Sanju – One man, many lives (Movie Preview)

A large crowd swarmed at the premiere of Sunil Dutt’s directorial venture – Rocky. A nervous debutante, soaked in tears at the recent demise of his mother was making his entry in Hindi cinema. He was the newbie ‘Sanjay Dutt’ but his mother, the late legendary actress Nargisji fondly called him ‘Sanju’. Call it a tragic blow of irony or misfortune, Nargisji passed away due to pancreatic cancer on 3rd May 1981. She couldn’t survive to see the debut of her pampered lad Sanju. A seat was kept vacant at the premiere theatre in memory of Nargisji. At the time of his mother’s deteriorating condition, Sanjay was severely under the influence of drugs.

Sanjay Dutt was paired opposite Tina Munim in his debut movie. Along with Sanjay Dutt, there was another fresh debutante who made his entry in Rocky. The other debutante actor was Gulshan Grover. Sanjay Dutt and Gulshan Grover not only shined as successful actors but also became close buddies. Rocky was a smash hit at box-office and Sanjay Dutt made his presence felt with his debut action movie. Though Sanjay Dutt’s dream of becoming Bollywood star was fulfilled, he was too unfortunate that his mother was not there to applause at his debut performance. He underwent rehabilitation to overcome drugs and focus his mind and heart towards his Bollywood career which would later be marked with success, dejecting failures gossips and controversies in coming years.

Several decades later now his journey of stardom is ready as biopic titled ‘Sanju’ starring Ranbir Kapoor in the titular role as the bad boy of Bollywood.

I was a movie buff right from my childhood. I took fancy gazing at the giant sized posters of movies at cinema halls. At one instance, I glimpsed around a large poster of movie – Kabzaa at a suburban single screen. It was a Mahesh Bhatt movie. I was amazed at the persona of the rebel star. Years later I was to become one of his fans after watching the 90’s gangster flick – Kroadh. His hair style, action-image and grey-shaded persona made him an icon in the league of Arnold, Sylvester and Bruce Willis. He was nicknamed ‘Baba’ by his fans.

Among all the movies, the late 80’s movie Hathyar captured my attention. It was a J.P. Dutta movie. Dutt played role of henchmen who is hired by a gangster played by Dharmendra. In the climax, Sanju is gunned down by the police. ‘Hathyar’ movie was my foray in watching gangster flicks. The influence of his movies was so strong on me that I used to pick up fights and thrash down my classmates. I wanted to show that I was no less than a rebel like my role models – Sanju Baba and Sunny Deol. Real life is harsher than the movie life. I later realized that world is a lot crueler than I had imagined. Words are sharper than swords. I switched my loyalties to new stars – Shahrukh Khan’s DDL image. A heartthrob of millions. Now I was Raj for my sweet hearts. Sanju Baba’s persona and fascination was left behind.

80’s was the changing era for Bollywood movies. Fresh talents like Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol and Jackie Shroff were making their entry in movie world. The era of yesteryear actors like Rajendra Kumar, Manoj Kumar and Rajesh Khanna was passé. The movie audience wanted to see angry young men rebelling against system. Movies like Arjun, Meri Jung, and Hero were attracting crowd at the box-office. In this period Sanjay Dutt was passing through a weak phase. A series of flops had weakened his determination. It was Mahesh Bhatt’s movie ‘Naam’ which resurrected the career of Sanjay. ‘Naam’ was produced by Rajendra Kumar to boost the fading career of Kumar Gaurav. Ironically the lady luck worked for Dutt. After Naam, there was no looking back. His movies – Saajan, Sadak and Thanedaar were hits back to back. Sanju Baba was in spotlight again.

A rare pic of Sanjay Dutt during his younger days

The road of stardom was not smooth for Jr.Dutt. During his journey to stardom, he lost his loved ones on personal front. His wife Richa Sharma died due to Cancer leaving behind their small child Trishala. After his mother’s death due to cancer, this personal loss was too depressing for Sanjay Dutt. Juggling between his unstable personal life and a busy stardom, Sanjay’s popularity came to a halt. His infamous involvement with weapons splashed all across news media. He was labeled as ‘Villain’ in real life. His arrest brought him in limelight. At this same time, his movie ‘Khalnayak’ was ready for release. Due to infamous spotlight, Khalnayak movie’s release was getting difficult. On the contrary, the movie not only got released, but was declared a hit. He went under a rigorous period during this time. Getting bail for such offence was near to impossible. Sanjay’s career was almost over. Critics wrote him off. No filmmaker was ready to sign him. At this phase, his daddy Sunil Dutt stood like a pillar of strength, doing the rounds to get his son released. It was the same disciplined father with whom once Sanjay was upset and had taken refuge in drugs. At this phase, his close friend actor Kumar Gaurav was also morally supporting him. After securing temporary bail, he completed all the pending movies that were left incomplete. His second inning started with ‘Vaastav’, a gangster flick directed by Mahesh Manjrekar. Vaastav was not only successful, but it also fetched him a filmfare award for best actor. Many movie lovers copied his style of wearing white kurta and long gold chain from movie ‘Vaastav’. Sanjay Dutt’s attire became a style statement for his fans.

In later years, he again completed the remaining jail sentence. The jail conditions were unfit for a human to survive. The unhygienic premises, dark cells were enough for a weak minded person to commit suicide. Only a strong willed man like Sanjay could endure these hard conditions. This phase was his redemption period. Simultaneously somewhere around the world even I came to senses that I was neither the bad boy Sanju nor the lover boy Raj from DDLJ. I realized that I was a common man and even stars are ordinary people with flaws if you remove the star tag from their personality.

After his release from jail on 25th Feb 2016, Sanju Baba made his strong comeback with movie ‘Bhoomi’ in 2017. Though this comeback movie wasn’t so powerful, Sanju Baba has lots of interesting movies lined up in 2018. The most interesting of all is his biopic – Sanju scheduled to release in June 2018. The role of Sanjay Dutt is played by current heartthrob, the multi-talented Ranbir Kapoor. The way Ranbir has prepped up for this biopic; he is sure to fetch awards for this role in 2019. Actor Paresh Rawal is portraying Sunil Dutt while Manisha Koirala is playing role of his mother Nargis Dutt. Sonam Kapoor is playing one of the girlfriends which closely resembles to Tina Munim. Vicky Kaushal is playing role as one of his close buddies. Anushka Sharma is making a special appearance as a biographer.

It is the powerful direction of director Rajkumar Hirani which has made ‘Sanju’ as the most anticipated biopic of 2018. His stardom journey that started with Rocky was rock solid with movies like Munnabhai MBBS, Mission Kashmir, Parineeta and Kaante. Despite the criticism, failure, personal losses and his flaws, Sanju Baba is stable and here to stay. I am now proud to mouth the lines from his movie Vaastav – ‘Pachaas Tola’!!


One Comment Add yours

  1. ZOEB says:

    It is heartening to read such an affectionate and wistful tribute to one of the most iconoclast and controversial leading men of Bollywood. I can relate fully to your admiration for his raw and gritty macho anti heroes in Mahesh Bhatt’s action dramas of the 1980s and how the naturally charismatic Dutt overcame personal demons to do stellar work in later films as well.
    It is of little doubt that Ranbir Kapoor is perfect for playing such a controversial and troubled hero.

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