The official poster of Sanju Image: Twitter
Does Sanjay Dutt deserve a biopic? There, I asked the most important question that many are simply skirting around on the face of it but debating over at the coffee table.
The trailer of Sanju — Rajkumar Hirani and Ranbir Kapoor's years of hard work — like the teaser, narrates very dirty tales very matter-of-factly. Sanjay Dutt IS a drug addict, he IS a womaniser, he IS rowdy, he HAS pretty deep connections with the underworld, and frankly, he IS an a*s. And guess what? That AK 57 was indeed found at his house. Does that make him a terrorist, the villain? No, however...
Hirani's portrayal of Dutt is firmly hinged on that 'no', as he hopes that's what the audience will scream out when they witness the larger-than-life man on screen. And Ranbir with his masterful performance truly hits the ball out of the park. But eventually, the 'however' kicks in.
The trailer is all Ranbir, and the only two people who come a close second and third in the race are Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt, and Vicky Kaushal as Sanju's best friend. You know why Hirani has done that, but if you managed to harbour any doubts, wait till Sonam Kapoor delivers her "mangalsutra" dialogue (and ruins a critical scene). A doped out Sanju has lost Sonam's mangalsutra, and when she frantically demands it, he uproots a toilet seat and places it around her neck — a scene that instantly establishes that relationships are not something that Sanju gives two effs about. Precious.
When Anushka Sharma asks how many women he's slept with apart from his wife, Sanju quotes 350 because he's lost count. His current wife, Maanayata, essayed by Dia Mirza, is right next to him at the moment but he laughs away. Whether the nonchalance is a result of the ruthless kind of honesty not everyone is capable of, or simply because he doesn't care, is beside the point. But it makes for a wonderful cinematic character for sure.
Sanju is not a terrorist, and if I didn't know better, I'd think he's mimicking Shah Rukh Khan's My Name Is Khan when he goes on and on about it. He is thrown in jail, he is miserable, locked in a cell with overflowing sewage as he struggles to find a dry spot, and you cannot help but gasp.
Sanju walks a tightrope between right and wrong. As a viewer, you get caught in a whirlwind of emotions unable to decide whether to hate him in spite of his virtues or love him in spite of his flaws. I just wish, however, Hirani would have toned down the characteristic Munna Bhai voice which, at least for me, borders on mockery. But then again, it was perhaps this devil-may-care approach that Hirani was going for.
Is Baba proud of what he's done, how his life has panned out? The pain, the shame and even the thrill that came with it? Or is he the man who stands tall in spite of all that, is a question I am left with at the end of it. And for that and that alone Sanjay Dutt deserves a biopic, and Sanju paints the perfect picture.