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Movie review of Sanju: A well-intended 'Baba' - a black-sheep, but not a dark horse
'#Sanju' - an anecdotal account of one of India's most controversial and popular film-personalities - Sanjay "Baba" Dutt, the film has been a well-intended effort to tell a behind-the-scenes story.

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Sanjay Dutt, Vicky Kaushal, Manisha Koirala, Paresh Rawal, Jim Sarbh, Dia Mirza

Director: Raj Kumar Hirani

Genre: Biopic

Running time: 2h 41m

Reviewers rating: 6/10

Despite his stature as a movie-icon, an already well-known account of Sanjay's life events is presented – starting from a brat struggling to lip-sync while first-facing the camera under his father's direction; dealing terribly with the untimely demise of his beloved mother; his horrendous drug addiction causing loss of his first love; the infamous underworld connections destroying his family life as he kept losing his dearest of friends in addition to his TADA court cases and not to mention his commercial failures. However, he ended up improving his ways by not quitting or running away, to make a comeback through his family's support and sheer resilience.

Clearly, it is all a rather favourable depiction. And why not, when it's full of fun, frolic and sentiments sprinkled tastefully across. Rajkumar Hirani has taken dramatic liberties throughout but ends up making a likably semi-fictional account.

But despite being in the news for a considerably long period of time, the film doesn't live up to the galactic hype of its promos. Just like Sanju's nature, the film has its thorough flaws – forgone assumptions about the background of his parents and his relationship with his siblings, the absence of mentioning any of his previous marriages and influential friends, his childhood – are only to name a few.

However, the most glaring shortcoming is the unilateral lambasting of the media. Seemingly, the media had unanimously sensationalised and questioned the man's existence. There's vivid, intense hatred towards the "dimwitted" media covering the better part of the film, making it preachy and even moronically foolish, culminating with an entire song (featuring the real and reel Sanju) – "Baba Bolta Hain Bas Ho Gaya".

That brings us to the music which is barely passable and certainly forgettable. I was surprised and disappointed at the same time to know that one of the composers was AR Rahman.

Now, coming to the good parts – the cinematography by Hirani and Ravi Verman (Barfi) are massive pluses while watching a seamless transition of events. The film's dialogues are full of references with yesteryear's memorable songs (whose lyricists are referred fondly as "Ustaads"). "Naa Sarr Jhukha Ke Jiyo...", "Iss Duniya Mein Jeena Hoh Toh Kaam Kar, Pyaare...", "Kuch Toh Logg Kahenge..." - each coming with passing on a lesson from father to his son.

Therefore, just it happened in reality, the backbone of the film is its narration of the evergreen bond between late Sunil Dutt and Sanjay. There are some genuinely moving scenes with a sublime Paresh Rawal (National Film Award recipient) and Ranbir – sharing their pains and dealings. Hirani, who deftly handles his actors (a special mention for Manisha Koirala and Vicky Kaushal, the other two pillars of the film) without over-enunciating their parts and uplifts from the film's not so engaging portions (involving brief and forgettable Anushka Sharma, Dia Mirza and Jim Sarbh).

Undoubtedly, this film is what it has become because of Ranbir Kapoor. His mannerisms seem on-point and never once become caricaturish. As he famously had stated in an interview that while an actor impersonating someone on-screen, after the first few minutes of warming up to that presence it becomes the actor's responsibility to convince all that there's no difference between the subject and the portrayer.

So, Ranbir does everything with his inimitable honesty. Yet, in places, he moves away from the portrayal which, unfortunately, can't be helped but noticed. Still, it's an overall soul-stirring experience to watch him.

"Sanju" may serve as a shrine for fans of Sanjay Dutt, but for others, it doesn't hold much. Sadly, the film is not at par with any of the Rajkumar Hirani films made, and neither does complete justice to such a highly eventful life of a film star.

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