Sanju Is An Entertaining Saga That Blends Emotions, Humor & Drama
Banner: Rajkumar Hirani Films & Vinod Chopra Films
Producer: Rajkumar Hirani & Vinod Chopra
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Starcast: Ranbir Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Manisha Koirala, Paresh Rawal, Dia Mirza, Jim Sarbh, Anushka Sharma, Vicky Kaushal
Music: A. R. Rahman, Rohan Rohan, Vikram Montrose, Sanjay Wandrekar & Atul Raninga
Sure enough the blockbuster director Rajkumar Hirani needs no special introduction. And his latest offering Sanju promises to be different and shows the highs as well as lows & dark periods of actor Sanjay Dutt. That it’s directed by Rajkumar Hirani, who has a cent per cent track record and features popular actor Ranbir Kapoor, has added to the excitement considerably.
Biopics are quite in vogue in Bollywood and in recent times, many of them have even tasted massive commercial success. But often, these biopics are criticized as they become quite hagiographic and tend to glorify the person in question. In such a scenario, Sanju lives up to its hype and turns out to be a yet another feather in Rajkumar Hirani’s directorial cap. Actually speaking Sanju is the biopic of the most controversial actor Sanjay Dutt, in the history of Bollywood, and some of the dramatic & the most significant episodes of his life.
Sanjay Dutt (Ranbir Kapoor) is the son of the famous actor Sunil Dutt (Paresh Rawal) & yesteryear actress Nargis (Manisha Koirala). He is about to get launched in a film by his father titled Rocky. Upset with his father, he tries drugs for the 1st time ever courtesy his friend Zubin Mistry (Jim Sarbh). At this point, he finds out that Nargis is suffering from cancer and has few days to live. She is taken to New York for treatment. Sanju is unable to control his drug habit even when his mother is struggling for life. While in New York, he befriends Kamlesh Kapasi (Vicky Kaushal) and they both form a wonderful bond. Sadly due to his drug addiction, his relationship with his girlfriend Ruby (Sonam Kapoor) gets affected and ends on a dismal note. Nargis dies just 3 days before the release of Rocky. An overwhelmed Sanju agrees to go for rehab in USA. Once he overcomes this addiction, he gets into a bigger problem. He gets arrested for illegal possession of arms. He’s also accused of aiding the terrorists in carrying out the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai in the year 1993. How Sanjay Dutt fights this dreadful charge forms the rest of the crux of the film.
Director Rajkumar Hirani & Abhijat Joshi’s story is interesting but one can sense that they have tried to play safe. But they have balanced it out by not glorifying Sanjay Dutt and showing his bad & dark side too. Also, it’s impressive how Rajkumar & Abhijat haven’t focused on his film career and have focused on his personal life & turmoil’s. Rajkumar Hirani & Abhijat Joshi’s screenplay is terrific and despite the minuses, can be used as a guide on how to write films. With so much happening in the film, the writers ensure that the narrative doesn’t go all over the place. Everything is neatly put together. For instance, when the sequence where the Dutt’s are returning back to India, Nargis’ remarks about Ruby. This is done organically & neatly links to the next sequence which is related to Ruby. Rajkumar Hirani & Abhijat Joshi’s dialogues as always are entertaining, sharp & massy. Few dialogues related to sex will bring the house down in single screens and in the hinterland. A section of the audience however would also be put off by such jokes & dark humor at places.
Rajkumar Hirani’s direction as expected is highly effective. This is no easy film to make but he executes & presents the plot in a simple & crisp manner. His magic comes to the fore in several sequences and is bound to leave the viewers smiling & even teary eyed. However, the climax could have been better & more powerful.
The biggest strength of Sanju is that the film never drops. The screenplay is riveting and keeps you hooked, even if you might not agree with the goings on. And that’s a feat for a film which is 160 minutes long. The back & forth narrative works very well and keeps viewers intrigued. The 1st ever half is excellent and boasts of some fine emotional, funny & dramatic sequences. The intermission point comes as a bolt from the blue. The madness continues in the 2nd half but the plot gets a bit shaky here. The film goes on a high in the 1st half but the same doesn’t happen in the 2nd half. The film should have ended with a punch or on a rocking note, as it has happened in the previous Rajkumar Hirani films. However, the film leaves a strong emotional impact overall, which works very well.
Songs are not that great but work well in the film. “Kar Har Maidaan Fateh” is the best of the lot. “Main Badhiya Tu Bhi Badhiya” is very well picturised & imagined. “Ruby Ruby” (by A R Rahman) is relegated to the background. Sanjay Wandrekar & Atul Raninga’s background score is much better & exhilarating. S Ravivarman’s cinematography is splendid and has captured some of the locales beautifully. In fact, he impresses right from the 1st shot itself, a bird’s eye view of Bandra. Shashank Tere’s production design is appealing & rich. Eka Lakhani’s costumes are authentic. Vikram Gaikwad’s make-up design, Clover Wootton’s prosthetics & VFX by NY VFXWaala deserves the highest praise for making Ranbir look like Sanjay Dutt through the ages. Rajkumar Hirani’s editing is crisp.
Performance wise it is Ranbir Kapoor who owns the film, in fact he is the life & soul of the film and delivers a terrific & power packed performance. Nowhere does his performance seem like a caricature and he gives his best shot in ensuring that he looks & behaves like Sanjay Dutt. Watch out for him in the emotional sequences, particularly when his mother passes away and he confesses to his father that he needs to get better. Also he’ll leave viewers moist eyed in the scene where he fails to read his speech to his father and later the inevitable happens. Sanju surely ranks as one of the most or arguably the most accomplished performance by this young actor and is bound to win him accolades, admiration & awards galore! Paresh Rawal is also quite impressive and plays the important part of Sunil Dutt with perfection. Sanju, in fact, is a father-son story and he compliments Ranbir very well in taking some scenes to greater heights. Vicky Kaushal is the surprise package of the film. Right from his entry, he makes a mark and brings the house down at several places. Also, he’s rocking in the emotional sequences like when he meets Ruby or when he tells Sunil Dutt that they need to help Sanjay Dutt. Even in the 2nd half, watch out for him when he meets Sanjay Dutt in the hospital and in the pre-climax when he listens to the radio. Manisha Koirala has a supporting part but is an important pillar in the film and charms with her performance. Anushka Sharma (as Winnie Dias) delivers a splendid performance. Again, her screen time is limited. Jim Sarbh makes an impact with his role. Sonam Kapoor (as Ruby) is decent in the cameo. Boman Irani (as Homi) contributes to the fun quotient. Sayaji Shinde (as Bandu Dada) looks every inch a gangster. Dia Mirza (as Maanayata Dutt) gets overpowered. Aditi Seiya (as Priya Dutt) looks quite like Priya but doesn’t have much to do in the film. Karishma Tanna (as Pinky) is quite sizzling and makes a mark, despite being there for just a scene. Mahesh Manjrekar (himself), Piyush Mishra (D Tripathi), Ashwin Mushran (security officer), Bharat Dabholkar (lawyer) & Aanjjan Srivastav (minister) are good.
Tail Piece: On the whole, Sanju is an entertaining saga that blends emotions, humor & drama in adequate doses. It is powerful, engaging, emotional as well as compelling. The combination of Rajkumar Hirani & Ranbir Kapoor works like a dream. At the box-office turnstiles, despite not being a “typical Rajkumar Hirani family entertainer’, Sanju will score tremendously and emerge as a Monstrous Hit! Don’t miss it!