Directed by Rajkumar Hirani
Starring: Paresh Rawal, Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal
Rating: 5 / 5
Few famous people have been media-mauled as much as Sanjay Dutt has. And ever fewer have emerged undefeated from this mauling. Sanju is the portrayal of modern Bollywood’s most controversy-cornered actors – Sanjay Dutt.
Eclipsed time and again by life’s rollercoaster orbiting, Sanju shows you how Sanjay Dutt kept his spark alive. Here are a few takeaways from what is easily one of 2018’s best films, Rajkumar Hirani’s finest work and Ranbir Kapoor’s most stupendous performance.
The Power of the Pen
I remember being a young student when Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani was released in 2000. The media was outraged at the portrayal of journalists in the film. It showed the dark side of their dealings and questioned their professional ethics. At that time, Shobha De retorted with an apt column. She reminded scribes of the time when Sanjay Dutt was on the brink of his film career, with Rocky (1981).
He lost his dear mother a few days before the premier. At that time, rather than softening their stance on the young and deeply aggrieved man, critics panned him for his acting. Never mind the fact that he had to face the camera and the truth of his mother’s imminent death together. Film magazines and newspapers chose to use the “power” of their pens to bring down a promising talent.
Nothing seems to have changed in the passing years. Sanju proves that. How unverified news makes front page headlines. How tabloids pass judgements before the Supreme Court does. And how – boy-oh-boy how – a single question mark is all it takes to turn the life of a human being upside down.
The True Wealth of a Man
As un-envious of Sanjay Dutt you may be for his fate, Sanju gives you one thing to be envious of him for: a rock-solid support system.
What with his mother’s tragic death, the drug addiction (which the film unabashedly depicts), his first wife’s death and the convictions for arms possession – Sanjay Dutt could have been an abandoned sinking ship. Yet, his father (played superbly by Paresh Rawal) and his one friend Kamlesh (a marvellous Vicky Kaushal) are his anchors, mast, oars, sails and rudders. They stand by him time and again, fighting tooth-and-nail to bring him back to his feet after every fall.
In The Name of The Father
A poignant eulogy to Sunil Dutt, Sanju is one of the most moving depictions of a father-son relationship. The young Sanjay Dutt is seen struggling to live up to the cinematic, social and political legend that his father is. Spectacularly portrayed by Ranbir Kapoor, the 20-something actor is irreverent, unfettered and downright impulsive. It all comes to a screeching halt in front of his father.
The latter remains patient and adamantine on reforming his son, for his son’s sake. And he succeeds at every juncture, bringing Sanju out of demonic situations through the ages.
We marvel at the modern-day fathers who change their children’s diapers and do their hair. Hardly ever touching his son, here’s a man who becomes as intuitive as a mother and remains as firm as a father. He takes on the world to prove that his son will be vindicated, no matter what.
The heartbreaking speech by a son for his father in Sanju will surely draw out your tears. Before he thanks his father, he tells him – You deserved a better son. Of course, that son would have loved him less. Sanju is a beautiful story of the father, son and ghost. Ghosts of Sanjay Dutt’s life and trials, that is.
Parenting v/s Childing
Everything from books to blogs is agog with parenting tips. From toddlers to teens – how to talk, how to teach or how to tame. I think it’s time for someone to also talk about Childing. Showing children how to just be, vis-à-vis their parents. They need to look beyond Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the like to really understand their parents.
Maybe “getting” parents is not that easy at a young age. But we need to make children try. Why a mother loses her patience, what a parent has to give up for some time, how they struggle to create comforts and more for kids – children need to understand all this. In small doses, age-appropriate doses but doses nonetheless. Not to make them feel guilty.
Kids need to understand what and why parents are what they are so they value them and value life in general. I believe inculcating this sensitivity will safeguard them against the 21st century demons – social media pressure, peer pressure, possible substance abuse and worse.
In Sanju, you live the story of a man who doesn’t just fall but nosedives, crashes and wrecks. Kamlesh, a modest man, forgets about buying a car and spends his life’s savings on a ticket to India when his friend Sanju needs him. He teaches Sanju to “roar” at the face of every challenge. Director Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju is one of his loudest roars. And it won’t stop reverberating in people’s minds.
Watch Sanju for sure. Once with your friends and once with your parents. There’s enough laughter and several lessons to go home with. And once, watch it all by yourself. So you find that “roar” within you. That’s what Sanju Baba ka life bolta hai.
Check out Sanju tickets in Goregaon theatres here