High on drugs, accused of being hand in glove with those involved in the 1993 Black Friday blasts, claims to have more than 308 girlfriends at one time. Not the best person to start with, eh? But that’s our quirky superstar, Sanjay Dutt for you. Son of the illustrious actors Sunil Dutt and Nargis, Sanjay Dutt is now in prominence once again, as his tumultuous life has been brought on screen by famous director Raj Kumar Hirani. Starring Ranbir Kapoor as the superstar, the biopic titled ‘Sanju’, is now out for release at the silver screens. So here’s my honest review of Sanju: One Man, Many lives.
Sanju Review: Plot Sketch:-
Son of famous actors Sunil Dutt and Nargis, Sanju is a spoilt brat, who struggles to cope up with his father’s expectations and his own battle with drugs. Hardly does he recover from the menace, when he is accused of storing weapons illegally and being hand in glove with those involved in 1993 Bombay blasts. How he overcomes these challenges and how he turns into the quirky but lovable ‘Sanju Baba’ is what this movie intends to portray.
To be frank enough, with such a meaty topic, one does feel apprehensive. Given that Bollywood has been a mixed bag with respect to giving good biopics, one can be forgiven for doubting the outcome of a movie like ‘Sanju’. To our surprise, this movie turns out to be fairly well, and avoids the clichés and propaganda that had made ‘Azhar’ a huge disaster. Though it could’ve been better, ‘Sanju’ is a biopic that one can certainly not afford to miss.
Sanju Review: What’s Good:-
‘Sanju’, to start with, is not our regular Bollywood biopic. Directed by Rajkumar Hirani, this film has a comic undertone in terms of narrating the story, something very rare in Indian cinema. It’s certainly not a cakewalk to sum up the life of one of the most controversial actors of the Hindi film industry into just 2 and half hours on the silver screen. But to the delight of the cinemagoers, director Hirani had just succeeded in the same.
The songs, though above average, fit in beautifully with the narrative of the movie, which is certainly a welcome relief from what the moviegoers endured in ‘Race 3’, with songs ruining the pace of the movie. The film also manages to crackle us up with the humor and emotions only Rajkumar Hirani is best at portraying.
Sanju Review: What’s Awesome:-
‘Sanju’ has a few, but really memorable moments. One of the best things about ‘Sanju’ is that despite the opportunity to turn into one, it did not become an ‘Azhar’, i.e. a PR exercise, whitewashing Sanju Baba. In fact, Sanjay Dutt was himself okay with his biopic not glorifying his flaws, which in itself is a huge victory for Bollywood, which otherwise is notorious for normalizing serious crimes and flaws.
Another victory of this movie is the titular role, played by Ranbir Kapoor. One is free to debate on the same, but there are very few actors, who really get into the skin of their character, and make us forget that they’re only playing the character on screen. So is the case with Ranbir Kapoor, who made us forget that he is not Sanjay Dutt! He essayed the different phases of Sanju Baba’s life with such finesse, from his drug addiction to his release from jail in 2016, that anyone watching this movie would leave the hall with a large smile on his / her face. A nice credit should also go to the people, who spent hours in creating the right prosthetics for the latter part of Sanjay Dutt’s life.
Equally awesome was the supporting cast, of whom Vicky Kaushal stood out as the diamond of this movie. Starring as Sanjay Dutt’s lesser known pal, Paresh [Kamlesh in the movie], Vicky gives Ranbir a tough run for the money in terms of acting, and stands out as a brilliant performer in his own right. When a supporting actor gets more praise than the real one, you know how brilliant Vicky was in this movie. No wonder why he is considered an able successor to the likes of Manoj Bajpayee, Irrfan Khan, Kay Kay Menon, Randeep Hooda etc.
Even though a bit awkward as the choice for portraying the majestic, happy go lucky superstar, Paresh Rawal did not disappoint a single bit as the legendary Sunil Dutt. Manisha Koirala, who was returning to the silver screen in a major role after 15 long years, was close to brilliant as the legendary Nargis. Dia Mirza also impressed as Manyata Dutt, who stood with Sanjay in his most testing times, solid as a rock. Others like Mahesh Manjrekar, Boman Irani, Jim Sarbh etc. also impressed in the limited screen space they had.
Sanju Review: What’s Bad:-
Though ‘Sanju’ avoided becoming an ‘Azhar’, it still missed the mark of a worthy biopic by a few inches. What pulled this movie behind were a few factors, which could’ve been seriously avoided by Rajkumar Hirani, and made ‘Sanju’ the first genuine blockbuster of 2018.
For starters, the inclusion of Sonam Kapoor’s was not only awkward, but a massive bore. Portraying the spoilt brat she is anyway notorious as, Sonam disappointed as Sanju’s love interest, with little to no variety in her role. Another awkward role was that of Anushka Sharma, who is purported to have portrayed a mix of both Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi, as the narrator. Though she tried her best, Anushka was far from impressive in her role as Sanju’s biographer.
The most surprising misses, however, were the incidents that formed an important part of Sanju’s life. For instance, the story of Richa Sharma, whose sweet love story with Sanjay Dutt was cut short by a brain tumor in 1996, was not discussed at all.
Equally surprising was the omission of Sanju’s association with his second wife, Rhea Pillai, who was also romantically involved with tennis sensation Leander Paes. Even the Black Friday blasts angle was covered only on surface, with no in depth research. While it might not appeal to some, but even the role of Balasaheb Thackeray in pulling Sanjay Dutt out of his own mess was not touched at all.
To cut the long story short, Sanju is a classic Raj Kumar Hirani style biopic of the maverick superstar that Sanjay Dutt has been. It is sweet, it is quirky, and it is quite real, though it could’ve been better. Had it not been for a few glitches, this movie could’ve covered miles. I’d give this movie a 3/5.