• Priyanka Agarwal

Sanju looks good, but that’s it

Updated: Nov 16, 2018

It’s advisable to take this Ranbir Kapoor-starrer with a pinch of salt and treat it like a mass entertainer–nothing more.

Rajkumar Hirani’s films are like amusement parks. Think emotional roller coasters, nail-biting adventure, gorgeous locations, and plenty of eye-catching colour. They’re candylands that will leave you beaming as you exit the park theatre.


But is this approach apt for a dark dramedy as Sanju? If Hirani is the maverick he is, he and his team must have seamlessly blended the greys and blacks into his trademark poptastic palette, which is quite evident from the trailer. Despite his expertise at pulling off dramatic tonal shifts in a matter of scenes, I’m worried.

I had around 308 girlfriends, says Sanju. Is that a boast?

No, there’s no questioning his visual and directorial mastery–the three-minute clip is a feast for the eyes. Special mention for the casting, most of which is so on point (I’m especially looking forward to seeing Vicky Kaushal, Jim Sarbh, and Sanjay Dutt’s contemporaries such as Mahesh Manjrekar and Sayaji Shinde in whatever roles they’re essaying). It’s the basic nuts and bolts of the screenplay and storytelling that has me bothered this time.


Sanju (Ranbir Kapoor) says he did drugs the first time because he was angry at his father. The second round was because of his mother’s illness. By the third time, he had become an addict. Notice the use of the word ‘because’ in the first two sentences of this paragraph. You know what it sounds like? Playing the victim card. Blaming circumstances instead of manning up and owning responsibility. No, he doesn’t admit that he messed up. Even his confession of having had “308 girlfriends” comes more from a place of “boys will be boys” than “please don’t end up like me”. The prison sequences only contribute to Baba’s bechara image.

Disclaimer: Sanju is my “autobiography,” admits the man himself.

I don’t think you can call Sanju a biopic. In fact, at the beginning of the trailer itself, the man announces that it’s his “autobiography”. It means the movie is a first-person account of Sanjay Dutt and his “variety” wala life. Everything is from his perspective alone. So, I wouldn’t recommend walking into the cinema hall and expecting objectivity, thorough research, and an exploration of the subject matter from multiple angles, all of which are the cornerstones of a biography.


The reason I liked Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar was the Rashomon-style treatment of the story, giving us different viewpoints on one murder case. She leaves it to us, the audience, to decide which version to believe. Perhaps, Hirani could have adopted a similar technique, or something better. Compressing 40 years of an individual’s life into a three-hour flick is no mean task, but candyland approaches are certainly not the way to go. Still, I hope to leave the theatre not just smiling but also satisfied. And enlightened.


Watch the trailer for Sanju here:


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© 2018 by Priyanka Agarwal.