Critic’s Rating: 4/5
Sanju Review: One man, many lives is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Sanjay Dutt. Rajkumar Hirani’s film presents a vivid and very dramatic look in this biopic of sorts. The film starts off with Sanjay Dutt (Ranbir Kapoor) wanting a writer for his biography even while he’s preparing to surrender himself to the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Arms Act case. A film writer fails him miserably, so Sanju turns to a more established writer Winnie (Anushka Sharma) to pen his biography. His confessions and recollections to Winnie are intimate and give us deep insights into the highs and lows of his life, which is nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. Like any Rajkumar Hirani film, Sanju blends humour with drama effortlessly. While it doesn’t reveal much about the protagonists’ relationships and marriages, it does tell a strong story of an unbreakable bond between a father, son and a best friend. In fact, Sanjay’s relationship with his father Sunil Dutt (Paresh Rawal) forms the major part of this story and some of the most heart wrenching and touching moments in the film belong to both of them.
Manisha Koirala as Nargis Dutt (Sanju’s mother) has a brief role, but the scenes between the father, mother and son move you to tears.
There’s also his best friend Kamlesh (Vicky Kaushal) who’s one of the most important characters in the graph of the story and he leaves a solid impact. Maanyata (Dia Mirza) his wife’s strong presence is felt right throughout the film, but his previous marriages have been completely left out of the narrative. Even the birth of his first child, daughter Trishala doesn’t feature in this heart-rending story. The absence of these aspects of Sanju’s life leave the viewer craving for a tad bit more. The first half is extremely gripping, with Sanju struggling with his inner demons. The second half is spent on elaborating his court cases and it reiterates the thought that he’s not a terrorist. The fact that Sanjay Dutt’s real life presents great material for a story on celluloid is unquestionable. Hirani beautifully taps into some deep emotions that keeps the audience drawn to the screen. Even though the film feels long, the film industry nostalgia and the many references to old Hindi film music keep you hooked on.
Ranbir Kapoor is just as good as his reputation. To state that he’s an incredible actor who fills Sanjay Dutt’s role with gravitas and spunk is stating the obvious. That’s expected from a talented actor like Ranbir. But what he does best in Sanju, is that he delivers the central character’s swag and nonchalance in the most effortless manner. Whether he’s dancing like a hysterical man, with bloodshot eyes under the influence of drugs or he’s the broken, emotional wreck just staring blank, Ranbir portrays a variety of emotions and grey shades with flair. He’s the heart and soul of this film. One of the finest performances in the film comes from Vicky Kaushal. He stands tall and pulls off a superb act as Ranbir’s best friend who stands by him like a rock.
AR Rahman, Rohan-Rohan and Vikram Montrose’s music sets mood right. Songs like Kar Har Maidan Fateh and Ruby Ruby add to the experience of the film. The background score is top notch too. The drugs infused phase of Sanju’s life is the most impressive and it has been portrayed with the right amount of sensitivity. It has some fantastic visuals and some crazy emotions too.
Presenting a biopic on a man with so many shades and one who’s lived a life of such extremes is a no mean feat. Hirani, in his signature style, takes you through Sanju’s remarkable journey with the finesse and commitment it needs. In the film, Sanju’s wife says that he’s the king of bad choices, and Hirani’s idea of making a film on his life has certainly paid off. Yes, there’s a lot missing, but even then, this is still an incredible story of a man and a movie star who made massive mistakes, walked through fire, survived it and lived one heck of a life.