenomenal acting by him. From Sanju’s gait to mannerisms to his vulnerabilities, he gets them all bang on. Actually, both Hirani and Ranbir make you believe and invest in Sanju’s story with empathy and sensitivity even though much is already in public domain.

Indeed, Sanju’s life comprises far too many twists and turns. There are so many chapters and few pages have to go missing. Hence, there is no mention of his ex-wives or  his daughter with Richa Sharma. Perhaps, there is only so much you can tell in a film.  While his present supportive wife Manyata (Dia Mirza) is very much a part of the narrative, it’s his father Sunil Dutt and best friend Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi "Kamli who emerge as his real emotional anchors. If Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt the concerned father is spot on, Kaushal as the Gujju friend is once again fantastic. In fact, it’s in moments with him that Sanju appears most human, likeable and fallible. In a scene Kamli confronts Sanju’s father and asks him to intervene. The words; please tell him it’s ok to be ordinary, it’s ok to be Sanju, not only tug at your heartstrings but also underline the film’s basic tenor. Indeed, this is no superstar’s life that Hirani is offering you to revel in, nor a compendium of his hits or misses. The only two films that find mention is his first Rocky and of course Munnabhai MBBS. It may not be a coincidence that the acclaimed film was directed by Hirani too. But it’s also a film that changed Sanjay’s image both as a person and as an actor. 

Certainly, the film goes where it must and to be fair doesn’t gloss over the dark chapter in his life which earned him much ignominy. But it does not throw that incisive a light on the dark corners, nor does it delve deep enough in the recesses that perhaps only Sanju knows. As the film plays on, as well as, blames the question mark that often accompanies newspaper reports…you may walk out of the theatre with many still gnawing on your mind. But as far as the film goes, we will not leave the all-important one unanswered. Should you watch or not watch the film? Yes...if you are a Sanjay Dutt fan, most certainly if you are Ranbir’s and yes it will make you one of Vicky’s too. Though the book that Anuskha’s character in the film writes, is described as a tale of two fathers, the biggest take-away from the film is the undying friendship between these two friends Sanjay and Kamli. Yaad  karegii dunjya... tera mera yaraana. 

Sanjay Dutt, of course, will be remembered for more than this flick. For the actor in him is very much alive and kicking, as the song in the end where both the real (Sanjay) and reel (Ranbir) actors come together, proves. The film, meanwhile, like his eventful life is an enjoyable rollercoaster ride of emotions.  


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