By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “Sanju”; Director: Raj Kumar Hirani; Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Dia Mirza, Manisha Koirala, Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor, Boman Irani, Anjan Shrivastav; Rating: ****
Actor Sanjay Dutt’s life may have been an open book, yet Director Raj Kumar Hirani’s “Sanju” gives you a peek into Sanjay Dutt’s life with an honesty that instantly touches your heart. Sans any gimmicks, Hindi film tropes and unnecessary drama, Hirani lays bare the actor’s life, recounting each milestone of his turbulent and tumultuous life.
The length of the film here – 161 minutes, is not a deterrent, as Hirani manages to keep you hooked, divulging details about Sanjay Dutt’s life, which one may have known, but are brought to life through the sincere and effortless portrayal by Ranbir Kapoor, who essays the character of Sanju with panache.
Whether it is his craving for drugs, breaking down upon learning about his mother’s illness or being denied giving a speech owing to his “terrorist’ connections, there is complete sincerity in his emotions which strike a chord with the audience.
It is no denying that Raj Kumar Hirani is an auteur with a flair for storytelling, He effectively manages to keep the audience engrossed with the simple narrative, which is a journey of emotional upheavals, shocking revelations and tender moments.
The dialogues by Hirani himself and Abhijat Joshi are straightforward, colloquial, yet laced with humour. The songs too mesh perfectly with the narrative and nothing seems out of place.
Ranbir Kapoor shines all the way as Sanju and not only does his physical demeanour resemble that of Sanjay Dutt’s, but he slips into his psyche too and becomes an extension of Dutt, making you see Dutt’s life on screen.
Matching him in histrionics is Vicky Kaushal, an equally talented actor, who is effortlessly convincing as Sanjay’s friend Kamlesh Kanaiyalal Kapasi aka Kamli. He is endearing, as he steals your heart with his simplicity and unabashed affection for Sanju. Their on-screen bond is palpable.
Manisha Koirala as Nargis Dutt is genuine, while Dia Mirza as Sanjay Dutt’s Wife Manyata, is restrained and charming. Anushka Sharma as the renowned author Winnie Diaz fails to leave an impact, but Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt renders a heartfelt performance except for his diction that gives him away. Sonam Kapoor, as his love interest Ruby is effective and Boman Irani, as the quintessential Parsi father, is a delight to watch.
In cameo roles, Jim Sarb as Zubin Mistry, the drug peddler whom Sanjay Dutt refers to as “God” and Anjan Shrivastav in a one scene role as a prominent political figure, are brilliant.
On the technical front the film is mounted with ace production values. The production designs, the camerawork, editing and sound, are expectedly top notch.
The script steers clear from Sanjay Dutt’s personal life and romantic liaisons, but does in no way appear lopsided, as those do not seem intrinsic to the film’s focus.
Overall, ‘Sanju’ with a special emphasis on the father-son relationship, as well as his bond with his friend Kamli, is a heart-warming tale, honestly told.