The Common Man Speaks

30Jun/181

Sanju Review: Rajkumar Hirani’s weakest film, yet not a bad film

Sanju poster

Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju is said to be a biopic on veteran actor Sanjay Dutt. As is the case with Indian biopics, this one too is more like an effort to glorify someone. But even if you watch the film as a work of fiction, it only turns out to be a one-time watch, which is surely not what you expect from a Hirani movie.

It is clearly his weakest film till date, although it’s not a bad film.

Sanju is a fictionalized account of actor Sanjay Dutt’s life. The film concentrates on his early days with drugs, struggle to come out of the addiction and, most importantly, his involvement in the illegal arms case related to the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts.

It is a pipedream to make a real biopic in a country like India. To be fair to the film, Dutt’s dark period with drugs is shown unabashedly in the first half. His struggle to come out of it gives a strong anti-drug message without preaching. But apart from this aspect, the film largely concentrates on making the actor look like a truly innocent human being.

Even in the scene where he grossly misbehaves with someone after being high on drugs, the victim volunteers to take the blame on herself, which is weird to say the least.

Dutt’s involvement with illegal arms and his links with the underworld and the surrounding incidents are presented like jokes. For example, along with AK-56 rifles and bullets, hand grenades were also procured by the actor, as per official records. However, the film doesn’t show him possessing grenades because that would make him look too bad no?

Hence, the blame of his fate is put on the media. There’s no denying that Dutt has been a victim of unethical reporting. But to show that the biggest villain in his life has been the media while the actor just can’t do anything wrong is outrageous, even by Indian biopics’ standards. If this wasn’t enough, there is also a song on media’s malpractices.

Sanju poster

So, the only way to enjoy this film is to watch it as a work of fiction (which is exceedingly difficult, mind you). Like Hirani’s brand of cinema, Sanju has a fast moving screenplay and appealing dialogues, which ensures that one is glued throughout the duration of 161 minutes.

But this surely isn’t enough to ensure that you leave the hall satisfied for two reasons. Firstly, the second half suffers from lack of proper conflict and flow. This ensures a half-baked climax, which comes as a rude surprise for a Hirani movie. Adding fiction in the all-important moment when Dutt is released makes it worse.

Secondly, the character of the author is shown to be too dumb. She believes everything she hears without giving it a second thought, leave alone cross checking. By the way, there’s another character who doesn’t notice a question mark in the headline of an article he has been carrying with him since more than a decade.

The acting arena is the biggest plus point of Sanju. Ranbir Kapoor has given the performance of his lifetime. His task was cut out as he couldn’t have afforded to just mimic Dutt. The actor succeeds in living different facets of Dutt’s life brilliantly.

Paresh Rawal too comes up with one of the best performances of his life. You feel for him every time he comes up on screen. The biggest surprise is Vicky Kaushal who is phenomenal as Dutt's best friend Kailash. This act will become the turning point of his career.

Manisha Koirala doesn’t have a lengthy role but she manages to leave behind a solid impact. Anushka Sharma too has shown her talent but her aforementioned characterization doesn’t help her cause. Dia Mirza and Jim Sarbh are above average while the actress playing Dutt’s sister, Priya Dutt doesn’t get to do anything except smiling continuously.

Overall: Sanju is an entertaining saga with great performances. But it is more like an image cleaning PR exercise than a biopic. The film has opened to excellent numbers at the box office but it won’t be a huge success.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Rajkumar Hirani

Producers: Rajkumar Hirani Films and Vinod Chopra Films

Writers: Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Vicky Kaushal, Anushka Sharma, Dia Mirza

Music: A R Rahman, Rohan Rohan and Vikram Montrose

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 161 minutes

16Jun/183

The incest angle in Race 3 (SPOILERS Alert!)

Race 3 poster

Director Remo D’Souza’s Race 3 is trending since its release yesterday, although not for the good reasons. The film is bashed left, right and centre by audience and critics alike. But while a lot has been said about the content or the lack of it, many of us seem to have missed a subtle incest angle in the film.

SPOILERS Ahead

Yes, you read it right. This is how it is. We are shown from the start that Bobby Deol’s character Yash works for Shamsher (Anil Kapoor). He is so loyal that he is as good as a family member. Shamsher is father to Sanjana (Daisy Shah), Suraj (Saqib Saleem) and Sikander (Salman Khan), who is his step-son.

Race 3 is full of twists, although not convincing. Deol is shown to be the love interest of Jessica (Jacqueline Fernandez). But later we are told that he actually shares a romantic relationship with Daisy’s character.

Race 3 poster

Now, here is where the fun begins. Just before the climax it is revealed that Deol is actually Kapoor’s son. So, this makes Deol and Daisy siblings!

A clean action entertainer that has the word ‘family’ included in the dialogues every now and then dared to show something as bold (not overtly though) as incest.

It might also be that the film has so many unnecessary twists that the writers or the director themselves didn’t realize this. And like a large majority of the audience, our sanskari CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification), popularly known as the Censor Board, missed it too.

In this way, Race 3 becomes the second film of 2018 to explore the incest angle after Arjun Mukherjee’s 3 Storeys.

By: Keyur Seta

10Jun/180

Kaala: Rajinikanth makes his dislike for Hindutva politics loud and clear

Rajinikanth

Superstar Rajinikanth announced his entry into politics on 31 December 2017 but has so far kept mum about which side he belongs to. There is no name for his party yet, so similarly there is no party flag or colour either. But through his latest release Kaala, he has made his dislike for Right Wing and Hindutva politics loud and clear, which proves that his party’s colour is surely not Saffron. So much so that it is not mere a subtext.

SPOILERS ALERT

The Pa Ranjith directorial makes no qualms throughout the film about its severe dislike for the Saffron brigade and portraying them as villains. So, we have Nana Patekar as Hari Prasad who is the head honcho of a Saffron-clad party, thereby hinting towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He wants to build towers in Dharavi and doesn’t care a damn about its residents.

He is so self-obsessed that he makes sure his face appears everywhere and anywhere in Mumbai. He keeps making references from epics like Ramayana. He promotes initiatives like ‘Pure Mumbai’ and ‘Digital Dharavi.’ Now, you don’t need to be even close to a political expert to know whom they are indicating at.

Rajinikanth

Rajinikanth in Kaala

The builders who are hell bent in redeveloping Dharavi for their own good are called Manu Realty. Another clear criticism of the most hated ancient text, Manusmriti. A shop in Dharavi is seen selling beef, which is something the Right Wing considers blasphemous.

‘Epic’ comparison

Kaala even goes to the extent of reversing the Ramayana, called the Hindu epic. Patekar is shown as Ram, who has nicknamed Rajinikanth as Raavan. Evil elements committing atrocities against the downtrodden is, over here, Ram teaching a lesson to Raavan. Rajini’s men coming up one after the other in a fight scene are described as different heads of Raavan. And, of course, Dharavi is a symbol for Lanka.

But that’s not all as far as Hindu Gods are concerned. The evil doer is called Hari and his subordinate Vishnu. Ideally, it should be the other way round since Krishna was Vishnu’s avatar. But Kaala is a reverse journey, so that’s purely intentional. It’s Kalyug, so the avatar is more powerful than the creator and Ram is not noble.

Dalit angle

Rajini’s character is shown to be as a messiah of Dalits (I hate labeling anyone on the basis of their caste but it’s needed here for understanding). Gautam Buddha’s temple and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s picture are shown around him quite a few times and his locality is called Bhim Nagar.

Nana Patekar in Kaala

Nana Patekar in Kaala

In fact, during a confrontational scene with Hari Prasad, Kaala declares, ‘I am ready to fight even ‘your’ God.’ This line subtly indicates the renouncement of Hinduism and embracing of Buddism by Dalits.

There is an article where Rajini’s die-hard fans are urging people to take Kaala as just another fictional film. But it surely won’t make any sense if Rajinikanth wholeheartedly bashes Saffron politics in a movie and supports the same in real life. As we all know, onscreen image of superstars is taken so seriously in India.

Maybe Kaala is more like a push for Rajini’s political career and his own way of revealing his political side.

P.S: Earlier in the year, Kamaal Hassan had said that it is unlikely that he would align with Rajinikanth if his political colour is Saffron. So are we in for something big?

By: Keyur Seta

3Jun/180

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero: A film that forced me to go down memory lane

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero

How I found director Vikramaditya Motwane’s Bhavesh Joshi Superhero is not the aim of this article (still if you are too curious, you can scroll down for the snippet review). More importantly, the Harshvardhan Kapoor starrer created a deep, personal connect with me, which rarely happens.

The base of the film’s story is social activist Anna Hazare’s India Against Corruption (IAC) movement of 2011 for the passing of Jan Lokpal Bill. It compels the characters of Kapoor and Priyanshu Painyuli, his best friend, to start their own movement against injustice through the medium of a YouTube channel called Insaaf TV.

They go around stopping people against wrongdoings like urinating in public, not following traffic rules, etc. The issues might sound petty but they mean a lot to them. It was their selfless contribution towards, what was then considered, India’s biggest fight against corruption or any kind of wrongdoings.

The movement is one of the biggest events in my life. Never even in the wildest of my dreams did I ever imagine lakhs of ordinary people selflessly taking on the streets waving Indian flags while demanding change (not chhutta or khulla paisa, please), which would also include me. The long march in heavy rains from Bandra station to Juhu circle still feels like last week.

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero

I remember few people whom I had acquainted then confidently predicting that the country is in for a major change now and this is in a way the second Independence movement. I thought this is far-fetched but still felt like agreeing with them. After all, the scenes looked like flashback portions from India’s freedom struggle.

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero also touches upon the diminishing impact of the movement during the second phase in December 2011. Just like the two characters, I and many others were standing disappointed, wondering how it all fizzled out so soon.

The film characters continued their fight, which saw dangerous percussions including death. This doesn’t deter Kapoor’s character. In fact, the death of his friend makes him a superhero of a kind who unmasks the corrupt while wearing a mask. Without giving away the climax, I would just add that the hero’s fight wasn’t like any other Hindi film where he would win against all odds.

This is where my path diverted from the film’s characters’. I didn’t venture out to be a superhero against such powerful villains because I am not a film character. I am a ‘normal’ human being who doesn’t fake being fearless of being hunted down and probably killed.

Anna Hazare movement

During the long march from Bandra station to Juhu circle.

In other words, my contribution towards the fight against corruption, if it can be called one, ended with the fizzling out of the Jan Lokpal Movement.

However, the movement did help me personally as I started taking a keen interest in the political atmosphere of the country. It increased my knowledge on politics, although I don’t have much right now. Before 2011, I didn’t even know the meaning of an MP and MLA.

It was also because this movement that I started writing on the current socio-political issues on my blog, which was earlier almost limited to just film related stuff.

In between I also heard from a lot of learned people that it is important to better yourself before you think of bettering the world. Samaaj ko behtar banane chale hain, pehle khud ko toh behtar banao. These words had a profound impact on me and I started making efforts in being a better version of myself, although I am not sure if I have succeeded.

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero doesn’t leave you in a hopeless state. It shows that there is still hope. Even though little but hope nevertheless. This is exactly what I would like to believe too…

(I never believe in writing so much about myself. But this movie just forced me to. Still I am not sure if this was relevant to you.)

About the film:

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero is a decent film that could have been better if the flaws in the second half were taken care of. It is still an important film that makes you think in addition to providing some thrills.

By: Keyur Seta