In Bollywood’s crucible, biopic themes have been tested sporadically. From super athlete Milkha Singh to the serenading diva Silk Smitha and boxing legend Mary Kom, story tellers with passion had the temerity to challenge the tested stereotypes and experiment in the lab of innovation. But, Sanju, the latest biopic from this lesser used Bollywood lab has set a new paradigm for film makers and actors. That a biopic centred flick can spawn the hysteria and collections comparable to a Salman Khan starrer is no more an anathema. And, this is vindicated by Sanju’s runaway success at the box office.
A biopic’s success rests on nuanced storytelling and its subtle treatment by the director. Rarely does it happen that an actor essaying the role mesmerises the consuming audience and goes on to eclipse the real or reel life character he embodies on celluloid. This is precisely where the macho hero Ranbir Kapoor pulls it off. In his effortless portrayal of Sanju, chronicling the life of actor Sanjay Dutt, the Bollywood lovers see in Ranbir a consummate actor depicting a range of histrionics few could match up to.
Many believe the career of a Bollywood actor is a lop sided see saw. Both the plaudits and brickbats are intertwined. The blazing spark of a series of massive hits can be flickered by a clanging flop. Box office has been such a fickle judge! Ranbir’s case is no different. The scion of the legendary Kapoor family after floundering with some vapid scripts seems to have regained his mojo with his epic performance in ‘Sanju’. Ranbir dives into the skin of a knotty character of the ‘real’ Sanjay Dutt- his tormented life suffused with bereavement after his mother succumbed to cancer. What ensued was a perverted craving for drugs assuming the magnitude of a lasting addiction. And, then the alleged liaisons with terror perpetrators culminating in the actor’s trial under the non-bailable TADA. A plethora of emotions needed a class act to do justice to and Ranbir is no let down.
Ranbir through the whole movie looks to be in firm control of the character he essays and carries the plot successfully on his shoulders. He has donned the yesteryear actor’s mantle perfectly. So much so that there is little to tell apart the ‘real’ Sanjay Dutt from his ‘reel’ incarnate in Sanju.
Rave reviews have come pouring in for Ranbir’s performance from the most acerbic critics. Sanju is veritably a comeback film for a Ranbir- a second innings from where he can regain his once sublime odyssey in the Hindi film industry. The actor who conquered our mindscape with ‘Rockstar’, ‘Saanwariya’ and the off beat ‘Barfi’ deserves better treatment. Playing a controversy ridden actor has proved to be a talisman for Ranbir. His high octane performance has led Sanju to an astounding box office block buster. The bigger gain is in the discovery of his ‘inner compass’ in acting. With an astonishing portrayal, Ranbir has transcended the limits in Bollywood acting. Director Raj Kumar Hirani’s adroit handling of the script and sequencing is unmistakable. More, his touch rekindles the ‘star-actor’ image of Ranbir in Bollywood where crass stardom is the staple craving. The ‘Rockstar’ rocks again!