SANJU – An ode to Sunil Dutt

It was 2013. The release of Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani had marked the 3rd straight successful year for Ranbir Kapoor – commercially and critically.

The previous 2 years had seen him sweeping major awards, including consecutive Filmfares for Rockstar and Barfi. Both the movies had earned great returns, with the latter breaching the coveted 100Cr mark.

YJHD was his 10th movie and it went onto become one of the highest grossing Indian movies. Ranbir catapulted himself into the league of bankable stars. He was touted as the next big superstar of India. He was living his dream.

……..and then came the slump.

2013, the year that had witnessed his most successful film also marked the beginning of his losing streak –Besharam, Roy, Bombay Velvet (lost around 60 -80crores) and Tamasha. Films continued to fail, year after year. Producers lost whopping amount.

 Ae Dil Hai Mushkil came as a relief, but then came Jagga Jasoos, for which Ranbir had turned a producer. Jagga lost around 40 -60Crores at BO.

When you see Ranbir Kapoor in his recent interviews, you can’t help but notice the melancholy in his eyes. Is it melancholy or is it the metamorphosis that he has underwent while reprising the role of Sanjay Dutt in Sanju?

Dutt’s life is filled with unbelievable tales of ups and downs, where he has hit more troughs than peaks. Did Ranbir take a leaf from Dutt’s life?

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What is SANJU – the movie all about?

It’s the tale of Sanjay Dutt – son of famed Sunil Dutt and Nargis. It’s a tale of his tryst with drug addiction and his fight against it. It’s the tale of a man who was charged under TADA act for his role in Mumbai Serial Blasts case and his acquittal. It’s about a man who was jailed under the ‘Arms Act’ and served 1400 odd days in prison.

Above all, it’s a tale of a father, who stood by his son in all his hardships. When the movie ends, whom do you fall in love with? Ranbir as Sanju or Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt?

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RANBIR as SANJU

In a career spanning over 11 years, Ranbir has largely played similar roles – a man in his soul searching journey. That makes Sanju a tailor made role for Ranbir. It’s his comfort zone.

However, the role has brought in its own baggage of hurdles and challenges.

When you are acting in a biopic, irrespective of the magnitude of your role – lead or just a supporting cast, you are bound to invite comparisons. The challenge intensifies, when you are reprising the role of someone living.

Sanjay Dutt is a star who has acted in over 150 movies. We have seen him through years – young, old, in his teen cheeks and in his silver beard. Hence, our subconscious continues to draw comparisons. There was always a danger of loss of ‘empathy’ for the protagonist, because the mind is too busy playing the game of comparison.

However, Ranbir hasn’t blindly tried to ape Sanjay, rather he has transformed himself into Sanju. He has picked few mannerisms that look more implicit than explicit imitation.

As a result, barring few segments, we live the experience of Sanju – the character and not Sanjay Dutt on whom the character is based on. That’s where Ranbir’s success lies. He becomes increasingly convincing. He makes us cry, he makes us laugh. He makes us cringe and gets us upset. He earns the empathy of the audience that lasts until the credit list rolls.

Sanju is not only the redemption of Sanjay Dutt, but also of Ranbir. He has regained his lost sublime form. The film is not only going to set the cash registers ringing, but will also fill his drawing room with few more awards. He is back into business.

(With the much hyped ‘Brahmastra’ on cards, he could be the next superstar that everyone wanted him to be)

Paresh Rawal has played the second fiddle, rather beautifully, making us fall in love with the endearing and much revered Sunil Dutt. (After watching the movie, I ended up spending few hours reading about him)

Vicky Kaushal’s would be another noteworthy performance.

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RAJKUMAR HIRANI – The man with the Midas touch

5 movies in 14 years looks a strained effort. It’s the fact that all of them have been blockbusters, which transforms the stats into an enviable track record. Sanju is looking in all good shape to extend his blockbuster streak.

He along with his writing companion – Abhijat Joshi, has retained their entertainment formula. Every scene should either make audience laugh their lungs out or make them empty their tears (joyous tears most of the times).

Hirani movies don’t exist in real plane. It exists in a dramatic space – filled with larger than life characters that look more real than fiction.

Despite being a biopic, he does no different in Sanju. The real characters look larger than life, yet so real. There are places where you feel things going little over board and growing dramatic, but then that’s the space in which the movie is set. You might call it flaws, but they are the flaws that you could live with.

He appears to be certain about the kind of movie that he wanted this one to be – a Bollywood film. He didn’t want to make an “Aviator” for sure. He has used all the right ingredients and to its perfection.

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BOTTOM LINE(s)

Apart from his drug addiction and his jail episodes, Hirani hasn’t delved deep into other aspects of his life. He has not touched upon all his love episodes, his childhood, his film career, failed marriages etc.

Well, there’s too much drama in Sanju Baba’s life to accommodate in 160 minutes, isn’t it?

Few episodes look exaggerated. Few look fabricated or should I call them ‘exercise of creative liberty’? But who cares, as long as we have 160 minutes of pure entertainment on plate.

At the end of the movie, we can’t help but sympathize with him.

Sanju is perfect monsoon gift from Hirani. Watch it for the remarkable performance of Ranbir and the unbelievable life that Sanjay has lived.

Watch it for the beautiful tale between the father and the son.

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BOTTOM LINE

Sanju is Hirani’s ode to Sunil Dutt. It’s redemption of Sanjay Dutt and that of Ranbir.

-CHAN

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