I’m simply tired of getting fooled by Hirani. Every. Single. Time. Whether it was 3 Idiots, PK, or now, Sanju. I’d excuse PK a little bit because it had a spectacular first half. Even in the drab second half, the film was at-least novel. It had new ideas to present every time it turned into a yawn inducing moral education class.
What it didn’t have — something that, despicably, Sanju does — was Hirani swinging for the fences to emotionally manipulate using ideas so outdated that I’d rather watch a stupid dinosaur movie sequel instead*.
But then, city of stars…are you shining just for me? Who is a film-maker, after all, in 2018, who can’t deliver a cash-grab based on what has already worked. And, in this world’s box office opinion, what has already worked are probably the trite gujju snakes in a hole jokes. I mean come on, you guys, this isn’t funny. But people laugh. People laughed at a stoned Sanjay Dutt showing up late night at his girlfriend’s house for a bottle of alcohol. People laughed at a hammered Sanju Dutt at a funeral. It’s cringeworthy. Things that should be scary, should be scary. To me, they are. To others, it’s likely that it’s funny (it’s a blockbuster already.)
Maybe it’d be funny if I was 9, but it isn’t funny now. It reminds me of a bollywood blind item about another superstar showing up at his girlfriend’s house and banging her door and threatening to kill her if she doesn’t open the door. I mean that shit is scary. And when people laugh at it, the scary shit is normalized.
And aarrghhhayiyaiayaiya. “Watch me thou teary eyed squids, I’m thy dreary eyed dreamy superstar,” acts out loud, the Ranbir Kapoor, whilst he plays thine Dutt, the time Dutt plays a teary eyed dreamy Munnabhai.
I love Munnabhai. Those movies are funny, fresh, and whole heartedly entertaining. Made by a man brimming with imagination and ideas. Now, he is a guy who, oddly, is getting into the Naagin territory of emotional manipulation. As Naagin is probably looking at the B-Movies of the 70s and 80s, and absolutely biting the dust for ideas**, here’s Hirani trying to squeeze ideas — to sentimentalize every scene — out of a used up tube of toothpaste. I’m tired of getting these teary sauces thrown at my face. The entire first half of the movie is about one thing and one thing only, and we’re given the same information over and over and over again. And it’s not like Raju Hirani can’t do a good emotional scene. He does it in this movie itself when Ruby shows up at Sanju’s house after waiting for a long time at the registry office. And my god the way Sonam Kapoor shines in that scene…and my god Vicky Kaushal shines in the scene after. I think Kapoor and Kaushal each created a memorable scene in a movie that’s so forgettable, that I have to enter Naagin mode to look for comparable bright spots in this movie.
This is a world where a lot is wrong, and Sanju is its biggest victim. He’s the victim of the life he’s got. He’s the victim of calling a peddler a god. he’s the victim of the underworld friends he’s got. Maybe he is a victim of everything wrong, but what I want in that case is a good movie that’s not drowning the story in all the sentimentality it can get. Every single scene of this movie is built around one idea: take a controversial story in Sanju’s life, build an emotional scene around it so that people get carried away in the sentimentality so that the controversy is justified. That’s it. That’s the movie for you. On top of everything, this is the most hodgepodge emotional assault, with multiple emotional scenes back to back. I did get emotional to begin with until I realized this is not a Secret Superstar or October situation where its emotionality is visceral and organic. Sanju’s emotionality is effective in the way that’s not unlike the saas bahu shows our country is glued to. This is manipulation. Plain, simple, and pure manipulation, and I hate it. As soon as my brain realized that I’m being forced into its sympathy and emotionality, watching this movie turned into an uphill task. It got increasingly harder to watch Sanju conquer his demons one after another, and the scenes of the movie turned into a slideshow called life and times of Sanju Dutt with gifs of a man bursting into tears on demand. This is exactly what people on YouTube are doing. They take photos of people in trouble around the world, add dramatic music or songs to it, throw in deeply emotional quotes from someone, and BAM: you have a viral sensation.
If Raju Hirani was making a YouTube video, I’d let this movie pass. When I realized I paid 350 bucks to watch a propaganda WhatsApp forward, I was left disappointed. I don’t know about you guys (it’s a blockbuster already), but I left the theatre a little bit tired. So I reached home and slept.
*: Mind you, I didn’t like Fallen Kingdom, much, either.
**: This is based on what I read on the internet about the show. I don’t watch Naagin. I don’t. Trust me, I don’t.