Rajkumar Hirani is gearing up for the release of one 2018’s most-anticipated films, the Dutt biopic, titled Sanju. As the film inches closer to its release, the excitement around it is steadily increasing, mainly because Sanjay Dutt has been the epitome of a ‘troubled star’.
In an interview with DNA, Hirani says that the anecdotes that Dutt had told him during an impromptu meeting stayed with him for a long time. He says that Sanjay’s life, which has been full of ups and terrifying lows, is like a “goldmine” for any filmmaker.
After several meetings with Sanjay, Hirani decided that he was going to string the pieces of his life together — the death of his mother, rehab stint and his conviction in the 1993 bomb blasts case — and make a feature film. He maintains that he told Sanjay that he wouldn’t glorify him in the film and the actor was okay with it.
Although Hirani now confirms that Sanju is the title the makers are going with — there’s also a story to it. He tells the publication that the makers wanted to go with a neutral title. When they found out that Nargis (Sanjay’s mother) used to lovingly call him, ‘Sanju’, they went for it. “One of the titles was Aisa Hi Hoon. Anything you attach with a name in a biopic is like an adjective. Even if you say Aisa Hi Hoon or Sarphira, either you are glorifying him or attacking him. One thing all of us were clear about was that we wanted a neutral title. Dutt seemed a little harsh,” explains Hirani.
Although the film set was fiercely guarded, when Ranbir Kapoor’s photos from the sets of the film leaked online, everyone was taken aback. The young actor has no connections with Dutt, but he looked uncannily similar to the senior actor. Hirani says that although Ranbir was an unusual choice for the role, he was cast for his exceptional acting ability. Moreover, the film needed an actor who could seamlessly gel with the transformations in Sanjay’s life and for the makers, Ranbir fit the bill.
What’s also spectacular about Hirani’s journey is that most of his films have been blockbusters. His Munnabhai franchise cemented his foothold in the industry as a filmmaker who could churn out content-driven cinema while still being highly entertaining. However, for the filmmaker, just finishing the film and seeing it release was a high. He says he doesn’t take the title of ‘best writer’ seriously, an honour that has been associated with him informally for the longest time now. He works with his trusted writer Abhijat, who along with Boman Irani, attends his distress calls before every release. Although he is one of the most gifted filmmakers of his time, he claims he is a nervous mess before any release and people like Boman and Abhijat keep him sane during these times.
The filmmaker concludes by praising Sanjay for his courage and the will to talk about his life openly. He tells the publication that Sanjay has seen the teaser and was overwhelmed by it. He plans to watch the film only when it’s complete.
Sanju releases on 29 June, 2018.