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Sanjay Dutt’s biopic; Rajkumar Hirani’s biggest challenge so far?

On one of the many facebook film groups I follow, had an interesting debate on. How will Rajukumar Hirani deal with Sanjay Dutt’s biopic, “Sanju”. On the face of it, the film has everything going for it. Hirani, is amongst the very few directors who have mastered the art of bagging massive box office numbers and yet achieve critical acclaim.  A status many argue is elusive. Nevertheless, this is a completely new experiment for the 3 idiot’s director.  A dare of sorts. So far, his movies from Munna bhai MBBS up to PK have followed common themes. There is a protagonist who doesn’t understand the ways of this world. There are characters with specific dilemmas and we see their transformation which eventually leads to triumph of good over evil. Be it Munna Bhai winning over Asthana or PK convincing Jaggu’s father. It has comedy, it has little bit of insanity and we all come out happy from the cinemas.

However, a biopic perhaps doesn’t allow that liberty. It’s not a sport biopic either, where a global tournament win is the climax. Nor it is a struggle of a politician or a war hero, where achievement of an eventual goal is the obvious end. This is a film, on a person who is still very much part of our imagination and will continue to write new chapters in his life as the film is being worked on. A life which has seen tremendous highs and rock-bottoms. Some not too far from each other. Sanju Baba as he is called with love in Bollywood is perhaps a friend’s friend and on some instances his own worst enemy.

There is so much to work from. Obviously, relationships make large part of how public views an Indian celebrity or Coffee with Karan would not be such an attraction. The connection with underworld, the 1993 case, the jail term, addiction, bust ups with directors, the script writers will be have the best and the worst of time editing his life stories. However, there are many pitfalls. A story, especially for someone as relevant to Bollywood as Sanjay Dutt, cannot come with ruffling a few feathers. It is also been said in some circles, that Mahdurri Dixit doesn’t want anything to do with the film. There shall be other concerns as well.

However, among the recent Indian biopics (or stories loosely based on real people), Bose Dead or Alive (a web series), was pretty decent. Rajkumar Rao is as good as ever but the story talked more about the myth of Neeta jee instead of his actual life. Whereas, the likes of Azhar, Dhoni and even Mary Kom were linear and flat. A few will argue that Dhoni was better but it left out too many details of his life for me.

It would be really interesting to see, how much liberty has been afforded to the creative team to use so called controversial aspects of Dutt’s life. The expectations are sky high. The scope for scripting is huge, Ranbhir Kapoor is such a gifted actor and Hirani can work his own magic. But higher they aim, the greater they can fall. We have already seen such falls with the dream team of Shahrukh Khan and Imitiaz Ali.

Fans would hope, this film turns out to be different.

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