Everything seems to be a joke in the eagerly awaited trailer of Rajkumar Hirani’s “Sanju”, based on the life of Sanjay Dutt. A cruel joke told in the form of a psychedelic fable replete with visuals of Sanju baba aka Ranbir Kapoor, high on drugs, so high that he can’t tell the difference between a laugh and a cry, or a mangalsutra and a toilet seat.
In a sequence meant to be deafeningly shrill in its hysterical repudiation of a traumatic marriage, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja shrieks for her missing mangalsutra, and her high-as-a-kite husband drapes her neck with a toilet seat.
Toilets occur twice in the longish trailer. The second time we see Sanju in a dingy prison cell panicking as the inbuilt toilet vomits yellow liquid excreta in nauseating bubbles.
Realism during the times of surrealism. Great, Mr. Hirani. Filmmaking needs to be learnt from you. But no. I am not convinced. I am not convinced about Ranbir’s performance. It seems dangerously close to mimicking Sanjay Dutt (which by the way the stand-up comedian Sanket Bhosale does very well).
The atmosphere created is light, fluffy, woozy and jokey even in the scenes of horrific torture where Ranbir’s Sanju cracks up after one resounding slap from a policeman interrogating him for his alleged terror activity. It is again an unintentionally funny moment because the real Sanjay Dutt must have cracked up so many times under duress without looking like he has just been caught eating an extra gulab jamun for dessert.
Sanjay’s saga is a chronicle of self-abuse and voluntary destruction. Neither of these aspects is highlighted or even mentioned in the trailer. Barring the small glimpse of Manisha Koirala as Sanjay’s legendary mother Nargis, every actor seems to be in this for the fun of it. Vicky Kaushal, so majestically restrained in “Raazi”, is specially annoying as Sanju’s sidekick smirking about “say-ex”.
And Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt behaves as if his son is an angel targeted by all the devils in the world. This is completely wrong. I remember how beleaguered and troubled senior Dutt was by his son’s antics. Speaking to me, he had called his son a “bidga beta (a brat)” spoilt by his mother. In the trailer, it seems the senior Dutt blames the world for his son’s troubles.
I presume this is Hirani’s idea of rustic charm. Everything in the trailer seems to be done for effect. Anushka Sharma (with a specially-cropped haircut to look the part) asks Sanjay how many women he has slept with besides his girlfriends. (Which journalist asks such questions in Mumbai’)
“Does that include prostitutes’ 308… no make that 350 just to be on the safe side,” Ranbir’s Sanju deadpans.
The overweening cuteness of an incorrigible hedonist is unbearable to digest.
The only moment that actually had me laughing was when director Mahesh Manjrekar calls Sanjay Dutt saying the shot is ready. Sanju pretends to be stuck in the traffic.
“But I’ve called you on the landline,” protests Manjrekar with a laugh.
That’s it. Everyone each time — from mom Nargis to friend Manjrekar — laughed off Sanju baba’s wrongdoings.
Judging by the trailer, it seems we’re supposed to do the same.
By Subhash K. Jha