Did you get emotional when Sanjay Dutt narrated you about his life?
I have known Sanjay since a long time and he spoke about his life openly without any hesitation. He is a strong man. When I finished the writing of the script and presented it before him, I saw tears in his eyesand that touched me.
Why a biopic film on actor Sanjay Dutt’s life?
My equation with Sanjay Dutt is very normal and cordial. When I decided to make a film on his life events, Sanjay’s wife (Maanyata Dutt) questioned me as to why do I want to make a film on his life. When Sanjay was out of the jail on parole for few weeks, I met him frequently and got to know how he was treated in the jail. I had plenty of lengthy conversations till late night for around a month with him. He frankly spoke about his life events and admitted his mistakes too. As a filmmaker, I was able to imagine his life experiences as visuals for a film. I then called in my co-writer Abhijaat Joshi and then we began to write the script of the film. It is usually observed that biopics are made on great personalities who are achievers in their lives. But, making a biopic film on a person like Sanjay Dutt was challenging. As a director, I like to take up challenges and that’s how SANJU happened.
How did ranbir Kapoor come on board?
I chose Ranbir Kapoor on the basis of his physicality. I enjoy a good bonding with Aamir Khan and other actors too. But, Ranbir is from a film family and so is Sanju. So, I wanted someone who could catch the little layers of the character easily. The major chunk of the film is based in the 1980’s and Ranbir’s physical appearance is similar to that of Sanjay Dutt in the 1980’s. When I narrated the script to Ranbir, he was amazed he immediately agreed to do the film.
Tell us about the transformation of Ranbir Kapoor?
When Ranbir put on weight and we shot for Sanjay’s old age sequences and then when he t lost weight the sequences of young Sanjay Dutt were shot. So, the film was shot in a reversed way. Ranbir is tall and lean which helped a lot to get into the character. The look tests in prosthetics were carried on for around 3 months. Initially, he didn’t looked convincing enough as Sanjay Dutt and we used to reject the prosthetics repetitively. After a series of tests and experiments, we were happy with Ranbir’s looked like Sanjay Dutt.
How did Paresh Rawal and Manishaa Koirala come on board?
As far as Sunil Dutt is concerned he never sported a beard and he didn’t have white hair. We could not figure out ways to catch an actor who would fit for the role of Sunil Dutt. So, we decided to present the character of Sunil Dutt as a father figure and Paresh Rawal was apt for the same. As far as Manishaaji is concerned, Manishaa has physical resemblance to that of Nargis Duttji that’s how she fits the bill of playing Nargis Dutt.
How difficult was it to capture the life events of Sanjay Dutt in a film?
It is not possible to present and capture the entire life history of a personality in a biographical film. I had to selectively pick up few important and relevant life events of Sanjay Dutt. I chose drugs and guns as the major part of the film. Sanjay Dutt’s drug addiction is most talked about and he himself is aware of how damaging it was.
Every actor aspires to work with you, with whom would you want to work in future?
I would want to work with everyone. Actually, as a writer and a director, one cannot write a script keeping a particular actor in the mind. The script gets influenced by the particular actors strength and weakness. I would love to work with Hrithik Roshan, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan.
Any contemporary filmmaker whose work you like?
I think every director has their own process of making a film. Yes. I do feel inspired and not competitive when I see a great film. I feel like meeting that director and understanding his thought process. I was amazed with the work of Meghna Gulzar when I saw RAAZI. When I saw Imtiaz Ali’s JAB WE MET (2007), I called him up in the middle of the night to congratulate him. I also like Anurag Kashyap’s work.