Rating: 3* / 5*
Duration: 2 hr 41 mnt
Producer: Rajkumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Star Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Vicky Kaushal, Manisha Koirala, Dia Mirza, Sonam Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Jim Sarbh
Music: A.R Rehman, Rohan Rohan, Sanjay Wandrekar, Atul Raninga
The cat is finally out of the bag that had been loitering around our noses for months. Will they show his affair with Madhuri? Will they talk about how he was called a terrorist? Sanju had tantalized fans and non-fans alike with numerous mentions of the actor’s colorful life in its impressive trailers and teasers. As we walked into the theater, we had our doubts. We are not hardcore Sanjay Dutt fans, even if we did enjoy some of his movies. Would there be enough content for us to watch? Would there be enough cinematic moments for us to revel in, without being very interested in the gory details of his life? These questions were quickly swatted away in a few minutes into the movie. Sanju is a directorial delight and an actor’s supernova. Lush with superb performances and a largely compelling storyline, Sanju is one movie where you can indeed believe the hype.
The biopic alters between recollections of different characters in the life of Sanjay Dutt (Ranbir Kapoor). The story doesn’t hold back at all in revealing the apparently macabre details of the film star’s life. Even as a stand-alone story (without the affiliation to the Dutt family), it holds up really well, due to this sheer honesty. It doesn’t as much care to detail the rise and fall of the factor as much as it cares about capturing its characters’ interactions and growth. You will feel your gut wrench looking at Sunil Dutt’s (Paresh Rawal) dedication. You will feel exhilarated when Sanju gets a triumph over his inner demons. You will find yourselves laughing at the tribulations of Kamlesh (Vicky Kaushal) and frustrated over at the tugs of fate orchestrated by Zubin Mistry (Jim Sarbh). There is one flaw though, but if you are used to Rajkumar Hirani it will bother you even less. Every character in the movie shows little deviation from their ascertained templates. Kamlesh is affable, Manyata (Dia Mirza) is quiet and dedicated, Sunil Dutt is patient and endearing. Nothing changes about these characters in the course of the many years the movie has tried to cover. Though that is not even remotely possible in real life, with the sweltering emotions and the acting super-fest, you can give reality a slight miss with Sanju.
Screenplay and Direction
Mr. Hirani is getting closer to being a master at the craft, with each scene panning out in effortless fluidity and connectivity with the next. He also generally writes the script (or is deeply involved in the process) and handles the directorial duties as well, which leads to the entire movie having a unified vision and a level-headedness that is generally rare in mainstream, commercial Bollywood cinema. The screenplay (by Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi) and the direction sets up the canvas upon which the actors paint away magically.
Performances and Dialogue
Ranbir Kapoor is as believable as Sanjay Dutt, as it can get (the movie’s make-up and production crew have also done a tremendous job in keeping locations and themes accurate). He walks, talks, grunts and slaps like… well, we haven’t met Sanjay Dutt, but he clones the cinematic identity of the actor, quite powerfully. Ranbir is an expert at playing the tear-fest scenes and the laugh riots with equal dexterity. Supporting him with grace and aplomb is Vicky Kaushal, who sheds the army avatar from Raazi and melts into the mold of a caricatured Gujarati businessman. His scenes with Ranbir are some of the best moments in the movie and the actors deserve their credit for this feat. Paresh Rawal is also believable as the caring, upright and patient father who is always willing to give his son a chance. Jim Sarbh will probably not be talked about much, but he is a genius in his own right as well. Manisha Koirala captures a whimsical Nargis beautifully and stitches up her scenes admirably. The dialogues will also charm your hearts and since it is a Rajkumar Hirani movie, do expect the dramatic scenes to be slightly corny in the perfectly acceptable way.
Not the strongest suit of Sanju, the music department has many heads to helm it. The only song of note is Kar Har Maidaan Fateh, composed by Vikram Montrose and sung by Sukhwinder Singh. The other songs of the movie like Ruby, Ruby and Mujhe Chaand Pe Le Chalo (both done by A R Rahman), don’t really stand out. The background score has tried to capture a blend of the yesteryear and the present with some harmonica and the occasional electric guitar licks coming in to spice things up.
Sanju is a revelation. Not just into the actors’ life, but into the world of cinematic talent that it has to present under the helm of Rajkumar Hirani. Even if you find flaws with the movie, the hold that Hirani has over the major departments of the movie, gives it a wholesome feel that makes up for its forgivable fallacies. With blockbuster-acting, superb direction and a decently honest storyline, Sanju will make your weekend. And trust us. Even if you cannot recite Munnabhai MBBS’s dialogues scene by scene or even if you have limited or little interest in celebrity lives, Sanju is still something you must not miss, for the cinematic brilliance and brazen honesty that it brings to the screen.