Sanjay Dutt aka Sanju (Ranbir Kapoor) has one month to go back to jail in the case of 1993 Mumbai bomb attacks and he has lost all the hopes of coming out this time. Therefore, he wants to tell his side of the story through his biography but no one wants to write for him because he is an alleged terrorist. Then he meets a celebrated author Winnie Diaz (Anushka Sharma) who first denies, but after listening to the initial side of Sanju, she accepts the offer and pens down how Sanju becomes a drug addict, how he outwears relationships and his career, how connections with underworld lead him to jail, and despite all odds how his father Sunil Dutt (Paresh Rawal) pulls him out of the scum every time.
Sanju starts with some tiring notes and the first 10-15 minutes of the first half of the film become cumbersome. However, it picks up the pace when Raju Hirani drives you off into the world of drugs and you see Sanju gradually slips into it. Zubin Mistry aka God (Jim Sarbh) pulls him in the murky corner of drugs, obviously to get financial mileage. But they say na, if you have a degrader in life, a savior also falls into your path and Sanju casually collides with Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi (Vicky Kaushal) aka Kamali who not only stands aside with him during all his struggles but also be the boat through that Sanju sails though most of his disaster phases.
The entire first half is dedicated to the friendship between these two birds and Sanju’s quest to cope up with various relationships that he spoils under the dire influence of drugs. Besides, the initial hiccups, the film turns out to be a roller-coaster ride of varied emotions, thrill and a struggle Sanju faces in the world as well as within. The whole drama delights you and you inadvertently become his companion in his struggle.
However, you do not feel emotionally connected with the same character right after the interval because the makers have tried exceptionally hard to cash in on those emotions to stamp that he is not a terrorist and the audience finds it difficult to digest due to the excuses given in the narration. Moreover, the brutality shown by Hirani in tapping on the drug-addicted side of Sanju is missing when it comes to portraying him as an innocent fellow who mistakenly fell into the trap. Many facts have been wrapped to prove their UNDIGESTABLE point.
The latter half seems nothing but a glorification of Sanjay Dutt who has been projected in the film as a victim of the press and media throughout is life. Hirani also pins on the judgmental authority everybody walks with carrying in his pocket which ultimately destroys the image of an innocent but he forgets that there is no smoke without the fire.
Undoubtedly, Ranbir steals the show. He brilliantly slips into the shoes of Sanjay Dutt and explicates love-laughter, painful-playful moments, and his struggle to cope up with relationships, drugs, underworld, threats, trials, prisons, and what not. Besides him, Vicky Kausal as Kamali simply seems to be the next hero of the film. You can’t imagine Sanju without him. Kamali delights you with sheer presence and keeps going on bringing a smile on your face as well as making the eyes wet. I believe that he should be given equal credit to make this film an emotional as well as a fun ride.
This time, Rajkumar Hirani picks Sanjay Dutt and his life, which is full of ‘MASALA’, as his 5th celluloid attempt and looks like he is hell-bent to prove to the world that Sanjay who may be a druggist, womanizer, criminal but not a terrorist. This ‘Bhagirathi’ effort of Hirani could have been strongly reflected on the silver screen if he had not manipulated many facts and told the second half of the film with the same honesty shown in the first half. For instance, Hirani superficially pointed out his connections with the underworld and blamed them for dragging him forcefully into their web by threatening him about the lives of his dear ones; however, the truth is quite opposite.
You can’t actually swallow a scene when Sanju says he went to police for protection, but they denied. Do you think a renowned Bollywood family whose head has been an MP for years won’t get police security while any TOM, DICK, and Harry who have even the smallest connection with politicians can easily get it? There are many instances in the film where your heart wants to believe but your mind does not allow and the film ends leaving you in this pathetic dilemma. Hirani also lays the blame on media for putting his 'SUTRON' (sources) behind him every time and making mountains out of a mole every time. This, according to him, made a big dent to Sanjay Dutt's image.
Watch It or Not?
Undoubtedly, masses will turn up for Sanju as Hirani has already tapped their nerves right by floating a stimulating teaser and a highly appealing Sanju Trailer, but the film would seem nothing other than a well-planned PR of Sanjay Dutt. But yes, watch it for Ranbir Kapoor's best attempt ever and of course, Kamali (Vicky Kaushal).