With record breaking numbers and Rajkumar Hirani’s name, Sanju is no doubt raking in perfectly at the box office. The film follows the story of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who is famous for his involvement in terrorism, womanizing, drug and alcohol abuse as much as for his acting career.
The film begins with Dutt and his wife watching as his prison sentence is announced on TV, and the two then seek to find the perfect writer to pen his real story. The story then follows him through his drug addiction, his mother’s death, his weapons possession and his prison time. While one might have hoped that Sanju is the real story, it is more of a vague portrayal of some events in Dutt’s life.
No doubt Ranbir Kapoor has essayed every stage of Dutt’s life impeccably, from his dialogue delivery to that signature swag-walk. Alas, that remains the highlight of the film that drags on for the first half, focusing far too much on Dutt’s drug addiction, rehabilitation and relapse. Rajkumar Hirani (director) and Abhijat Joshi (writer) have failed to do justice to the controversial story of the actor, and it is clearly a biased account more than a biopic.
It is no doubt difficult to decide which life events to include in a 2 hour 40 minutes film, but the fact that his past two marriages and eldest daughter were not even mentioned is a huge flaw in the story. His past marriages and his involvement in terrorism were perhaps the most controversial aspects of his life, which needed to be shown with more clarity.
While on one hand his arms possession is depicted as a big misunderstanding, his involvement and close links with gangsters is completely sidelined. His recorded confessions of being involved in the Mumbai attacks and how Sanjay Dutt came to know gangster Abu Saleem are not explored as they should have been. Apart from Bhandu Dada there is no mention of Dutt’s affiliation with any other local gangster, or even his political connections. Most surprisingly there is no mention of gangster Dawood Ibrahim or of Dutt’s infamous connection with him.
The film aims to place the blame on other people as well as circumstances for Dutt’s behaviour and problems, showing him more as the victim than anything else. Ultimately, it is seemingly concluded that the sensationalisation of the media was what painted a bad picture of the actor.
All in all, Sanju remains a half-truth, with great performances by Ranbir Kapoor, and Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt. Sonam Kapoor and Dia Mirza deliver convincing performances as his early girlfriend and wife, respectively. Though Anushka Sharma’s inconsistent British accent, as the biographer Winnie Dias, is only a minor flaw in the bigger picture, it is one that cannot be excused.