Movie Reviews

Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘Sanju’ Is An Ode To ‘villainy’ Of Media Towards ‘man-child’ Sanjay Dutt

Written By Shatabdi Chowdhury | Mumbai | Published:

If reading through the reviews of Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘Sanju’ by various media houses made you feel that the movie was solely made for whitewashing the image of Sanjay Dutt, you are wrong. The brilliant screenplay, cast, on-screen performances made sure that Sanju baba’s character (played by Ranbir Kapoor) looks as naive as it could get.

In the movie, in contrast to being compared with a tiger (emphasised time and again with the figurative use of the ‘roar’), Sanju is an innocent ‘lamb’ whom the ‘wolf’ media is ready to devour.

Though, he is shown as a man who was a drug addict for the major part of his life, even disregards his mother’s (Nargis - played by Manisha Koirala) illness in his state of intoxication, is a spoilt brat who humiliates his first ‘serious’ love interest Ruby (Sonam Kapoor) and her family more than once, is a womaniser who even sleeps with his best friend's (Vicky Kaushal) girlfriend, - he still is a good guy, a scapegoat, who does bad things out of his sheer ‘naivety’.

Not just that, the movie, if not too explicitly, does its best to try and show that Sanju hoarded 3 AK-56 rifles, just to protect his family (man-child alert!). And, also, it was suggested that media was trying to portray him as a bad guy by thinking in vain that his self-defense tactics could have any sorts of links with the underworld. That Abu Salem, a gangster and terrorist, visited Sanjay Dutt’s house, along with Samir and Hanif - other accused in the 1993 Mumbai blast case, was used as a passing reference as it was the most normal thing in the world. And, yes, though the movie has repeatedly alleged in its 2 hours 42-minute run-time that media jumps to ‘baseless’ conclusions -  conclusions devoid of any truth to them, let’s go back to Abu Salem’s confession statement to the CBI:

”The vehicle had 9-10 rifles, 80-90 hand grenades, magazines, and bullets. I was seeing these things for the first time. I was shocked. Sanjay Dutt, Baba and Hingora saw the rifles. Dutt took 2-3 rifles, hand grenades, a few bullets, and magazines.”

HAND GRENADES! - Didn’t remember their mention in the movie, oh, Salem might be trying to frame Dutt. (Note: Moved by Rajkumar Hirani’s accusations, I have used a full-stop instead of a question mark).

Sanju, while dealing with Sanjay Dutt's dubious links with the underworld, highlights his suffering during his jail term massively, however, the fact that he left his cell at least on six occasions was nowhere mentioned in the movie. Out of the five-year jail term, Dutt spent  164 days outside the prison for various reasons like his backache to daughter’s nose surgery. Not that we are saying that he was not entitled to all those paroles and furloughs, it was a bit different for a septuagenarian, Zaibunissa Kazi, who was basically convicted of the same crime as Dutt. With Dutt, even she received the same quantum of punishment - five years, for hoarding illegal weapons. But, ‘Sanju’ was acquitted by the TADA court, she wasn’t.

Going back to the accusation that media was insensitive towards Dutt - I remember reading 'cute' articles about Sanju baba making paper bags in jail, him writing letters to his loved ones. Didn’t Kazi write any ? I just remember, one quote, a quote by Kazi’s daughter, wherein she wished she was ‘a celebrity or her mother was a celebrity’- as that was the only way she could get the kind of support Dutt was getting.

I also don’t remember throngs of journalists awaiting her release to capture the precious moment in the camera - oh but then she wasn’t acquitted.

Then there is the ‘funny’ scene where an angry Sunil Dutt (played by Paresh Rawal) confronts a newspaper for writing off his son in a report, which as per his belief was false. I call it ‘funny’ because the editor actually tells him the source of the report, rendering Sunil Dutt’s allegation baseless, however, the latter still reprimands him for using a question mark in his headline - “FINISHED?” He then struts out of the frame, only after rewriting the headline as ‘NOT FINISHED’ (with a full stop), with pride written all over his face.

Media bashing in ‘Sanju’ reaches its zenith as the end credit of the movie rolls and real life Sanju joins the reel one on-screen - in a catchy number - ‘Baba bolta hai abhi bas ho gaya’.  The song is a final reminder to the audience of the ‘viciousness’ and hypocrisy of media as its lyrics goes like:

“Chappi jiski khabar, bani uski kabar, Kisi high court ka usko nahi darr. Loop mein ghumake ek jhooth bar bar, Jhooth itna bada hai, ki saach ho gaya."

And, as my article reaches its acme, I have just one last thing to say - Rajkumar Hirani, ‘Sanju’ is brilliant - in every aspect’...

...But, 'Baba, Abhi Bas Ho Gaya’!

 

 

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