Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal, Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala & Others
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Sanju as his mother fondly called him, is the title of Rajkumar Hirani’s new film. Making a film about a person who is alive and popular is something that Hindi Cinema rarely gets to experience. It is a film on the controversial life of Sanjay Dutt, the actor.
The film has an anchor of a Father-Son relationship. Paresh Rawal plays Sunil Dutt. The film chronicles around the deep bond that Sunil Dutt & Sanjay Dutt had. Vicky Kaushal plays Sanju’s close friend, Paresh Ghelani. Some of the best scenes occur when Vicky Kaushal and Ranbir are interacting. Vicky Kaushal gets the Gujarati accent spot on. Paresh Rawal’s act as Sunil Dutt deserves applause. Manisha Koirala as Nargis Dutt has a small but impactful role. Most of the film lies on Vicky Kaushal’s & Paresh Rawal’s shoulders apart from the central lead and they both do justice.
By definition, a biopic is a “dramatised” version of a personality that is alive or is historically known to people. Sanju is a one such film. Ranbir slips into the character of Sanju with such ease that after the first five minutes, the audience literally forgets that it is Ranbir Kapoor portraying a character named Sanju. Mark my words, he will win the audience over with his performance & body language. It is a testament of fine craftsmanship, observation, research & unmatched talent. My admiration for Ranbir Kapoor as an actor has grown manifold.
As people already do know, Sanjay Dutt in his real life has had a stint with drugs & the underworld. The scenes in these two phases amp up the emotional & dramatic quotient respectively. As an audience member, I could feel the trouble. The makers have not shied away from showing these two phases, which to their credit have been shrewdly written in the screenplay. It keeps the audience engaged and entertained. Raju Hirani has tried to “humanise” his central character and Ranbir’s portrayal never feels caricatureish; which is hard to achieve for any filmmaker. It is something truly special and will be remembered for long after one has watched the movie. Anushka Sharma plays a journalist. She gets adequate screen time. All the other actors not mentioned here lend able support, albeit having small portions & characters.
Engaging the audience with a compelling screenplay is one of the hardest jobs as a filmmaker & writer. Rajkumar Hirani & Abhijat Joshi have penned the screenplay with conviction. The first half of the film coasts along as required. There are moments replete with dramatic writing which keeps the audience invested in the screenplay. Post Intermission, though, the film does take a dip in its pacing but is nevertheless entertaining and enjoyable. Hirani’s brand of humour serves as a comic relief from some rather tense moments in the film. In my opinion, the screenwriter duo have not “glorified” Dutt’s character but have portrayed his side of the story which includes how his father & family dealt with varied & at times, very dangerous situations, especially with the media, his dynamic with family members which includes his wife, Manyata Dutt, portrayed by Dia Mirza and his friends/girlfriends. It is this manipulation that keeps the audience in wonder and awe.
As far as the technical aspects are concerned, S. Ravi Varman the Cinematographer has done a splendid job. All the scenes are a treat to watch cinematographically, but some of the ones in New York stand out in particular. A special mention to the Production Design & Makeup department has to be made. Vikram Gaikwad is one of the leading Makeup Artists in the Indian film industry. His attention to detail in his prosthetic work is praiseworthy. Alim Hakim, who has done Ranbir’s hair for Sanju has achieved through research, can be termed no less than perfect. Shashank Tere’s production design has a sense of grandeur. The editing of the movie by Rajkumar Hirani is sharp but could have been tighter post intermission.
The music of this film has impressed me to a certain extent. Main Badhiya Tu Bhi Badhiya has a novel concept and has been filmed uniquely . Kar Har Maidaan Fateh is modelled on the inner conflict that Ranbir has portrayed in the film. It is a powerful song which not only suits the story, but is also hummable.
Overall, Sanju is a shrewdly written and well crafted film. The emotions & dramatic aspects of it are at the core of the narrative which the makers & actors have done justice to. It is a bold attempt at filmmaking and should be watched in the Cinema.