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Added scenes to create empathy for Sanju: Raj Kumar Hirani

“I had to shoot additional portions for Sanju to create empathy for Sanju” revealed film Raj Kumar Hirani. While talking to writer Anjum Rajabali at Indian Film and TV Directors Association’s (IFTDA) special masterclass, he opened up how people “hated” the character he had created during test screening. The initial edit was rejected by people so we added scenes.

“During the shoot I felt ‘What am I doing, I’m going wrong.’ In fact, when the first edit was ready and we screened for people, they hated him. They said we don’t like this man, we don’t want to watch him. Because I wanted to do a true story, I didn’t create any empathy towards him. I said let’s not create empathy and show (him) as he is. But later I understood that he is our hero, we need some empathy for him. The scene where he tries to kill himself after the verdict is out; which he had mentioned to me but we didn’t put in the film, I shot it later. It was not in the original script. I thought through this some empathy will come… The initial test reactions were like ‘naah we don’t like this guy…’ Every film is a journey. Some things work and some don’t. I still see flaws in the film but you try your best and hope your best is good enough” the director added.


He also stated that life of Sanjay Dutt was so vast, it was impossible to show everything and different people would pick up different elements from his life.

“Everyone view the story through their own perspective. Someone would’ve made Sanju only on the chapter of how he acquired the gun, destroyed it, and then the case. It could have been a film of its own. But I thought everyone knew this. The father-son equation interested me more. I was blown away by ‘Black Friday’. If Anurag would have heard the story, he may have been attracted to the gun angle and would have made that story. He would have made a great film with that.”

The film maker is aware of how some people had seen Sanju as an attempt to whitewash Sanjay Dutt’s image but he whole heartedly disagrees.

“He goes and sleeps with his best friend’s girlfriend but there isn’t any reason. Their friendship was almost jeopardised… The other scene where he puts the commode seat on a girl he wants to marry, I am not defending that! It’s a terrible action. My perception of Sanju was that he has done so many weird things but he is not a bad man… I felt he had an innocence, he is naughty but he doesn’t harm anyone. He didn’t pick up the gun, scared people or fired a shot. He made a mistake. We made a commentary about certain section of the media and the term ‘whitewashed’ came into play. Everywhere I go people say I have whitewashed him but I haven’t. A journalist asked me, why did you whitewash Sanju and I asked what was Sanju’s crime? I am not defending the man but myself and the film. He kept a gun, destroyed it too, lied to his father and was arrested. I showed it all, his drug phase and the way he treated people. So where have I whitewashed?”, Hirani asked.

While, there have been questions about whitewashing of Sanjay’s life the general public has given a roaring approval of the film. In the end, perhaps this is what matters most.

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