Nepotism and blatant cronyism are seeded in the very veins of Indian politics and Bollywood. With it comes the heavy load of carrying the ‘Legacy’. A son who is thrown into a pit which demands gladiator-like struggle often finds himself incongruous with his surroundings. Sanju is a story of one such man-child who was overwhelmed by the high pedestal on which both his parents were placed by the public and he almost succeeded in destroying the Dutt legacy. However, the movie takes a carefully crafted road to redemption by focussing on the media trials and tribulations and pleads for vindication from the public by showing a man who simply wasn’t ready for success, in a family where success was inherited.
When Rajkumar Hirani decides to make a film, people stand up and take notice. This time more so, because the movie was about his long term friend and collaborator, Sanjay Dutt. Hirani follows the tried and tested template of light-hearted scenes, sporadic emotional outburst and a focus on bonds to give us a movie which is both entertaining as well as gives us the ‘other side of the story’. What it does not give us is a honest account of events and silently veers away from some serious questions by calling them all a media-trial or hearsay. For example, the reason given to us in the movie for Sanju to own a AK-56 is protection of the family. How sweet and convenient! Historical documentation does not agree with the said claim. Moreover, his visits to Dawood’s house in Dubai and the subsequent friendships with his associates cum producers have been carefully avoided in this glorified ‘misunderstood brat’ movie.
Ranbir Kapoor makes the movie his own and in the process imbibes the typical Dutt mannerisms and attitude to the point. Ranbir is another child of Bollywood with highly successful parents and in this movie he is helping his fellow industry senior to clear his slate and rise further in the public eye. Ranbir, with the help of Sanjay Dutt’s long term hairstylist Aalim Hakim takes us through a historical rendezvous from the actor’s Rocky days to the present pragmatic ways. But we see Hirani’s signature in how Ranbir portrays Sanju. To appeal to the public emotions, the director has intentionally sanitised the character to appear greatly vulnerable and susceptible to influences. More than blaming the man for his decisions, the movie appears to blame the people around and the circumstances.
Where Sanju succeeds tremendously is showing relationships from every angle. The two relationships under focus here are with Sanju’s father, the revered Sunil Dutt and with his friend Kamlesh Kapasi. Paresh Rawal is a towering presence and epitomises the Sunil Dutt aura to the hilt. Some of the best scenes in the movie are enacted between the reel father and son. While Vicky Kaushal gives us another measured and hilarious performance as Sanju’s friend and a major influence in his life. After Raazi, this is another feather in the cap for this seriously talented actor, son of legendary action director Shyam Kaushal. The rest of the supporting cast is carefully selected and hold the script together. None more so than Manisha Koirala who plays Nargis Dutt. Manisha herself had gone through the ordeal of fighting cancer and there was a certain kind of connect on screen to her portrayal of the great mother of Sanju.
The movie is really good, do not get me wrong here. But the dramatization and sequences are subjected to one’s own interpretations. If you go inside to be simply entertained, you will be, notwithstanding the length of the movie. But if you have an eye for facts and you dwell into the chronology of events, I am sure you will find stuff which never got any closure. Hirani has every right to make the movie his way and give us an entertainer that we deserve after surviving through Race 3 a few days ago. Sanjay Dutt’s legacy will be shrouded with question marks which he cannot avoid. But this movie will breathe fresh air to his career and reputation. Making a movie to put his version forward is the best way to reach the Indian masses and when Rajkumar Hirani makes it, along with Ranbir Kapoor, you do not need a judge to try your case.
gobblpoint—Ranbir Kapoor gives a measure of his craft by becoming Sanjay Dutt and delivering a performance which will catapult him to the top, yet again. Watch it for entertainment and entertainment only.
Disclaimer: The images used in this post are the sole property of the makers of this film and are not owned by us in any form whatsoever.