Tuesday, 10 July 2018

An over-rated Sanju!

When the trailer for this movie came out, everyone was going gaga over Ranbir and his uncanny resemblance to Sanjay Dutt, and the sad part about this movie is that the resemblance is probably the best part about this film. From his drug abuse to his jail term, Baba has been shown to be a good guy, who the media has slandered and defamed. While the film is successful in laying out the actual facts of Sanjay Dutt's case, it creates a false sense of acceptance about something as serious as the Arms Act. While brandishing Baba as a terrorist was truly an error beyond reprieve, the film tends to focus more on Sanjay as a product of unfortunate circumstances. Rajkumar Hirani has successfully created a movie that showcases Sanjay Dutt as a misunderstood man, who was castrated for an apparently benign reason. While most biopics end up being hagiographies that portray the subject with godly semblance, Sanju takes it to the next level. The story about the duplicitous drug peddler is no way an excuse for Sanjay's drug addiction. His apparent fear about his house being mobbed does not justify hoarding guns in his backyard. And most importantly, discrediting the media for one's bacchanalian attitude is a worn out cliche. The movie could have portrayed Sanjay as a bad guy, whose affinity to drugs and alcohol had ruined the lives of those around him. Instead, the movie tries to justify Sanjay's addiction and in a failed attempt, tries to pass it off as a phase in his life. The despicable way in which the movie showcases the number of times Sanjay has bedded a woman is unfit for contemporary cinema. While having multiple sexual encounters is perfectly normal, the sleazy and dismissive manner in which the portion has been shot is indeed disappointing. While Hirani has tried to make it appear like a gladiator's kill count, the moral balance is tipped towards chauvinism.

One of the greatest things about this movie though is a character called Kamli, who the makers claim is a combination of many of Sanjay's friends. The undying loyalty and love that Kamli carries for Sanjay is truly a reminder of what true friendship is and what a true friend's duties are. But even this seemingly infallible character is shown to be misjudging Sanjay and wrongly accusing him of compliance in the Bombay blasts. This in essence, encapsulates the film's whole problem; it portrays Sanjay as perfect guy who was screwed up by unfair circumstances. But the filmmaker fails to inform the audience, that its the ability to remain steadfast in the face of distasteful experiences, that determines our true mettle. One truly endearing aspect of the film was the character of Sunil Dutt, portrayed with utmost conviction by Paresh Rawal. It would be right to say that Raval has captured the stable-minded, and charismatic persona of the much loved Dutt Sahab. The bond between Sanjay and his dad is truly moving, and provides a good handbook on parenting by proving that love can truly help rid us of our afflictions. The pictures of a desperate Sanjay hitchhiking and begging his way to New York is a vivid representation of what drugs can do to someone. His journey from being a junkie to essentially a non-junkie doesn't invoke a sense of optimism or appreciation which is usually associated with recovering addicts. Maybe it has something to do with him being born with a silver spoon and yet throwing away what could have been a good career.

Sanju is probably the epitome of film making and good acting. Everybody who enters the frame leaves an everlasting impression and does a magnificent job in convincing us about the helplessness of their character. As a biopic, Sanju fails to create an impression. While its true that people continued to hold him accountable for compliance in the Bombay blasts, the rest of the film fails to portray Sanjay as the true bad boy that he was. Hirani blames everything from his tentative age to his mother's demise for Sanjay's woes and never once tries to blame Sanjay for his bad choices. The part were he sleeps with his best friend's girl friend is also trivialised to an unbelievable extent. While the former would be a deal breaker in most friendships, Sanjay and Kamli brush it aside as something anodyne. Sanju was a great opportunity for Hirani to essentially create a handbook on how to steer away from trouble. Instead we get 3 hours of brilliant actors, backed by excellent film making trying to convince us that Sanju Baba was a misunderstood man, who was screwed up by life! The irony being that life screws everyone without distinction!