Rajkumar Hirani’s last directorial, Sanju, made on the life of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, was a hit at the Box Office. However, it faced its share of criticism for whitewashing Dutt and showing the media in a bad light. The filmmaker was accused of not showing the actor’s life in its entirety and Sanju was seen as an attempt to hide Dutt’s controversial side.
The film featured Ranbir Kapoor and the major part of the story was focused on showing the actor’s fight with drug abuse and his relationship with his father, Sunil Dutt, played by Paresh Rawal.
After three months of its release, Hirani has now come out to speak about all the criticism that Sanju received. While talking to PTI and IANS, he made the following statements at the Indian Film and TV Directors Association’s (IFTDA) special masterclass event.
Ranbir Kapoor in a still from Sanju
On being Dutt’s ‘Best Friend’
“The film has nothing to do with my relationship with Sanjay (Dutt). I could have made some other film may be PK part two or another part of 3 Idiots but I got carried away by hearing his story. I don’t think I am his best friend, I made the film because of his story.”
On his perception of Sanjay Dutt:
“My perception of Sanjay was that, though most of his actions are wrong, like sleeping with a friend’s girlfriend, keeping the gun, doing drugs etc. But he is not a villain, he is not a bad man from his heart.”
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images
On showing a biased version of Dutt’s story:
“A filmmaker makes a film from his interpretation of a story. In Sanjay’s story, how he got the firearms, what he did with that when police arrested him — could be the story of a whole film. In fact, I think if Anurag Kashyap made Sanjay’s story, he would have made the film based on that chapter. If someone wants to sensationalise (the story), (they) would make a story about his girlfriends. But I was interested in what was happening between him and his father. I was interested in a father-son relationship”.
On why he made a biopic on a person who’s still alive:
“When someone asked me that why I made a film on Sanjay since he is alive, I said that at least, I heard from him, so it is authentic. After his death, different people will tell their perception of Sanjay.”
Rajkumar Hirani and Sanjay Dutt during the shooting of PK
On whitewashing Sanjay Dutt’s image:
“During the shoot, I felt ‘What am I doing, I’m going wrong.’ In fact, when the first edit was ready and we screened for people, they hated him. They said we don’t like this man, we don’t want to watch him”. “Because I wanted to do a true story, I didn’t create any empathy towards him. I said let’s not create empathy and show (him) as he is. But later I understood that he is our hero, we need some empathy for him.”
On introducing changes to the film to draw empathy:
“The scene where he tries to kill himself after the verdict is out; which he had mentioned to me but we didn’t put in the film, I shot it later. It was not in the original script. I thought through this some empathy will come… The initial test reactions were like ‘naah we don’t like this guy…’ Every film is a journey. Some things work and some don’t. I still see flaws in the film but you try your best and hope your best is good enough.”