Sanju Movie Review: “Sanju” is a 2018 Indian Hindi biographical film directed by Rajkumar Hirani, who co-wrote it with Abhijat Joshi. Produced by Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the film chronicles the tumultuous life of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, focusing on his drug addiction, arrest related to the 1993 Bombay bombings, his relationship with his father, and his acting career. Ranbir Kapoor stars as Dutt, supported by Paresh Rawal, Vicky Kaushal, Manisha Koirala, Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor, Dia Mirza, and Jim Sarbh.

Inspired by anecdotes shared by Dutt, Hirani decided to make the film, titling it “Sanju,” after the nickname used by Dutt’s mother, Nargis. Filming began in January 2017 and concluded in January 2018. The soundtrack features compositions by Rohan-Rohan, Vikram Montrose, and guest composer A. R. Rahman. Fox Star Studios acquired the distribution rights.

Released on 29 June 2018, “Sanju” received positive reviews for its direction, screenplay, music, cinematography, and performances, particularly those of Kapoor, Kaushal, Rawal, and Koirala. Despite some criticism regarding its portrayal of Dutt, the film had the highest opening for an Indian film in 2018 and achieved the highest single-day collection for a Hindi film in India by its third day. Grossing over ₹587 crore (US$85.83 million) worldwide, it became the second highest-grossing Indian film of 2018 and the highest-grossing Hindi film of the year. The film earned seven nominations at the 64th Filmfare Awards, winning Best Actor for Kapoor and Best Supporting Actor for Kaushal.

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D.N. Tripathi, a lyricist, writes a biography comparing Sanjay Dutt to Mahatma Gandhi, which angers Sanjay, leading him to throw Tripathi out. The Supreme Court sentences Sanjay to five years in jail for his role in the 1993 Bombay bombings. Sanjay’s wife Manyata, living with their twin children, asks London-based writer Winnie Diaz to write his biography. Initially reluctant, Winnie becomes intrigued after real estate builder Zubin Mistry advises against it.

Winnie discovers Sanjay’s history as a womanizer, learning he has slept with over 200 women, a number Sanjay laughs off as being much higher. She interviews him, and his life story unfolds in a flashback.

Sanjay’s father, Sunil Dutt, launches his film career with “Rocky” (1981). Frustrated by Sunil’s control, Sanjay, encouraged by Zubin “God,” tries drugs. His mother Nargis’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis worsens his addiction. In New York, Sanjay befriends Kamlesh “Kamli,” who helps him stay clean. However, after learning his girlfriend Ruby is marrying someone else, Sanjay relapses. Ruby leaves him after finding him using drugs.

Nargis dies three days before “Rocky” releases, deeply affecting Sanjay. He agrees to rehab in the U.S. and recovers with Sunil and Kamlesh’s support. Upon returning, Sanjay beats Zubin for selling him drugs.

In the present, a now-estranged billionaire Kamlesh tells Winnie about Sanjay’s later life. Sanjay’s Bollywood career improves in the 1990s after turning to bodybuilding. He cheats Kamlesh by sleeping with his girlfriend Pinky, but they reconcile when Kamlesh learns Pinky loved him for his wealth.

After the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition, Sanjay acquires AK-56 rifles to protect his family. Arrested in 1993 for possessing illegal arms linked to the D-Company, Sanjay is sentenced to five years under TADA, damaging his career and image. Kamlesh severs ties, believing him guilty.

Post-1995, Sanjay’s career declines until Sunil convinces him to star in “Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.” (2003), which revives his image and wins him a Filmfare Award. Sunil dies shortly after. In 2006, the Bombay High Court finds Sanjay guilty under the Arms Act, and he is jailed again in 2013. Sanjay maintains his innocence, blaming the media for false accusations.

Released on bail in 2016, Sanjay learns Winnie has completed his biography, titled “Kuch Toh Log Kahenge.” He reunites with Kamlesh and Manyata, advising his children to emulate Sunil, not him.

Main Casts

Ranbir Kapoor Sanjay Dutt Dia Mirza Manyata Dutt
Vicky Kaushal Kamlesh Paresh Rawal Sunil Dutt
Anushka Sharma Winnie Diaz Sonam Kapoor Ruby Irani


Director Rajkumar Hirani was initially hesitant when Manyata Dutt casually suggested making a film about her husband Sanjay Dutt’s life. He felt that “Sanju’s world is very different from my world” . However, in an interview with Daily News & Analysis, Hirani shared what eventually changed his mind: “He was lonely. Manyata was in the hospital, and he would come home to an empty house, just venting and speaking from the heart. He started sharing anecdotes that were gems for a filmmaker.”

To gather material for the film, Hirani spent extensive time recording conversations with Sanjay and speaking to those who knew him, including journalists, cops, relatives, and friends. Hirani felt that “there was a movie that should be told” . In another interview with DNA After Hrs, Hirani confirmed that after much deliberation, they named the film “Sanju,” as it was the nickname Sanjay’s mother, Nargis, used for him.

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