Neighbourhood Entertainment Desk/ Simran Nijhawan: Sanju is the story of Sanjay Dutt, Bollywood superstar, acclaimed actor, convicted criminal, son of the screen legend Nargis and the much-respected actor-activist-politician Sunil Dutt. The film skips Dutt Jr’s childhood and takes us through his work on his debut film, his mother’s illness, his rocky relationship with his father, his alcoholism and drug addiction, the allegations of involvement in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, his arrest under the draconian and now lapsed TADA, the acquittal on terror charges and conviction under the Arms Act, his jailing and ultimate release.
Sonam Kapoor has not much to do in Sanju, but is still sweet as the girlfriend who gives up on Sanju Baba early on. Anushka Sharma as Baba’s biographer Winnie Diaz has a decidedly unchallenging role in which her charisma is wasted. Paresh Rawal has the film’s best-written role, but is only okay as Sunil Dutt. A terribly miscast Manisha Koirala is awkward as the barely-there Nargis. Kapoor’s turn as Sanju Baba rises far beyond his physical transformation though. He delivers an immersive performance, especially in scenes of emotional intensity when the script is not using a farcical tone to soft pedal the hero’s life choices. But even this gifted star cannot camouflage the reality of Sanju being little beyond a PR exercise for Sanjay Dutt (and Manyata Dutt).