Ever since the trailer of “Sanju” came out, I waited in anticipation for its release. Ranbir Kapoor, who plays the titular role, seemed to be a spitting image of Sanjay Dutt. I couldn’t wait to witness the journey of this complex character on screen, and I had faith that Rajkumar Hirani, one of the most celebrated directors of our country, would do justice. But, my expectations crashed and how!
Last Friday, I excitedly marched on to the theatre to watch the show. The hall was packed – and I could sense how everyone was waiting with bated breath for the movie to begin. After all, ‘bad decisions make great stories’ (that’s also a dialogue in this film). But this film, in my eyes, was only a mistake!
When you make a biopic on a controversial actor, you expect to be a part of his highs and lows. That’s why cinema is beautiful; it unravels itself in the most fascinating manner. Most of you might disagree with my views, but for me, “Sanju” was nothing but Hirani’s attempt to glorify Sanjay Dutt. Right from him OD-ing on drugs to sleeping around with women, every action was projected in a manner to evoke sympathy for the man who’s supposedly never done anything wrong. He’s a privileged man-child who is always mollycoddled by everyone – because it’s never his fault.
An individual’s formative years are significant to shaping them. It isn’t uncommon to fall prey to the forbidden, especially at a tender age – and it so happens that a lot of our actions are triggered by peer pressure. It is at such times that parents attempt to lend an ear or try to open to you to make you worldly-wise. Unfortunately, Sunil Dutt (played by Paresh Rawal) worries and worries more about his son. But all he does is give sermons. He either overlooks his son’s mistakes or pretends to play tough. There’s really no balance here. At one such moment, where Sanju (who, by now, has become an alcoholic and a stoner) has a desperate urge to gulp down a few drinks, he rebels against his father who seems to have hidden his stash. Not one to listen, Sanju doesn’t bat an eyelid and lands at his girlfriend’s house at an unearthly hour and demands alcohol. He does not show an iota of shame, because he’s used to being privileged.
Every time he takes drugs, we’re made to believe that this is his mechanism to cope up with all the emotional turmoil in his life. As far as drug addiction is concerned, the movie seems to convey that drugs can be a fallback, when nothing’s going right. You can’t send out the wrong message, just to put an actor on a pedestal.
During the course of the film, we realise how Sanju dotes on his mother. The moment he hears of her terminal illness, he is shattered. He wants to be by her side and do all he can for her, but his drug addiction overpowers him and he loses control. For once, let’s believe he was unable to deal with the trauma. But despite giving a ‘vachan’ to his father, he snorts cocaine while his mother is on her death bed. How do we justify this?
He is not a dutiful son – but perhaps, you’d expect him to stay committed to his girlfriend, Ruby (Sonam Kapoor). It’s literally a crime to expect anything from this film. When his girlfriend waits for Sanju at a court, he holds her up and doesn’t turn up at his marriage. A furious Ruby demands an answer from a stoned Sanju, who conveniently garlands her with a commode seat. When it’s absolutely justified for her to kick up a storm, she tells Sanju’s friend to keep this incident undisclosed – “kyuki wo seh nahi payega (because he won’t be able to bear it).” Entitlement much?
He doesn’t even spare his only loyal friend, Kamlesh (hats off to Vicky Kaushal, by the way, who excelled in this role). So, Kamlesh (aka Kamli) backs his extremely annoying, good-for-nothing friend every single time. In fact, whenever Sanju needs Kamli by his side, his friend travels across seven seas (or even beyond) to be there for his friend. And what does Sanju do? He does ghapaghap (sex) with Kamli’s love interest. Because loyalty isn’t really cool for Sanju – and it’s fine because he takes his friend for granted! Even when he befriends gangsters and hoards rifles under the pretext of protecting his father, Sunil Dutt and Kamli run from pillar to post to bail him out. After all, it’s Sanju and he is allowed to commit any number of mistakes.
What this movie propagates is a litany of excuses for bad behaviour and how ‘boys will be boys’, because they can get away with anything. This movie is exactly like Sanju’s drugged state – it has its highs and lows. Hirani has handpicked the choicest of incidents that will trigger sympathy and manipulate the audience’s emotions. On the other hand, if the director had advised the audience to not babysit men, and instead, hold them accountable for their actions, the story would have been completely different!