SANJU Movie Review: Ranbir Kapoor’s master class in Hirani’s brilliant shades of grey

SANJU is a rare piece of art, it may not be the story that you are dying to know but it is an absorbing and engaging piece of cinema that has an actor giving the performance of his lifetime


Ranbir Kapoor’s master class in Hirani’s brilliant shades of grey

An Incredible filmmaker, a trendsetter like Raj Kumar Hirani, an amazing actor like Ranbir Kapoor who is fearless and is ready for any experiment shake hand to portray the real life story of a star like Sanjay Dutt whose charisma has been in race with controversies surrounding the son of a respected father – Sunil Dutt, the actor who later turned into a politician with a heart of gold.

After blending human issues with fresh, funny, on screen sly incursions – be it medical (MUNNABHAI series), education (3 IDIOTS) or faith (PK) Rajkumar Hirani holds the megaphone to tell the story of Sanjay Dutt fondly called as ‘baba’ in SANJU.


A biopic is a tricky business, sometimes we come across stories which needs to be told and is not known. At times there are also stories, which are generally known but still has something hidden. Interestingly, SANJU starring Ranbir Kapoor doesn’t fall in either categories, it creates its own.

Rajkumar Hirani’s SANJU is a story of a man every Indian knows, the life of Sanjay Dutt has been in public domain and Sanjay Dutt is not Sachin Tendulkar or Nelson Mandela. This makes the job of the filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani more difficult and experimental in how to make the sensational and controversial life of Sanjay Dutt which gathered all the eye balls for all the reasons into an absorbing, enthralling and enjoyable piece of cinema for good reasons.

Was it a bad choice to make a movie on the ‘King of bad choices?… certainly not. Sanjay Dutt is a flawed character a man who makes mistakes and lives on impulse, RajKumar Hirani has smartly not idolized his ‘hero’ in the biopic. He remains vulnerable till the end and in no way an attempt is made to turn ‘baba’ into a saint.


SANJU is an emotionally charged drama between a father and son, a new adage on bromance and a slap on media all in one. SANJU is spoofy, dark, provoking and emotionally involving. SANJU is not the Rajkumar Hirani blend of feel good messenger, its dark and has its considerable shades of grey powered by an act of brilliance by Ranbir Kapoor, which is nothing short of a master class.

The writers Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi begin with a spoofy encounter of Sanju (Ranbir Kapoor) who is about to get a jail term for possessing illegal arms. The movie star Sanju a superstar of his times hires a writer Winnie (Anushka Sharma) to tell his version in the arms case and the Mumbai blast. Beginning from his first stint as an actor as a 17 year old with his debut ROCKY (1981), the movie traces the journey of Sanju, his drug addiction, friction with his respected father, his tryst with reality and fake, his choices, temperament and its after effects.

Rajkumar Hirani focuses the first half on Sanju’s battle with drugs, Sanjay Dutt is a known survivor and has campaigned for the movement ‘say no to drugs’, surprisingly that footage are not included in this biopic. Those who have come later may not be aware of the phase Sanjay Dutt had gone through during his fight with drugs. There are shock elements during the first half, which may shake those who are not aware what addiction can do to people. The second half dwells into the zone known to everyone as it is in the public domain. When the episodes of TADA and Arms Act case are dealt. There is no glorification and as an audience we know that the star is paying for his mistakes.


The surprise element in this biopic is the sly attack on media and the bromance between Ranbir and Vicky. We expected an emotional attachment between Paresh Rawal and Ranbir Kapoor who play father and son and its heart rendering…

SANJU the biopic on the king of bad choices may not be an ultimate choice of subject for a Rajkumar Hirani film or even for a biopic but it’s certainly a winning piece of cinema.

Ranbir Kapoor is class apart. Its not about how well he has got into the skin of Sanjay Dutt, it’s about what will be the next benchmark from now as an actor for Ranbir Kapoor. The body language, the drooping sprawling walk, those goofy eyes the Mumbai lingo blended with that Juhu – Bandra type English spoken in that impeccable tone Ranbir Kapoor is a sheer pleasure. The actor has delivered a master class and SANJU is his career best.

Paresh Rawal gives a stellar performance and has some heart touching moments with Ranbir. Manisha Koirala makes her presence felt and has her moments. Jim Sarbh is at his slimy best. Anushka Sharma is endearing. Sonam Kapoor is fantastic. Dia Mirza is elegant, Boman Irani is superb. Karishma Tanna impresses in one scene and Sayaji Shinde is in his known element.

And last but not the least, Vicky Kaushal is in one world extraordinary. The gifted actor in a way serves as a simile for the audience and gives a knockout performance.

Technically brilliant with great production values, SANJU would have been incomplete without a special shout for Vikram Gaikwad the key makeup artiste in the transformation of Ranbir Kapoor to Sanjay Dutt. Sanjay Wandrekar cinematography is eye popping. Editing by S Ravi Varman is crisp. However the music by A R Rahman, Rohan Rohan and Vikram Montrose has nothing to shout about. The background score is not as desired.

SANJU has its shares of flaws, its completely filmy, manipulatively dramatic and takes cinematic liberty at will. It’s not an ‘all is well’ kind of a messenger though a message is delivered in the end but it’s more of a father son drama. Some episodes are omitted and in one particular scene a senior politician is shown as a caricature, which is not in good taste.

SANJU is a rare piece of art, it may not be the story that you are dying to know but it is an absorbing and engaging piece of cinema that has an actor giving the performance of his lifetime, a feat that every actor will die to achieve. As Sanjay Dutt is flawed, moody and eccentric, Ranbir Kapoor is precise and perfect as ‘baba’ on screen. After a while you will feel that you are watching Sanjay Dutt on screen not Ranbir Kapoor. Such is the impact and when in the end credits the real and reel ‘baba’ shake a leg… It’s an unusual joy… bole toh entertainment fultu fatak.

Critic review