-Ibrahim Hafeezur Rehman
The pathway to ones education is always clear and unending if one is willing to pick up lessons from the long and winding pot-hole filled streets of life. Each journey and each life has something to offer for the takers provided they have an open mind. Raj Kumar Hirani is one film maker whose celluloid conversion of his vivid imagination as well as his presentation in a format closer to masses oriented (called commercial) section of the Mumbai film industry is always a treat to watch and Sanju is no exception to this rule. While venturing to see the movie one wondered as to what could be on offer from a life so ordinary or even negative with its frequent forays into darker sides or aspects not only bordering but actually entering criminality. For the film makers of such biopics the temptation is to glorify or justify the negative aspects by either presenting them in a larger than life frame or by a contorted justification of the same. Hirani refreshingly does not attempt to do either and honestly captures the tremors and tribulations of a life lived not so honourably.
While praising Hirani it is also important to point out that the honesty emanates more from the protagonist of the film than the film maker. It is well known that Sanjay Dutt not only gave permission for the Biopic but shared his inner thoughts and events in a most candid and honest manner. It is this honesty that makes this biopic of sorts not only interesting but meaningful in terms of its ability like previous Hirani films to carry some broad messages. First and foremost it tells us that negative actions be it drug abuse or criminal actions have their costs which one cannot escape from and needs to face them upfront. Second, the movie teaches us that as parents we may have exemplary social profiles and conduct codes but it is important to see that children are not burdened with such legacies but are eased into such expectations or roles or dealt with as individuals rather than as offsprings of so and so. Third, it brings out the fact that people who stick their neck out in tough situation to help others do it often at a huge cost to self and family. Fourth, which perhaps is most important in current context is that the people with and at the behest of a commercial TRP oriented media should not play judge and jury as it can have catastrophic consequences for individuals or even families. Last but not the least the critical lesson comes from the appreciation of the film by masses is that if you are honest and candid about your faults and shortcomings society at large will empathise with you provided the offence is not heinous, anti national or barbaric.
The script and direction as in most Hirani presentations is racy, lucid, at times gripping and throughout the film more than engaging. Performances are all excellent with Ranbir Kapoor as Sanjay Dutt exemplary in the way he has been able to capture nuances related to Dutt’s gait or swagger, accent or lingo and most importantly the honesty alongwith the changing and evolving maturity levels of character. Paresh Rawal as Dutt Senior is not only convincing but as endearing as the Late Dutt Saab himself. Anushka Sharma as a writer and Dia Mirza as Manyata gave the required weight and grace to roles which if played by anyone else would have looked not so significant. The icing on the cake is Vicky Kaushal who gives a solid and superb performance as Kamlesh one of the central characters in the movie. To sum up the movie is an excellent watch that stays with you for sometime after you come out of the theatres and makes you think.