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Reel vs Real: ‘Sanju’ Is a Well-Made Biopic, But Do Remember It Is a Movie

While the film does not completely portray Sanjay Dutt as a saint, it is a very slick attempt at discriminating between the shades of grey.

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“What’s there to watch a movie that is glorifying a criminal?” is what I was asked before I stepped into the theatre to watch the much talked about Ranbir Kapoor starrer ‘Sanju’.

There was an era when movies told tales of bravery and courage, of heroic deeds and acts performed, of successful athletes and the underdog who wins; and now we have Sanju–an attempt to portray the big bad life that Sanjay Dutt has led until now.

In this article, I try and answer one gnawing question that many people seem to have – does the movie glorify his life and make him out be something he is not?

1. Sanju is essentially the story of a father and a son

Being the son of famous parents can never be easy – at best, it’s complicated. At various stages in the movie, Hirani has dealt with how small Sanjay Dutt feels before his larger than life parents: Sunil Dutt and Nargis Dutt.

A particularly telling scene is played out between reel-life Sanju and the author of his biography, played by Anushka Sharma when he tells her about the two times that his father cried with joy seeing what Sanjay did.

The need to get the approval of his parents, especially his father’s, forms the core of this movie.

A story of a father and a son
Photo Source: Twitter

2. His relationship with various substances and their role in destroying him

That Sanjay Dutt was an addict is a matter of public knowledge. What is perhaps not known to many, is his struggle to let go of it. In a very poignant scene, Sanju tells his friend how he got hooked on to drugs – the first time he tasted it was when his father humiliated him on the sets of his first film, the second time was when he learnt about his mother’s illness, and by the time third time, he was hooked.

His struggle to give up his addiction is portrayed in a very realistic manner.

A rather chilling scene from the movie
Photo Source: Free Press Journal

There has been no attempt to make his struggle look cool. It’s as messy as can be.

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3. ‘Sanju’ also conveys a message to the popular media

As journalists and media houses are constantly looking for stories that will go viral, they sensationalise and sometimes even fictionalise events.

There is a strong reference in the movie about this constant pursuit for headlines that sell.

Sensationalising news
Photo Source: Nick Youngson

And how just because sometimes a hint is published in the media, it just becomes the truth.

It portrays how media houses get away with almost anything and everything with the usage of words like ‘according to sources’, ‘allegedly’ etc.

The Verdict

While the film does not completely portray Sanjay Dutt as a saint, it is a very slick attempt at discriminating between the shades of grey.

The crux of the movie is that while Sanjay Dutt might have been a bad son, a bad friend, bad boyfriend, and even a bad citizen – what he is not, is a terrorist.

Many shades of Sanjay Dutt
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

Is it an accurate portrayal? One can never say because we are not privy to his personal life. It is a movie after all, and parts of it do seem dramatised for effect.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

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