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Opinion: Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju is a mastodonic entertainer, Ranbir Kapoor shines like never before, Vicky Kaushal is stunning too.
Let’s make it clear first that Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju Starring Ranbir Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, and Vicky Kaushal is not a true biopic, it is more of a cluster of many anecdotes from the life of actor Sanjay Dutt which Hirani and his co-writer Abhijat Joshi liked the most so if you are going with expectations of seeing a genuine biopic then you’ll be disappointed. Though even before the release Rajkumar Hirani told about it in his numerous interviews that the movie is primarily about friendship and the father-son relationship. Which I feel is a masterstroke by Hirani because an authentic biopic on the life of Dutt could have been very dark like Anurag Kashyap films and which is not Hirani’s mantra for filmmaking. His Sanju is mastodonicaly entertaining, vibrant, colorful and funny, typical Hirani. He is probably the best director we have today in mainstream Indian cinema, he respects the audiences who pay their hard earned money to buy the tickets for his movies. The best thing about Sanju is that it almost never bores in its 2 hours and 38 minutes runtime. By far it is one of the most entertaining films made on any well-known personality in India, Rajkumar Hirani as a director passes with flying colors here despite this one is his least accomplished product according to me, he dealt this subject cleverly along with his writer Joshi and made it an out and out commercial extravaganza. Ravi Varman’s cinematography makes the frames look like the pages of a drawing book of an extremely talented young artist. The songs by A.R. Rahman, Rohan Rohan and Vikram Montrose make them feel almost like living proportions in the film, specially Mujhe Chand Pe Chalo and Kar Har Maidan Fateh.
The film has its flaws, something feels like missing as it is far from perfect but somehow we still like it. The first half starts with abrupt humor which once you grasp the film will be swallowed like butter for you. You might feel it is a propaganda film to whitewash the sins of Baba but at the same time, it also tells us that he is as ordinary as anyone of us who did major mistakes, suffered from heavy emotional traumas and then took the ownership of his deeds. The second half is packed with Hirani style emotional drama and I loved it, What I didn’t like was the performance of Sonam Kapoor, one of Sanju’s many girlfriends and in fact her entire plot, they could have edited it to make room for the plot of Richa Sharma, first wife of Sanjay Dutt and Trishala, his first daughter, the makers completely omitted it which I felt was not healthy. Jim Sarbh as Sanju’s friend and drug supplier is just okay and even hams in some scenes. Manisha Koirala, Dia Mirza, and Anushka Sharma in their small parts are very good. Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt, one of the three main protagonists of the film is good but inconsistent. In some scenes he is outstanding but in some, he is just fine. He also doesn’t look like Sunil Dutt either yet I fell for the character because of the goodness the real Mr. senior Dutt possessed and that gave the writing a lot of strength. Vicky Kaushal as Sanju’s Gujarati bestie Kamlesh is a treat to watch, he is phenomenal and takes the narrative to another level with his acting. You’ll love him, this film will take him to new heights in the future, for me he is the surprise pleasure of the film. He gets a meaty part and delivered big time. Now let’s talk about Ranbir Kapoor, he shines like never before in a mainstream commercial setup. He is an actor par excellence we all know but getting massy without compromising the art is something I only see in Aamir Khan and Ranbir has achieved that here. You want to see him laugh, cry, dance and fool around on screen all the time, it is his victory as an actor. He draws a fine line and never overplays or becomes the caricature of Sanjay Dutt. In short Ranbir and Vicky, are the lifeline of Sanju. Go watch it once for sure, if possible then go for the second time too because you’ll like it more in the second viewing I think. It’ll be a big hit for sure but it is not as good as the earlier four films of Hirani, I’ll go with 3.5 stars out of five.