Film Review: SANJU

Genre: Biography, Drama, Comedy
Rating: 3.5/5
162 minutes
Director: Rajkumar Hirani

Clearly deviating from their forte — comedy (Munnabhai films, 3 Idiots), established writers Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi have tried their best to incorporate elements of the genre in their biopic of Sanjay Dutt — ‘Sanju’. The film traces certain phases of Dutt’s chequered life which is vibrantly brought alive by Ranbir Kapoor.
“Bad choices make good stories”, says Sanju’s wife Maanyata (Dia Mirza), a statement which perhaps encapsulates the trying times and tribulations of the protagonist — who, as the film depicts in the rather lengthy runtime of 162 minutes, was his own antagonist at various stages in his life.
The opening lines of the film clearly declare that cinematic liberties have been taken in portraying the life of an individual. But if the screenplay of the film is to be believed, Sanju had at least two significant Parsee influences in the earlier stages in his life: Zubin Mistry (Jim Sarbh) who introduced him to drugs before becoming a construction baron, and a girlfriend before his first marriage — Ruby (Sonam Kapoor). While Sanjay’s tryst with the latter was shortlived (at least on screen), the former’s influence on Sanju seems to be the focal point of the film, at least in the first half.
The film opens with a failed attempt at Sanju getting his autobiography penned; the Supreme Court granting him one month to turn himself in after rejecting his bail application makes him look around for another biographer. He finds one in Winnie Diaz (Anoushka Sharma): their conversations forming the bulk of the film.
If the viewer expects juicy tidbits of his personal life, he would be sorely disappointed. Missing are his rumoured Bollywood affairs, as also his earlier marriage and daughter by it.
Though his bond with his mother Nargis (Manisha Koirala) is succinctly brought out, the film revolves around two relationships — with father Sunil Dutt (a terribly miscast Paresh Rawal) and his US friend Kamlesh (a brilliant performance by Vicky Kaushal). A major chunk of the film is devoted to his repeated drug addiction and the question whether possession of an AK-56 would justifiably label him a terrorist.
Hirani and Joshi, creditably, do not shy away from certain facts of Sanjay’s life, at the same time depicting the Fourth Estate (press) as the main villain.
Hirani loyalist Boman Irani in a special appearance as Homi, Ruby’s harangued father is impressive, though one thought as a retired naval officer, he could have been given a more austere and authoritarian demeanor.
The writers, in their penchant for comedy have relied on time-tested Guju jokes such as ‘hole ma snakes chhey’ and ‘kha, pa, chha’.
Overall, it’s a welcome biopic which would enthral fans of Ranbir Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt alike; come awards night and Ranbir and Vicky Kaushal look to be strong contenders for being winners in their respective categories.

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