Sanju: An Entertaining & Subjective Biopic
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Directed by Rajkumar Hirani, Sanju is a biopic that follows the various stages of Sanjay Dutt’s life. The film has Hirani’s signature brand of humor and drama. It even has a message attached to most of the crucial scenes. But it is also far from having an objective outlook on the actor. Ultimately, Whether or not you will like this entertaining biopic has a lot to do with what you expect from it.
Desperate to tell his story and discard the terrorist label he has been slapped with, the central character, Sanjay Dutt (Ranbir Kapoor) is on the lookout for a talented biographer. When he finds the talented Winnie Diaz (Anushka Sharma), he tries to persuade her to write his biography. The rest of the film is made up of the various stages of Dutt’s life, consisting predominantly of the portions between his drug abuse and his alleged involvement in the 1993 Mumbai blasts.
As always, director Rajkumar Hirani backs Sanju up with his solid flair for filmmaking. The film soars with its arresting blend of emotional, humorous and visual blend of storytelling intelligence. The nuances with which Hirani puts forth this fictionalized account of Sanjay Dutt’s life is thoroughly entertaining. When Hirani’s ability to make any story commercially viable meets Ranbir Kapoor’s Avant Garde approach, the magic of cinema comes alive.
Some of the most impactful portions in Sanju include Dutt’s struggle with drug abuse and his efforts to embrace the realities of rehabilitation. But a scene that is sure to drive you to tears is the one where Sunil Dutt plays Sanju a voice recording of his mother. Another equally memorable scene unravels when a drunken Kamlesh pleads with Sanju’s father to make him understand the gigantic shadow he has cast on his son by being a picture of perfection in the showbiz.
However, Sanju has its share of flaws too. As entertaining as it may be, it is far from being earnest. Sure, Hirani has tried to showcase the good, bad and ugly sides of Sanjay Dutt, but he fails to be objective. Behind every bad deed Dutt has been involved in, the writer and director tries to tell us that he was a victim of circumstances. So, more than owning up to his flaws, the film tries to portray Sanjay Dutt as a victim in most of the scenarios. This takes away from the credibility of the film.
Nonetheless, Sanju buries this slight propaganda under layers and layers of commercial entertainment. At the end of the day, you will not regret watching this film. You will have your own issues with it, but you will take back a few enjoyable moments as well.
To say that Ranbir Kapoor has given the performance of his career would be an understatement. He gets so deeply into the skin of his characters that you will no longer be able to differentiate between them. From a young and goofy Sanjay Dutt learning the ropes of the showbiz to the ageing man who swallowed hardship for breakfast, Ranbir’s chameleon-like performance is the reason why the flaws in the film appear less pressing. Be it recreating Sanju’s voice modulations or capturing his emotional mind-set, Ranbir’s metamorphosis is most definitely one for the books.
Playing Sunil Dutt, Paresh Rawal practices restraint and subtlety. But somehow no matter how much effort he puts into his performance, the personalities of Rawal and Dutt never merge. Their differing political makes it difficult for you to believe that Rawal is the fictional embodiment of Sunil Dutt.
Vicky Kaushal excels at playing Sanju’s close friend Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi. He captures his character’s innocence and unquestionable loyalty in an utterly convincing manner.
Playing Winnie Diaz, a biographer, Anushka Sharma does have a few memorable moments in the film but her accent appears artificial;. Sonam Kapoor has very little to do in the film and Manisha Koirala is charming for the brief time that she appears. As Manyata Dutt, Dia Mirza is mostly convincing.
The biggest round of applause has to go to the makeup and styling team of Sanju. Their enormous contribution has made the actors look exactly like their real-life counterparts. The first impression this realistic makeover creates is what convinces you to invest in their story in the first place.
As always, cinematographer Ravi Varman’s visual-storytelling techniques are a sight for the sore eyes. Be it the dark portions or the reassuring ones, the film expresses plenty of emotions visually. Thanks to Varman, the beauty of visual language is thoroughly explored in Sanju.
The film’s music might not be haunting enough to be remembered but it does prove to be sufficient enough to uplift the story in many crucial scenes.
On the whole, Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju is entertaining and moving but it is far from being completely honest. If you are on the lookout for a gripping tale, the film will impress you. But if you’re looking for an objective perspective, you will be disappointed.