Direction: Rajkumar Hirani
Production: Vinod Chopra Films, Rajkumar Hirani Films
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Dia Mirza, Vicky Kaushal, Jim Sarbh
Story & Screenplay: Rajkumar Hirani, Abhijat Joshi
Cinematography: S. Ravi Varman
Editing: Rajkumar Hirani
Music: Rohan Pradhan, Vikram Montrose
Prosthetics Make Up Artist: Clover Wootton
Hindi / Biography, Drama / 155 mins / India / 2018
When you walk into watch Sanju and watch it you should – you will see only Sanjay Dutt. That is right. Please don’t look for Ranbir Kapoor because he is not there. It is Sanjay Dutt all the way – and you will have to pinch yourself more than once to remember that it is actually Ranbir Kapoor who is portraying Sanju baba – one of Hindi film industry’s most controversial figures onscreen. But of Ranbir a little later. For his part, director-editor Rajkumar Hirani ensures from scene one that you only see what he wants you to see.
Sanju is innocence, naughtiness, earnestness and goodness personified. And despite his addiction to drugs; alcohol; women; the not-so straight path; links with the underworld; fact that he owned an AK-56 assault rifle and that he was charge-sheeted in a TADA case – he comes across as a man wronged, primarily because the media has portrayed him as such. Or so Rajukumar Hirani would have us believe. And the only thing Sanju objects to is being called a terrorist and once the top court vindicates him, all is well with his world. Sanju is a film that compels you to keep at bay the cynicism and opinion, you have had of Sanju Baba for decades together, aside.
He is surrounded by a great supportive wife (read Dia Mirza playing Maanyata); fantastic friend in Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi (a brilliant performance by Vicky Kaushal who is essaying a mix of Sanju’s closest pals) and a never-say-die father (Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt). Both Kaushal and Rawal have outdone themselves as examples of rock solid support that Sanjay has had in his life. But there is more.
Even where Sanjay Dutt is shown as a flawed personality – his having been a drug addict; misbehavior with some of his girlfriends; admission to having slept with over 300 women and shady links with anti-social elements, Sanju is shown in an empathetic light. It feels like glossy, warm paint over a wall actually covered with seepage and cracks. In that sense, Sanju is not a true biopic. It is not gritty or real slice of life for a life so colourfully lived.
Yet, it is worth watching – for the warm father-son relationship it captures; for the bond of friendship that is thicker than blood; for the man who really did suffer - either because of his mistakes or wrong choices or circumstances. Also watch it to see how it paints a not-so-pretty picture of media: how its insensitivity and little concern with facts and truth can affect real lives.
But most of all watch Sanju for Ranbir: the man who brings it all alive. He is created by the very clever, prosthetics make-up artist Clover Wootton. Scene one, shot one and you forget that it is Ranbir. The actor’s own hardwork at cloning the real man’s attitude, overt mannerisms and accent only add to the film’s flavor. Ranbir steals your heart once more – this time as Sanju! Enjoy the warmth, forget the man.