Pack your bags Khan brethren! Today’s heroes are about to pull the rug out from under your feet because of their acting skills and not just their superstar cult following.

Mukesh Chhabra deserves a hat tip for putting together a cast that is sheer brilliance. Ranbir Kapoor dazzles in all his Sanjay Dutt avatars. What Ayurvedic dope was he consuming to draw out a performance this stunning? Not only his physical appearance but also his walk, talk, mannerisms, body tilts – he has really hit it out of the ballpark as Sanju. Putting yourself into someone else’s skin and life so convincingly is no easy feat. I cannot imagine any other actor emulating the complicated life of Sanjay Dutt so authentically.

For a movie this epic it wouldn’t have been enough to just have one character put in their heart and soul. The entire supporting cast was magnificent – Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt, Vicky Kaushal as Sanju’s best friend and many more. Vicky Kaushal, by the way, is one to watch out for. Same caliber and some hunger as a Rajkumar Rao to make it in an industry of Khans.

The only character that felt a bit out of place was Anushka Sharma with her head of curls and scary – almost sci-fi – blue eyes. Her character seemed a little less sculpted – sort of left between a writer, a detective and a relationship mender.

People are criticizing the lack of airtime for his wives, sisters and other friends but to portray a life as complicated as Sanjay Dutt’s the director had to choose what he was going to highlight to make it a taut overall narrative versus a sprinkling of all the flavors in his life. The spotlight is on Sanjay Dutt’s relationship with his parents – primarily his father – and his friends who influenced how he got into and out of drug addiction.

There is also critique about the authenticity of the happenings but movie goers can be very double-minded at times: On the one hand they demand bona fide details about every incident, on the other hand they want the movie watching experience to be entertaining. Duh! Rajkumar Hirani struck the perfect balance by not glorifying Sanjay Dutt to make him look like a saint and at the same time creating sympathy for his character through endearments.

The opening of Sanju states that “bad choices make for good stories” – I’d say shedding light on those bad choices made for an excellent story! (9/10)





Udta Punjab

A gut wrenching, stomach churning and heart breaking depiction of a systematic crime destroying not only individuals but entire families in the state of Punjab. The censor board would have committed another crime if they had banned this movie. Punjab’s drug problem – and likely other states’ as well – is too large to be shoved under the rug. Politicians, pharmaceuticals, the police – everyone is slow poisoning whole generations of youth. What hurts most though is the glorification of drugs by the rich and famous and the well-educated among our own peer group. I personally know people who find it “cool” to be high and wouldn’t miss any opportunity to oust you for not partaking. Imagine the impact of this juvenile and irresponsible behavior on vulnerable youth that become pray to peer pressure.

Tommy Singh reminded me every bit of Yo Yo Honey Singh. His lyrics are nearly as poisonous as Tommy’s. I wonder if anyone has ever thought about the impact his lyrics indirectly have on India’s rape problem and the fact that young adults care about nothing but their looks. Objectifying women, caring for nothing but appearances, inflated egos…an unfortunate manipulation of the social fabric.

Abhishek Chaubey hit the jackpot by getting this cast to play the finely crafted roles in this movie. Neither Shahid, nor Alia or Kareena had ever been my favorite actors but I was totally floored by how each one of them portrayed the characters they were given. It may have been Diljit Dosanjh’s first movie but he looked like he’s been at it for ages too.

I watched this movie at a 10pm show on a Monday night after being awake since 6am. The entire two hours and thirty minutes I was barely able keep my eyes off of the screen. Shaken, shocked and surprised, I walked out of the theatre trembling. (10/10)