Sunday, February 24, 2019

Posted at: Jul 7, 2018, 12:23 AM; last updated: Jul 7, 2018, 12:23 AM (IST)GIRLS@GUPSHUP

Tailor-made for Baba

Tailor-made for Baba
Illustration: Sandeep Joshi

Aradhika Sharma

“What’s the point of a biopic if it can’t be objective about the subject of the film?” my sister demanded as she, mother and I were driving back after watching Sanju. “Ek toh the film is too long; secondly, it’s tediously sentimental. To top it all, it seemed like the sole purpose was to absolve Sanju Baba of the crime that he was convicted for by the Supreme Court.”

“You girls are always too critical! I liked the movie. Achchi- bhali thi,” mother humphed.

“If this film wasn’t masquerading as a biopic, but was telling the story of a person unfairly damned by society, then one could appreciate it in that perspective. But one expects an honest film from Raju Hirani. We’ve lived through the time of the telling, mother. We know exactly how it went.” I agreed with my sister. 

“Let’s face it, yaar. Sanjay Dutt was a spoilt, rich, celebrity kid who had things pretty easy. He decided to play Russian Roulette with his own life. But does his list of wrong choices merit a film of justification?” said sister, who didn’t seem in the mood of giving any quarter.

“He had a hard life. His parents were famous and busy and his mother died of cancer when he was very young. Everyone isn’t strong. Some are weak and can’t handle tough circumstances. You should learn to empathise,” mother moralised.

Sis was caustic: “Well, Hirani should have put the episodes of his life in real contexts, no? Yahan toh he’s hell-bent on trying to prove that Sanjay is actually the real-life version of Munnabhai, who, incidentally, is a figment of Hirani’s own imagination.”

“Kahin aisa toh nahin ki the director got carried away by his own creation — Pygmalion style?” I wondered.

“My issue is that the film tries to absolve Sanjay of all responsibility, trying to deceive the audience by making him the victim and not the creator of his own fate. It says that he became a drug addict because he was led astray by an unscrupulous drug dealer. He has been convicted by courts of law of possessing the deadly AK 56 rifles, but he’s still the innocent prey, while the media is the evil villain of the piece,” she said and rolled her eyes.

“There’s some hard media bashing happening in Sanju,” I agreed.

“Vaise,” mom observed (finally on the same page as us), “there isn’t even a mention of his first two wives and daughter and his sisters are mere shadows. On the other hand, his mother, Nargis, and wife, Manyata, are sakshaat Bharatiya naaris.”

“Sanjay himself has admitted that he was a compulsive womaniser, but the Sonam Kapoor episode has been handled so frivolously, it is embarrassing to watch,” I said.

“In a broader context, the distortion of narrative can change the history of nations,” mother said. “A believable story supported by fine direction, superlative actors and sophisticated production values can create a heady enough cocktail to make the wildest myth credible. Yeh toh sirf ek film hai.”

For the rest of the way home, we silently reflected on the universality of that statement.


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