This has to be the zenith of “Hirani-esque”. Sanjay Dutt’s life has all the makings for the filmmaker’s formula of storytelling – A goofy anomaly of a guy puts sanity into us “normal” ones with heavily dramatised, colourful moments. I understand why he wanted to make this film. He gets another platform where he can fill dark spaces (he’s worked with hallucinations, student suicides, etc) with his own kind of light. But the problem here is that he’s dealing with the life of a real person. It might be even possible to buy into this victim-of-circumstances version, to at times feel for Sanju, but not without knowing that we are being manipulated. And that’s where Rajkumar Hirani fails as a filmmaker here. Not that he hasn’t done it before, but it was all behind the curtains, I never felt like he was playing certain music in my ears to extract an emotion out of me, at least on the first watch. This film is where that keeps happening.

The vivid comicbook-ish treatment to anecdotes from Sanjay Dutt’s life work at times like the initial druggie portions and during the run-ins with the underworld, but elements like the whimsical background score (again, Hirani-esque), the repetitive harking back to dialogues (Kamlesh’s English, terrorist-ka-baap vs Munnabhai-ka-baap) are big time dampeners. Ranbir Kapoor, without whom this film would have remained a rejected script, gives everything to sell Sanjay’s man-child image. But Hirani lets him down with his loud signatures. I am not writing off his style though, it has worked on a solid four out of four occasions prior to this one off-day.


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