Sanju narrates the turbulent life and career of Bollywood acting giant Sanjay Dutt (Ranbir Kapoor) and his relationship with his late father Sunil Dutt (Paresh Rawal) and friend Kamalesh (Vicky Kaushal) while also exploring his disastrous connections with drugs and the mafia.
Positive Points: –
- The incredible performances of Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal and Paresh Rawal become the soul of the film. The competition of bettering the other between Kapoor and Kaushal is a treat to watch.
- Rajkumar Hirani’s direction overcomes the shortcomings of the film’s writing.
- Sanju delivers strongly on its emotional aspects and that’s exactly what the audience expected it to do.
- Notwithstanding its length, the film is riveting.
- Though a lot of people and mainstream critics have derided its anti-media narrative, I got to disagree with them. The lie peddling attitude of Indian media and their preference for money over the truth due to which they can go to any extent is not a secret anymore. Given this understanding, one can easily believe the film’s aggressive take on this attitude of the Indian media and there’s nothing wrong in it.
Negative Points: –
- Once you get used to the realistic biographies made outside India, it’s difficult to digest the melodrama that’s poured in Indian biographical films like this one.
- None of the supporting characters other than the aforementioned makes any mark with his/her performance and the blame for the same goes to the movie’s poor character development.
- There are several flaws in the film’s making be it in its writing or even its general filmmaking decision. The best example of the same can be Boman Irani’s casting as Ruby’s father and that’s not because he performs badly. In fact, Irani delivers pretty well but then in a flashback to Munnabhai MBBS, we see him again as Dr Asthana, which is indeed a blunder.
Direction, Screenplay & Other Technicalities: –
Rajkumar Hirani alleviates the film on many levels as the film’s pilot. His focus on the Dutt’s relationship with his father and his best friend is deep and invigorating. Their relationship exhibits a lot of honesty and the exuding charm of the same is only delectable. Hirani blatantly portrays the despicable aspects of its protagonist and doesn’t attempt to buy your sympathy for him. I believe that’s a pretty good thing which is still not very prevalent in biographical films, both in India and outside it. The polarizing element in the movie is its excoriation of the Indian media and I am on the positive side on that matter.
The nettling factor here is its lose character growth, save its three prime characters, and its melodramatic premise. Though it’s a known fact that the Indian audience likes its films corny, doing the same in Sanju was probably not required. The unnecessary addition of comic elements viz. the very opening sequence, was again vapid and vexing. A lot of things happen without proper continuity or explanation. The bathroom leakage scene follows no specific conclusion as to how the Mumbai Police reacted to it or did they do it intentionally or anything as such. Jim Sarbh’s character Zubin Mistry appears in the film as a potential antagonist in the first half but is completely forgotten in the later part. Sanju’s relationships with his sister, wife and kids are not explored at all. Even his fallout with his best friend wasn’t at all convincing. Lastly, the film portrays Dutt’s comeback as an actor with Munnabhai MBBS (also directed by Hirani) but that’s no way true because Dutt’s career had already revived a few years prior to it with his amazing rendition as a gangster in Vaastav.
On the technical side, I have mixed reviews for the editing, again due to the continuity issue. The art direction and cinematography complement each other and the film pretty well. Music is one of the best aspects of Sanju and the song Kar Har Maidaan Fateh is its best contribution melodically.
I don’t know what else Ranbir Kapoor needs to render in order to prove his mettle as a thespian. Getting into the shoes of someone like Sanjay Dutt is not a child’s play and I still can’t believe that Kapoor didn’t seem unconvincing even for a jiffy in his character. Many a time, I felt as if I’m seeing Dutt enacting himself on the screen, such was the accuracy of Kapoor’s portrayal. He is easily the strongest contender for the Best Actor awards in the next award season.
In spite of performing incredibly, Kapoor could have never expected anyone to give him a cutthroat competition on the screen but Vicky Kaushal did the unthinkable. He makes his own mark with ease and is equally good as Kapoor in most of the film’s montages. The chemistry shared by both the actors is also extremely charming which makes the movie even more delightful to watch.
Paresh Rawal is such an actor who cannot be subdued by his co-stars no matter how thinly his character is written or how powerful the latter are crafted to be. Rawal, in his grave stature as the late legendary actor Sunil Dutt, manages to cut through the auras of the younger leads and shine brightly even in a reserved performance.
None of the other actors does anything much special or worth remembering. Boman Irani, Jim Sarbh and Manisha Koirala, however, do succeed in making their marks in their cameos.
Final Verdict: –
Sanju is not the best biographical film, hell it’s not even Hirani’s best work, but it’s superb enough to deem it lovable. The level of execution in terms of acting and direction in this flick is simply commendable. Surely, it has its own darker and rougher facets but they can’t really overpower the overall emotional strength of the film which is all that a generic audience wanted from it.