By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | June 29, 2018
Rating: 3 / 5
The essence: The film is an attempt to reiterate the Supreme Court judgement which stated that “Sanjay Dutt is not a terrorist.” Having said that, it is entertaining with some teary-eyed moments but leaves that ‘little something’ out which could have made it sharper. It is not all that honest in that sense!
In July 2013, K S Ravikumar, director of Policegiri, a Sanjay Dutt-Prachi Desai starrer, had got so emotional [two months earlier Sanjay Dutt was sent to jail, yet again for six years], that as the film ended and the end credits rolled, one read these lines: The hunt continues… Baba will be back. ‘The hunt continues’ was in keeping with the character he played in that film (DCP Rudra) who eliminated all the bad guys. ‘Baba will be back’ was to reassure the audience!
There is a scene in Sanju where Paresh Rawal playing Sunil Dutt walks into a Newspaper office and confronts the Editor whose articles on Sanjay (conjecture, of course) has headlines with a Question Mark. One such headline reads Finished? Editor asks Dutt Sr. whether he will go to court. He replies, “You have James Bond, how can I fight you?” Perplexed, the Editor asks how? He is told that if the matter reaches the court, “You will fight by saying, ‘according to sources’, ‘alleged’, ‘it has been reported’ and point out to the question mark in the headline. That’s your 007.” He walks away before pinning the same headline by knocking off the question mark and writing NOT above Finished!
Welcome back, Baba! You are not finished!
Also, welcome Ranbir Kapoor who essays a brilliant performance impersonating Sanjay Dutt in mind, body and spirit. Watching Ranbir on screen you only see Sanjay. Such is his command over the character. Such is his confidence in his mannerisms. I cannot imagine any other actor doing justice to this role. He gob-smacks you with his understanding of the character and what he has to portray.
Another actor who hits the high notes is Vicky Kaushal who plays Kamlesh, his best friend from America. It’s a treat when the two are on screen. The talent these two bring on the table and the manner in which they perform their respective roles is brilliant. If Ranbir is exceptional, Vicky is class. Both these actors make for some riveting and memorable scenes on screen.
Another actor who surprises is Jim Sarbh, in a completely different role with a brand new body language to suit his character. Standing quietly in the corner, on the periphery so to speak, but lending weight to the script is Dia Mirza who plays Manyata Dutt. There’s this one scene where Ruby (Anushka Sharma), who is writing Sanjay’s biography, asks Sanjay how many women he has slept with, in front of his wife. Dia’s expressions are to die for. There is no judgement; a simple facial ‘I-know-it-all’ expression, along with that subtle body movement, sums up her affection for her man. Ranbir of course, knocks off this question with honesty!
Paresh Rawal on the other hand, does not lend that ‘simple intensity’ that would have made the character of Sunil Dutt complete. He is more Paresh Rawal the actor rather than Paresh Rawal who plays Sunil Dutt.
Coming back to the film, it is an attempt to reiterate the Supreme Court judgement which stated that “Sanjay Dutt is not a terrorist.” But Dutt’s grouse with the media remains: “They did not focus on that, what was important, but went to town on the six-year jail term!” His angst with the media is highlighted in the final song after the movie ends. Dutt himself comes on the screen with Ranbir with a song which has a line that goes thus: “Loop mein diya jhoot baar baar; sachayi ka diya pichwada phaad!”
Rajkumar Hirani has tried to be as honest as possible showing Dutt as he is or as he is understood from what has been written about him. But with 161 minutes focusing majorly on the aspect of his Court cases, it gets a bit too taxing. There is no mention of his first wife Richa Sharma or his daughter Trishala. Neither is there any mention of Rhea Pillai who stood like a rock by his side during his prison term. Then there is also his friendship with Salman Khan, which has not been touched upon.
Sanju is entertaining with some teary-eyed moments but leaves that ‘little something’ out that could have made it sharper. It is not all that honest in that sense!
Producer: Rajkumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Fox Star Studios
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Star Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Vicky Kaushal, Dia Mirza, Paresh Rawal, Anushka Sharma