Who’s the real Sanjay Dutt.

Is he a son, a hero, an addict or a traitor?

‘Sanju’ aims to answer these questions and does exactly that, in a well-measured way, not even sidestepping once. Thus, a hagiographic image of a person whose life has been the centre of discussion for the last two decades in the public eye is presented for public scrutiny. ‘Sanju’ dangerously veers towards becoming another ‘Azhar’ (2016) but narrowly escapes from it by the virtue of some superlative performances by Vicky Kaushal and an unbelievable Ranbir Kapoor. The movie needs to be watched only for these two guys, their amazing chemistry, and some great acting.

The movie covers Sanjay Dutt’s life in those parts that have been in public records. Barring a few moments, there is nothing that’s not known. And that’s the bane of being a celebrity. Being directed by Rajkumar Hirani, who owes his career to Dutt and vice versa, the movie doesn’t even paint Dutt in a little shade of grey. Hirani doesn’t portray anything remotely negative about Dutt, leaving out the bits about his first wife, his daughter and the numerous affairs that Dutt had with the heroines of the time. Hirani even has a character modelled on himself, played by Anushka Sharma, a writer who Dutt chases after to write his biopic. It’s weird that the movie chooses media as the culprit behind Dutt’s misery and not his poor choices in life, which led to his debacle. In fact, the movie just abolishes him of all mistakes and ends on a song where Sanjay Dutt and Ranbir Singh mock the media for their loud-mouthing.

But all is not bad. The 2 hours and 42 minutes long movie survive on the able shoulders of Ranbir Kapoor and Vicky Kaushal. It goes without saying that Ranbir is one of the finest actors of this generation. The way he picks up the mannerisms and the gait, it becomes difficult to imagine that it’s not Sanjay Dutt. It is important because there’s a fine line between impersonation and caricature and Ranbir walks on it, with closed eyes and comes out unscathed. Vicky Kaushal plays Sanjay’s best friend and comes up with a bravura performance that overshadows even stalwarts like Paresh Rawal, who does well as Sanjay’s father, the late Sunil Dutt. Sonam Kapoor, in a guest appearance, is surprisingly good. Manisha Koirala as Sanjay’s mother late Nargis Dutt is brilliant. It feels great to see her on-screen, after a long time. The talented Jim Sarbh is wasted in a bad role.

By painting Dutt as the poor soul with plain misfortune, Raju Hirani affirms the fact that Hindi films are still light years away from making an honest biopic. ‘Sanju’ could’ve been a great film, talking about the fallacies of a star and his fall from grace, who, per his wife, was the ‘king of bad choices’. Yet ‘Sanju’ chooses to be a lesser film, wasting the golden opportunity. Watch it only for the electric performances of Ranbir Kapoor and Vicky Kaushal.


The Cinemawala Rating: 2.5/5

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