So I saw Sanju. I know it’s pretty late for a review but still, I’d like to throw my two pennies. A movie that has become the talk of the town/city/country and continents. Everytime Rajkumar Hirani hits us with his latest directorial offering, we lap it up without questioning it. Of course his last outing with Aamir Khan in 2004 was the social drama cum comedy PK, did offend some sections of the society but still the movie was a runaway success. With PK doing such a fantastic business at the box office, expectations touched new heights with respect to business and quality content from a Rajkumar Hirani movie and hence followed Sanju.
Troubled superstar Sanjay Dutt, who had a cult status during the 90’s with hits like Saajan, Sadak, Khalnayak and many more, had always much more going in the background than on the reel. Everybody knew that. He was the quintessential “Bad Boy” of Bollywood before Salman Khan took that tag away from him. People still loved him despite his flaws, which is why Munnabhai M.B.B.S and its subsequent part were massive hits and are regarded as one of Dutt’s finest performances. Of course Hirani was the director.
While watching Sanju, one could definitely feel a friend trying to brush the flaws of his friend under the carpet, labeling them as “Bad choices”. Yes, Dutt is shown doing drugs, boasting about how many girls he’s slept with, his connections with the underworld, his court trials & his time at the jail and also his undying hatred for the media. The movie is divided into the battles that he had to fight (and is still fighting). The first half is solely dedicated to his addiction to drugs, which at many instances feel like stretched for too long, like the scene where he goes to the hospital to console his girlfriend while being under influence and ends up getting slapped. Scenes like these make you feel that the Editor who also happens to don the Director’s hat could have worked a little smarter and shortened the length of the movie by at least 20 minutes. It’s a 2 hours 41 minutes long movie by the way.
The second part is what all of us paid the money for. The part where Sanju battles with the system, media and his ghosts from the past. This part is very nicely set up by aligning the storyline with Vicky Kaushal’s character of Kamlesh Kapasi, who also happens to be on screen Sanju’s friend, befriended in The United States during a very dark phase in our protagonists life. The second part is also the one that packs a punch because of the dynamic duo, Paresh Rawal & Vicky Kaushal. Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt is fantastic and delivers a great performance. The pain of a father who is losing his son is evident in his tone and eyes. Vicky Kaushal’s “Kamli” as called by Sanju and his father in the movie, is a treat to watch.
The movie is mostly shouldered on Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal and Paresh Rawal. Three of them portray their characters beautifully, but still it is Vicky Kaushal who takes away the prize followed closely by Paresh Rawal. Ranbir at times is simply mimicking Dutt than acting, which is a big turn off. Anushka Sharma has a very simple role to essay here, which she does nicely. Dia Mirza too has a line or two which are just about fine and nothing great to write about. Manisha Koirala as Dutt’s mother, Nargis, is a big letdown as she’s unable to match the character she’s playing. I felt that Sonam Kapoor has actually played her part with utmost honesty with whatsoever she had. She conveyed the hurt emotions very evidently. Sadly, this movie never even once highlights the role of Priya Dutt, Sanjay’s sister who tirelessly fought for him along with her father when he was in jail. That is quite shocking. We all saw how Priya Dutt was the face of the Dutt household after her father’s demise. Not even one dialogue has been spared for the character. And just forget about Namrata Dutt.
By the time I’m typing this, the movie has already grossed around Rs. 145 crores at the Indian box office. But I would still like to make some points. The movie fails at many angles. First off, the addiction to drugs is justified to a bad choice and a means to escape from the reality. I don’t agree to it one bit. Secondly, the association to underworld is shown in a very hasty manner as if it’s nothing. Sanju agreeing to his meetings in Dubai is shown as a very usual thing. Third, I understand that Hirani is the only director who can portray dark scenes in a humoristic manner, but the scene at the hospital with Sonam Kapoor or the caricature of a very important political figure of India is what I felt was very much pedestrian for a director of his stature. Sad things rolled in humor doesn’t make it fine but instead makes it much more cringe-worthy. Many scenes are cliched like when people start calling out names to Sunil Dutt and he had to hide his face. I mean seriously?!
Music is good, apart from that one song Main Badhiya, which again is a sad caricature. Kar Har Maidan Fateh is a really catchy track. Screenplay also feels deviated at some times and many characters make a hasty exits halfway through the movie like Jim Sarbh’s Zubin Mistry a.k.a. God. Even how he’s become a construction magnate is not shown in the movie. Maybe a sequel or a spinoff showing his successful turnaround is being planned by the studio….hehe.
This movie of Hirani looks by far the one that has the least content and more hype and dramatization. All the hoopla around Sanjay Dutt and how he’s unhappy at Ranbir Kapoor playing him to Ranbir Kapoor’s confession of love for Alia Bhatt, every possible P.R. trick was used to get this movie a flying start. A lot was on line for Ranbir Kapoor, so it all makes sense plus his next one is with Alia Bhatt so that makes sense x2. Hirani was better off with a Munnabhai or at least should be now as this movie doesn’t do justice to neither Dutt, Hirani, Ranbir and finally the audiences who waited so eagerly for this one. Come on we expected more and both of us (you and the audience) know that this is not a biopic but a big budget image restructuring for Sanjay Dutt, whose credibility is at an all time low. And I actually resonate with Salman Khan when he said that Sanjay Dutt should have played a part himself or at least the part of the narrator. Well, it is that awkward moment when your friend makes a movie about you and doesn’t include you even though acting is your profession and bread & butter. Or he just indirectly hinted that it’s not a biopic instead all the characters in the film are fictional including the story. And one more thing Mr. Dutt, I loved your movies, be it Sadak or Lage Raho Munnabhai, hell I was even excited when they announced Munnabhai Chale America, stop blaming. Yes, stop blaming anyone for your bad choices or failures. You blamed bad times for getting high, you blamed the media for your court trials and you blamed fear for entertaining the underworld Dons. On behalf of media I’d like to say that, media is the reason we’re seeing this movie, they have promoted it well and glorified your full of mistakes life. If not for them we couldn’t care less for a Sanju!
I’ll give this movie 3 happy rams out of 5!
Looking forward to your next Mr. Hirani.