'Sanju': Movie Review

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews
Ranbir Kapoor and Vicky Kaushal in Sanju
Ranbir Kapoor and Vicky Kaushal in Sanju
Sanju, the much-awaited Sanjay Dutt biopic directed by Rajkumar Hirani, has finally hit the theatres. Produced by Vinod Chopra Films and Rajkumar Hirani Films in association with Fox Star Studios, Sanju costars Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala, Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor, Dia Mirza, Vicky Kaushal, Jim Sarbh and Boman Irani. The biggest challenge of making a biopic on Sanjay Dutt is to capture his unpredictably complicated yet larger-than-life persona. It is really incredible how Sanajy Dutt despite all odds has managed to reinvent himself over the last four decades. Now, in the rushes, we already saw Ranbir playing the different phases of Dutt’s life with considerable ease. In fact, the teaser alone managed to set our expectations sky high. Soon the trailer was unleashed and our hopes went even higher. But, now is the acid test. Is the movie really as good?

I would begin by saying that the best part of Sanju is when Sanjya Dutt himself appears on the screen for the first and only time as part of an item number in which he performs with Ranbir Kapoor. But for that one has to wait until after the credits begin to roll. Seeing Sanjay and Ranbir together in that song sequence is enough for any keen-eyed viewer to understand that there is only one Sanjay Dutt (with all his swag and nonchalance) and anyone who tries to imitate him, as good as he may be, will always be a distant second.

Now, the biggest shortcoming of Sanju is that it little more than just a father-son story and leaves many facets of Sanjay Dutt's life unexplored (clearly both Hirani and Dutt have played it safe). Remember, how Sanjay Dutt had taken offence to Yaseer Usman’s book on his life ‘The Crazy Untold Story of Bollywood’s Bad Boy’. After sending a legal notice to the publisher, Dutt had tweeted: “I hope better sense will prevail and there will be no further excerpts that will hurt me or my family. My official autobiography will be out soon which will be authentic and based on facts.”

Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt in Sanju
Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt in Sanju
There is no denying that drugs and TADA are important chapters of his life (even though a lot of it is already in the public domain) but they aren't the only things worth mentioning in his life. The movie doesn’t mention about his first two wives, Richa Sharma and Rhea Pillai, and his daughter Trishala born out of his marriage with Sharma. Also, it is well know that his sister Priya has been a great pillar of support for him throughout his struggles but the film doesn’t really give her any voice. While the film does make a playful reference to the 300 odd women in his life but it eschews from revealing anything specific about his romantic involvements with his female costars. As a result Sanjay Dutt's life gets reduced to a caricature of sorts.

The only other relationship that the film properly explores is Sanjay's bonding with his US-based Gujarati friend played by Vicky Kaushal. In fact, it is Kaushal who steals the limelight from Ranbir at key junctures in the film, bringing much needed respite with his great comic timing and inimitable Gujarati accent. As for Ranbir, while he is brilliant playing the younger versions of Dutt, he looks rather uneasy playing the older Dutt. The movie's biggest surprise, however, is how well Paresh Rawal portrays Sunil Dutt. I was personally shocked to learn that Rawal had been signed to play Dutt but having finally seen him in the movie all my doubts have been put to rest.

A still from Rajkumar Hirani's Sanju, Ranbir Kapoor, Jail
A still from Rajkumar Hirani's Sanju
Overall, Sanju has its moments but as the story progresses it gradually begins to loosen its grip. The acting performances are solid all around. Apart from Vicky Kaushal, Ranbir Kapoor and Paresh Rawal another actor who deserves a special mention is Jim Sarbh who yet again impresses in a rather insignificant role. The movie’s focus is more on redeeming Sanjay Dutt than telling an honest story. It is the kind of a film that one would expect from an average filmmaker but from someone like Rajkumar Hirani one is bound to expect better. In other words, Sanju falls short of my expectations and by some distance. Having said that, here is a film that a moviebuff can’t really miss. So, go and watch it if you can't resist the temptation but without setting your expectations too high as it is the only way to avoid any major disappointment.

Rating: 6/10

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!  

Sanju - Offcial Trailer (YouTube) 

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