Incisively, Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju is a relationship drama fissured with anecdotal sequences revolving around Sanjay Dutt’s encounter with the outside world – drugs, girlfriend and bomb blasts. While it was speculated to be whitewashing of Dutt’s flawed life, but writers Abhijat Joshi and Hirani impart us both sides of the coin, eventually whitewashing. After a longtime, Bollywood has a biopic based-on a real-living actor – with Rajkumar Hirani’s named attached, I thought it would be an interesting character study. But, Sanju barely touches the character psyche, rather we get a nuanced meta-performance by Ranbir Kapoor playing an actor and a humanizing story.
Sanju is vibrantly shot by Cinematographer Ravi Varman (Kaatru Veliyidai, Tamasha, Jagga Jasoos) whose colour palette syncs completely with the flawed story of Sanjay Dutt. First half is vibrant, with contrasting and warm hues of yellow, red and brown hinting as energetic and self-indulging lifespan. While second half, plays with rich colours without a cinematic tone which hints at the hard hits of the life and surroundings. Notably, during heart-warming sequences featuring Vicky Kaushal as Dutt’s best friend, Manisha Koirala as Nargis and Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt – there’s a ray of light beaming through steps towards brighter side but ironically it slips into darker side. Colours speak meticulously in Sanju without being harsh on the viewers since they’re served with an eccentric film.
While Rajkumar Hirani smartly makes a move rightly taking on the fourth pillar of the democracy and Ranbir breaking the fourth wall – how journalists corroborated and almost demolished Dutt’s life with question mark. Although, it appears smaller in size, the impact created makes stormy waves in a person’s life whose life now is hard to judge – its blurred by the fourth pillar for their spicy material (suggestive). And then we have Sanjay Dutt’s spiced life, perks of being an actor surrounded by irresponsible media.
Sanju plays out in an interview kind-of research format with Winnie (Anushka Sharma), a biographer. Unlike Hirani’s earlier works, it takes time to soak into Sanjay Dutt’s story – it starts with his drug phase and the film emotionally picks up when he enters the rehab centre. There’s some powerful scene writing in the first half especially, scenes featuring Vicky Kaushal. Writers Joshi & Hirani subtly try to weave in an emotional message – hope and connect. Unfortunately, Sanju plays in a Bollywoodish manner where each scene goes from drama to melodrama. It will make you laugh and cry, but again, unlike Hirani’s earlier works – it fails to live up on the humorous part which comes across as strained sequences. But, the second half plays out wild on the emotional cord and will strike tears across the heart, that’s the real soul of the film.
It takes time to adjust with Ranbir Kapoor, what looks like a caricature act flows into a nuanced performance, while his uncanny resemblance immediately makes us believe but it’s his terrific performance which furls. Vicky Kaushal wins it, his versatile performance is bound for tear shedding, his sheer conviction in dressing as Kamli is a major takeaway. And a glance of Manisha Koirala as Nargis is enough to warm the soul.
Sanju is marred by its manipulative Background Score but it scores high on its relationship drama front with an overflow of emotions. It’s about writing trick, how to propel a flawed story into a courageous drama – unapologetically accepting it as Rajkumar Hirani’s weakest film.
Release: 29 June, 2018
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