Rajkumar Hirani’s 200 crore baby ‘Sanju’ lacks spine

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I don’t know if Sanju’s opening scene is made to state the obvious or is it about yet another scene in a film that slips off track as we proceed. Sanju opens with a writer reading the opening of a book based on the actor.

The writer Piyush Mishra in this case is reading the first lines as he compares Sanjay Dutt to Bapu ( father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi ). What strikes me at the end is what follows as Dia Mirza playing Manyata Dutt tells Sanjay Dutt ( Ranbir Kapoor ).

She says why don’t we get a writer who will tell the Sanju story from his perspective. Perhaps a master storyteller Rajkumar Hirani has also done just that. In a film that revolves around Sanjay Dutt, Manyata Dutt, Sunil Dutt, Nargis Dutt, Winnie Diaz and Paresh Ghelani aka Kamlesh the plot tries to justify each wrong deed of Sanjay Dutt.

The film makes sex, prostitution, drugs and terrorism the new normal and goes overboard at some places on double meaning jokes and sexual innuendos. A monologue by Sanju at his girlfriend Ruby’s house laced with sexist jokes reminds you of the 3 idiots Balatkaar speech.

Hirani uses the flashback model to go back in time to decipher the life of Dutt. The plot unravels by way of conversations between Sanju biographer Winnie Diaz, Dutt and his friend Kamli.

In a story that is more of an attempt to whitewash Sanjay Dutt’s journey so far, Hirani takes you through each moment – be it drugs, sexual encounters or his run in with the law with the disclaimer that it was because of some unforeseen circumstances. When he is down with depression and anxiety he is shown consuming drugs just to get a new high.

The idea that is passed on to the viewer is that it is because of a drug peddler that Sanju gets caught in a mess. The film does cover the times Sanju spends in rehab and how the family and friends standby him.

Sanjay Dutt’s relation with Paresh Ghelani aka Kamlesh comes out well as someone who would be the reformer for the already depressed and dejected Sanju. They have a common affinity for girls, they bond over some good times and will do anything for the other. It is no surprise that Sunil Dutt trusts him more than Sanju himself. The film tries to paint the media as the perpetrator and Sanjay Dutt as the victim when it comes to reportage of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.

The hallucinations, inner turmoil and the insecurities aside the movie tries in great detail to question the alleged media hype that is created around the actor. Legal cushions in media parlance are clearly mocked without an iota of remorse saying sources are a mindless tool that media uses to tarnish a big guy like Sanju.

While senior cops in Mumbai past and present say that had Sanjay Dutt blown the lid on the sinister 93 plot before, life in Maximum City would have been different, Hirani’s film makes you believe that Sanjay Dutt was trying to protect Sunil Dutt. Are we to believe that he did not know that he was dealing with a terror monger.

Would it be prudent to tell the nation that post the Babri demolitions Sunil Dutt was under threat and hence his sonny boy coolly gave into requests to store a number of AK 56 rifles and rounds at home.

The film has just the right kind of elements that a Hirani helmed film has. It’s colourful in parts, has the jail years factored in. And for those who are Ranbir Kapoor fans its paisa wasool as he soaks in the mannerisms of Sanjay Dutt well. A master at aping Sanjay Dutt, he copies the voice, walking and talking closely. The story also scores on the research part. The makers have done their homework well. Musically it is a treat especially Kar Har Maidan Fateh uplifts you to a different level.

Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt is the best thing you will see in the film. Perhaps a great tribute to a great man. Vicky Kaushal as Kamli is fun and his camaraderie with Sanju is well captured. Jim Sarbh as the drug peddler is as usual a whiff of fresh air. Anushka Sharma as a scribe is true to form.

Manisha Koirala as Nargis is a short appearance but the senior actress does justice to the Bollywood legend.

Ahead of writing this I came across a scene from Ranbir Kapoor’s Rockstar where Piyush Mishra talks about Jordan the rockstar saying – Negative Chalta Hai Bas media Mein. My problem is no one can say in the media X is holier than all or we as the media are always right. But painting all with the same brush is wrong. Its also equally important to underscore that even saying Sanju Sahi Baki sab Galat is a terrible thing to do.

In case you have checked media reports they are also reporting that Sanju is part of the Rs 200 crore club and I’m sure many in the business would be popping a champagne bottle. Whatsay?

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