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Rajkumar Hirani speaks his heart out over filming the life of Dutt

Comments  Comments [ 0 ]    By Ami Sheth | 24 April 2018 | 11:13am

Rajkumar Hirani's DuttBiopic is one the most anticipated films of the year. Ranbir Kapoor who portrays the role of Sanjay Dutt in the film is said to have lived his 56 years of the superstar's journey during the entire shoot. The actor has not only shot the film of his younger age of 21 from where Sanjay started his career with Rocky but, also his drug phase to payroll till 56 years old. In an interview with a leading daily, filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani speaks his heart out while talking about Sanjay Dutt's life journey, He assures that the film is not glorifying the actor but is shown as it is, as he has been till now.  

In an interview with DNA, the director was asked if he excited as the film is highly anticipated. On this, he said, "Quite honestly, expectations are always there at this stage. I'm happy and excited, but nervous, too. Also, it is hard for me to be objective about my own work. You live with the movie for so long. You write it, then shoot it and edit it. There are so many internal and external processes involved."

On what prompted him to make a film on Sanjay Dutt's life, he said, "I must tell you how I got attracted to it. I was writing Munnabhai. However, much earlier when I was penning PK, Sanjay was out on parole and I happened to meet him. He just started talking about his life. He was lonely. Maanayata (I think) was in the hospital and he used to go there (sometimes) and then come home to an empty house. So, he was just venting, speaking straight from the heart. And, he started giving me anecdotes that were just gems for a filmmaker... ki aisi film toh hum soch hi nahin sakte, likh hi nahin sakte... Even though I had worked with him, I wasn't close friends with him, like, say, other filmmakers such as Sanjay Gupta, Mahesh Manjrekar and others were. I knew Sanju, but there was always a distance. He had never opened up like he did on that occasion. I had gone at 5 pm, stayed with him till 3 am and then came back home."

He continued, "The next day when I was editing, he called me and asked me to come over. I think he wanted to talk. After that, I called Abhijat (writer Abhijat Joshi) and told him I'm hearing these crazy anecdotes, which even if I want to write, I don't know how to go about it. The following day, I took Abhijat along. For over 25 days, we sat for a crazy amount of time and recorded everything. We didn't know if there was a film because most of the things he recounted were anecdotal. I had no idea how to string them together. But what we did feel was that there was a man who had led such a crazy life in every way. He was coping with the loss of his mother, he had been to rehab for drug addiction, then he went to jail (sighs). Besides what he told me, I also met others who knew him journalists, cops, relatives and friends. I felt there was a movie that should be told. The first thought that came to me as we will say it like it is. I told Sanju that we won't glorify him and he was okay with it. He was like, jo bhi hai, banao... He had talked about drugs, women, the gun, almost everything that happened. For a filmmaker, it's like a goldmine."

The film has been titled Sanju. How did he zero down to choose this title? "Actually, we thought of many titles. One of them 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. Then I heard a gem from him. Apparently, Nargisji used to call him 'Sanju' with a lot of affection. We thought this is the most non-committal and neutral title, with no preconceived notions," explained Rajkumar.

When asked about the business aspect, he said, "Abhijat and I work together as a team. Please don't put pressure on me by saying things like that. Anyway, in this case, we didn't have to write. For the last 50 years, Sanjay has been writing his life. It's said that bad choices make good stories. And this is a classic case of that."

Is he nervous as the teaser will be out today? On this, he said, "I have a terrible reputation for being nervous. If you ask Abhijat and Boman Irani, I'm a nervous wreck before every film. I recall after seven days of 3 Idiots' release, I asked Boman if people were liking the film or were it just Aamir's presence. I'm a bit of a mess like that because as I pointed out earlier on, I write, shoot and edit a film for months. So being objective about the end product is so hard. Every moment, every joke stops affecting me after a point in time. However, I am fortunate to have people like Abhijat, Boman and a couple of others. So, I see it from their point of view. Their reactions are fantastic to the teaser of Sanju, so I guess it's good."

Ranbir has literally gotten into the skin of his character and lifted Sanjay Dutt's mannerisms perfectly. Talking about Ranbir, Hirani had said, "I had a basic draft of this biopic when I sent Ranbir a message, ' I have a script, let's meet up when you're free.' Ranbir is usually aware of everything that is happening in the industry. He is very sharp. I'm guessing he already knew that I was planning a biopic on Sanjay. When I sent him the message, Ranbir promptly replied, 'I hope it's not the Sanjay Dutt biopic.' And I thought, 'Oh God, maybe he has heard and he may not want to do it.' I told him it's the same script, but let's meet. When I met him, I realised he knew a lot about Sanju. He had spent time with him and knew him well. He used to work out at his gym and had probably heard the stories. But when he saw the angle of the story, he was like, 'It's interesting, let's do it.'"

He added, "The first reason for choosing him is that he's a fantastic actor. And the second reason is that he is at the perfect age. I needed an actor who could be 21 (years old) because that is where the film begins. That was the age when Sanju was shooting for Rocky and his drug phase started. And then we have Sanju when he came out of prison (around 56 years). So, we needed someone who could fit that transformation."

Were there any similarities between the two? On this, he said, "Both come from film families, and have that X-factor, the charm. They have lived the life of actors all through. Ranbir is not someone from outside the industry who came here to be a hero. In a sense, it was easier for me to see him as Sanju. Physically, they're not similar. Sanju is bigger, but Ranbir is slightly taller than him. He doesn't seem so, but it is true. Ranbir worked very hard to get the physicality right. He spent days watching tons of videos to strike the right balance and when you observe him in the film, you will notice that there is a resemblance of Sanjay Dutt, yet you know it is Ranbir Kapoor. If he did anything slightly more, it would look caricaturish and if he did a little less, it wouldn't work. I didn't think about anyone else. I first thought of Ranbir and went straight to him and I can tell you, we were right."

In the end, the director was asked about Sanjay Dutt's reaction to the teaser. "I have shown it as well as some scenes to him. He gets overwhelmed. In fact, I told him to see the full film, but he said no, he would watch it when it's complete. He came to the sets only twice. I think he is pretty brave. He has talked about everything in his life. I don't think everyone will have that courage," Hirani ended the conversation and signed off.


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Ranbir Kapoor Ranbir Kapoor

Sanjay Dutt Sanjay Dutt

Rajkumar Hirani Rajkumar Hirani

Year : 2018