Film: Sanju

Director: Rajkumar Hirani

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Vicky Kaushal, Manisha Koirala, Dia Mirza, Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor, Jim Sarbh and Boman Irani.

Rating: ****

Rajkumar Hirani is a reliable filmmaker, it has been proved once again. For a producer, he is the hen that lays golden eggs because every film directed by him has been a blockbuster – both commercially and critically. Sanjay Dutt has acted in three of his four films and it won’t be surprising for anyone that Hirani directed Sanju – a film that makes the audience read between the lines of the ‘alleged’ accusations by the media on Sanjay Dutt.

Sanju starts off with Sanjay Dutt (Ranbir Kapoor) reading out a chapter from his biography which is written by a lyricist wherein he is compared to Mahatma Gandhi and he immediately kicks out that writer. He is struck with the news that he will be in jail again to complete his term and is given 30 days to surrender. His wife Manyata (Dia Mirza) suggests him to hire a good biographer who can tell his side of the tale. And so he finds Winnie (Anushka Sharma) who hesitates in writing his story but Sanjay Dutt convinces her and then Sanju unfolds.

Manisha Koirala in her extended cameo performs well as she portrays the evergreen ‘Nargis’. She doesn’t have many scenes but the one scene where she is acting normal because she wants her son to know about her illness is amazing. Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt is stellar as a father who is constantly in worry of his child’s future. His confrontation scene with the editor of some newspaper is poignantly done by him and it is in that scene that we realise how the Press exactly twist and turn things to extract spice out of anybody’s life. Anushka Sharma as the biographer is mostly a listener in the film rather than actor. Dia Mirza’s role is also short but she still does a fair job.

Jim Sarbh as the drug peddler is spot-on in every scene. He performs the character of the person who motivated Sanju to be a drug addict as he kept on extracting money from Sanju. Vicky Kaushal is the other soul of the film other than Ranbir. Vicky portrays Sanjay Dutt’s best friend Kamlesh’s role and performs it with pure excellence. His emotions and expressions rightly match and cast a lasting impression on the audience. Ranbir Kapoor is surely the biggest part of the film and the best performer too. He mimics the intricacies of the body language of ‘Sanju Baba’ in the rightful way. His voice although doesn’t do much justice to the bold voice of Sanjay Dutt but it is not something which should irk.

The background music adheres to the auteurship of Rajkumar Hirani and is something which exudes positivity with the orchestrated tunes. The album consists of four songs; one of them is the Sanjay Dutt cameo song which resonate Dutt’s frustration with the baseless allegations of media on him. Musically the best song of the lot is AR Rahman’s trippy ‘Ruby Ruby’, but lyrically Kar Har Maidan Fateh is a fantastic song written by Shekhar Astitwa. Main Badhiya Tu Bhi Badhiya excels as it explores Sanju’s first brush with drugs.

The background music is the only thing that abides by the auteurship of Hirani, rest the film doesn’t feel like being made by him. His other films were brimmed with hilarious one-liners and laugh-riot scenes but here the film has less humour and banks more on emotional depth. The film’s climax is also not like the emotional public speech scene in his every film. His every film has a plot in which the theme is against some system like Munna Bhai MBBS was against the medical practices, its sequel was against violence and superstitions, 3 Idiots was against the educational practices and lastly PK was against superstitions too but here in Sanju the film just hints to be against media practices but confines itself towards being a biopic. The film addresses just two dark tales of Sanjay Dutt’s twisty life – His drug addiction and his jail term. Hirani skips all the grey areas of Sanju baba’s Bollywood relations and his wives other than Manyata. The film about a Bollywood star yet again fails to get us an insight into Bollywood – maybe the film would’ve got much longer if Hirani added those aspects but it would’ve been worth it because the 168 minutes of ‘Sanju’ were gripping.

The film is surely a must watch even though it is unlike the other blockbusters by Rajkumar Hirani.

(The writer is a freelance contributor)