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Sanjay Dutt Hero Or Villain? A Review Of Sanju Baba’s Journey As Both

The Sanjay Dutt biopic “Sanju” was released on 29th of June made by one of the best filmmakers of the B-town, Rajkumar Hirani. It was marketed as an “unbelievably true story”. Indeed Dutt’s journey is unbelievable. However, there have been many unbelievable personalities too such as Dawood or Osama. Sorry for comparing Dutt with Don and Terrorist. The drugs, booze, women, and AK 56 make Sanju a largely negative character in the real world. Not his fault, according to the film.

Sanjay Dutt Hero or Villain

Some people say Sanjay Dutt doesn’t deserve a biopic as there are many “good” people, with their “good” work, that go unnoticed. The argument over whether Dutt deserves a biopic or not is inane. It’s like saying Dhoni’s biopic should have been made after his retirement. The truth is, biopics are made on interesting people, not the good ones, especially if it is of commercial in nature. If that interesting people is a negative character, it gets more publicity. Also, a “fictional” biopic cannot be real. Be it Dangal, MS Dhoni, Dashrath Manjhi, Mary Kom, Azhar, Gautam Gambhir or Rahul Dravid. Wait... Gautam Gambhir? Rahul Dravid? When was a biopic made on them? And, who took such poor venture? Probably they fall under the club of those “good people with their good work.”

In Dangal, Geeta’s real-life coach, under whose guidance she won the medal, was depicted as an insensitive villain who locked the father-cum-wrestler in a room right before the final wrestling match in which gold medal was at stake. In fact, he was shown as if he is deliberately trying to make Geeta lose. Mahavir’s inclusion of non-veg diet for Geeta to gain weight despite the fact of the wrestler being a strict vegetarian, and ridiculing the veg diet. Dhoni has clearly stated that he doesn’t want any villain in his biopic. Not even Greg Chappell (He didn't categorically mention the Greg Chappell’s part). But how can a real-life villain not be shown as a villain on screen? In Dangal, there is character assassination, while in 'MS Dhoni', there is cover up.

The question, that remains unanswered, is — with such alterations, can it really be termed as a biopic? So, why take it personally? Enjoy it like a regular fiction.

Sanju Review

Sanju Review Ranbir Kapoor

Films have wide implications for youths, especially the teenagers. And the ones made by Hirani are remembered for decades. His films are known for a surreal mix of humour, melodrama, and gyaan. Humour can be rough and intense. The melodrama that makes eyes teary. And in the end, the film reaches out to the audience by teaching them something really nice. His films are refreshing with an awesome happy ending. Most enjoyable when watched with friends or family. But scenes such as Chatur a.k.a Silencer’s speech in 3 idiots or the dancing-car in PK can be slightly awkward while watching with family. The politically incorrect dialogues make many feel offensive, but the presentation and hysteria make it viable.

Sanju is different in the league of Rajkumar Hirani’s masterpieces. It did what was not expected of Hirani — to clean up Dutt’s public perception and to shift the blame. It can’t be categorically said if it is a “propaganda film" with the intention of glorifying Dutt. It beautifully illustrates the grey areas of Dutt’s life depicting the fault lines but with an innocence that arouses pity. But it does glorify Dutt as a kind-hearted, foolish man with all his innocence, from Munnabhai — the adorable bhai with a golden heart, who despite being a bhai, calls himself social worker and is always keen to help people in need. Anyway, it depends on perspective so some of you might find the biopic as brainwashing material for the public to prove that Dutt is not a terrorist. I didn’t find the movie as such.

The film has talked about human flaws, the emotional father-son relationship, two aspects of friendship — good friendship and bad friendship. The bad one pushes you in the hallucinating world. The good one pulls you out. The real test of friendship is always in the bad times. Sanju best friend Kamlesh (Vicky Kaushal) comes as the last ray of hope to Sanju when he was struggling in the battle against drugs. It's emotional, it's funny, it's sad, it's bitter, it's sweet. The youth could learn from Sanju mistakes. It tells the people stories of Dutt's life that they would not have known otherwise, such as what was happening in the Dutt household when Sanju was accused of the crime? What was his family going through, especially his father? How were his friends reacting?

In all the fuss, Ranbir's acting cannot be downplayed. At places, he looks and even sounds exactly similar to Dutt. Ranbir and the makeup artists must have worked a lot to achieve this feat. There are many unrelated songs injected between the scenes giving it the touch of classic Bollywood films.

The downfall of Dutt as an actor can be attributed to several factors. By saying that the best script goes to the khans first would be an excuse, even if there is some fact to it. It appears to remind the contemporary filmmakers that Sanju is a hero who only looks like a villain. Stop giving him offers based on his outer appearance. Few actors could do that after giving a flop show on screen. Dutt was among one of them as he did make a comeback, even after going through the worst. The Munnabhai series is probably the most successful among all the movies the actor has worked so far.

The film is primarily based upon two tracks, the gun story and the drugs story. The stories of Dutt's struggle in fighting these two battles. The gun story is messy considering Dutt's friendship with the underworld, and murky with the outbreak of 1993 riot along with his confession. The battle against drugs must have been intense and that's what shown in the movie. But again, there seems to be a justification for why Sanju started drugs. It has never been his fault.

Gun and Drugs story Sanju

Then an attempt has been made to put the blame squarely on media. How can media be blamed for Dutt’s intimacy with the underworld? It is convenient to put the blame on the media and politicians. I too disagree with the modus operandi of our judgemental media but they do not initiate things. Their unbearable interest in some individual case is because of their laziness.

Women in Dutt’s life play a trivial role, mostly because they keep changing. Sanju had a relationship with women like humans have with plastics. Use and throw. Outrageous, isn’t it? But what do that “308 girlfriends” signify? Seems his life was bit lusty than romantic. “Agle din apun ke mohalle me Aishwarya aayi.” Who can forget this catchy line from Munnabhai MBBS! But we never thought this was for real.

Final verdict

By the very basic definition of terrorism, Dutt cannot be termed as a terrorist. By keeping a banned and unlicensed weapon is a crime, but may not be at the time of riots when receiving threat calls. In case of an organised mob attack, what can be a better way to dismantle them? A loaded automatic weapon supplied by whoever. This is not the right approach. Neither can it said to be wrong. This is where right-minded extremists stuck. When no obvious conclusion can be drawn.

It is very difficult to assume the predicaments of Bombay in the 90’s at today’s vantage point. The gang war, kidnapping, extortion and killing people just to show who the “real boss” is. Those are covered in books, Bollywood films and, in news stories. Yet it sounds like fancy sci-fi Hollywood films.

Sanju is not an outstanding work like 3 idiots, Munnabhai, and PK. But it is worth your time. Those having no idea about the real Sanju may find themselves hooked to the storyline. Sanjay Dutt’s journey has been full of flaws whose life has been very mythical, so it must have been an honest venture of Hirani to present his story to the world. After watching Sanju, you would say this man may be a terrorist or not but he certainly deserves a biopic!

The movie has further opened up the debate on whether Dutt’s “real” life was heroic or he should be treated like any other criminal. Like Talvar, a film on Aarushi Talwar’s murder case, Sanju, too, raises more question than it answers.

Sanju Poster and Review

Rating: (3/5): ⭐⭐⭐

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