The trailer of Sanju seemed to have promised complexity and actuality. While the film may be a representation of actual events, the story isn’t complex. The film sure is a biopic, but a convenient one, that pulls and pushes strings according to the convenience of both, Rajkumar Hirani and Sanjay Dutt.
In the very beginning of the film, Dutt (Ranbir Kapoor) and Manyata (Dia Mirza) are listening to a writer who is reading from Sanjay Dutt’s biography which he was hired to write. Lines into it, Dutt gets furious, burns the book and claims that nobody knows the real him. By the end of the film, neither did I. What I really didn’t like from the onset was the fact that the final purpose of the plot was to find a writer to write the Dutt Biography, which was eventually written by Anushka Sharma’s Winnie Dias. And what I didn’t like even more was the fact that I never got to see the psychological tendencies of this man, who is into drugs and accused of terrorism. There definitely would have been reasons as to why Sanjay Dutt ventured into drugs, why he had a gun in his possession, why did he sleep with more than 350 women and so on and so forth. We are told the reasons, but not shown. And the way the film has been made, it tells us that Dutt, maybe never had a reason for himself. He would always blame it on something/someone else, or I believe this was done for the convenience of the plot. he was into drugs because the peddler lured him, his relationship with Ruby (Sonam Kapoor) ended because he was on drugs, he had a gun because of the Babri Masjid incident. So, if there is a problem in his life, there isn’t a solution but there is an excuse.
The good part about the film, is the acting, even by Sonam Kapoor, who has a very small role, but she does good. Anushka Sharma comes and goes, but does really good with whatever little she is given. Dia Mirza as Manyata has been used as a mere prop but she does the best to her ability. Manisha Koirala as Nargis is beyond amazing. Paresh Rawal plays Sunil Dutt, a major character in the film, but delivers a very one tone performance. An actor of his caliber can do so much with such a character, but it was perhaps the writing that lost the race.
Coming to Ranbir Kapoor – this man is a genius. Absolutely no one could have played Sanjay Dutt how Kapoor plays him. He catches every emotion – anger, fear, love, hate – of Dutt and brings his brilliance to the screen. After a series of films not working, Kapoor proves that he is, indeed, one of the best we have.
But the show stealer here is Vicky Kaushal. I have genuinely never cried during a film but seeing Kaushal’s Kamlesh weep terribly for his best friend made me shed a tear. His performance is that moving and real.
I think the purpose of the film was not to tell Dutt’s story but to un-establish him as a terrorist. The director focuses a lot on his relationship with his father and best friend, and forget a very important part of Dutt’s life, his wife, Manyata. I wanted to know what a brilliant support system she has been, of her days in this evil world as he spent time in jail, and of the trauma their kids went through. But sadly, I got to see nothing.
All in all, Sanju is a good entertainer and re-establishes Ranbir Kapoor as a powerhouse actor, but it’s neither a biopic, nor a great film. It’s a good film with brilliant performances, but not a great film.
If I had to rate the film,