Many a biopic have lapsed into hagiography, and for a brief moment it seems Sanju will fall into the same trap. However when Sanjay Dutt discovers his soon to be released biography farcically compares him to Mahatma Gandhi, he is determined to set the record straight. Bollywood’s bad boy details his drug addiction, mob connections and terrorism charges to another author and though the resultant story is far from a warts-and-all expose, it is surprisingly moving.
Flashing back to an uncertain youth making his film debut in Rocky, Sanjay’s reluctance to smoke soon gives way to the temptation of illicit drugs. With his life soon spiralling out of control he befriends Kamlesh, a fan who stands by the actor throughout his troubles. Yet even this allegiance is tested when Sanjay is arrested in connection with the 1993 Mumbai bombings. Remaining steadfast in his support is Sanjay’s father, Bollywood star Sunil Dutt.
Though much screen time is devoted to Sanjay’s interactions with the fictional Kamlesh, Ruby and biographer Winnie, it is his relationship with his parents that best serve the biopic’s narrative. Manisha Koirala resonates as famed Bollywood actress Nargis, while Paresh Rawal once again demonstrates his versatility as Sunil. The scenes between father and son are among the film’s best.
Ranbir Kapoor, himself a descendant of Bollywood royalty, impresses in the title role. Believably portraying the many phases of Sanjay’s life over the 35 years covered in this biopic, Kapoor also capably pivots between the film’s various genres. It is fitting that a movie centred on one of Bollywood’s first families encompasses so many of the ingredients found in the industry’s most popular films.
The character of Kamlesh is an amalgamation of three to four of Sanjay Dutt’s friends, most significantly Paresh Ghelani.
Author Winnie Dias is a fictional character.
There is no mention of Sanjay's his first two wives, and his girlfriend Ruby is a fictional character.
Biopic features brief scene recreations from Rocky and Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.