Ever since it was announced, the Sanjay Dutt biopic has transformed into some kind of an organic entity that has a life of its own. And in many ways, the crests and troughs the proposed film Rajkumar Hirani directed film has already undergone even before the filming of a single frame, resembles the life of the very actor it is based upon.
Officially the film that was to feature Ranbir Kapoor as Sanjay Dutt has been delayed, but reading between the lines of statements made by the likes of Madhuri Dixit and Salman Khan — two people without whom any half-decent Sanjay Dutt biopic would be incomplete — presents a different picture.
For all intents and purpose, a Sanjay Dutt biopic is exactly the kind of thing that great cinema is made of and perhaps this was the very reason that idea might have cropped up in the head of Hirani. It is believed that during the shooting of PK, Dutt had started narrating his personal story to Hirani and somewhere in the midst of hearing the actor talk about the trials that he had undergone, Hirani decided to make a film on it.
This was also the time where the possibility of Dutt being convicted for his role in the 1993 Bombay serial blasts had come to a pass and the thought of incarceration made Dutt look within.
For this writer, the concept of a Sanjay Dutt biopic was always a shaky proposition. Even though Hirani has assured that things like the underworld would be a part of the biopic, no matter how hard he tried, could Dutt have risked going all-out about his drug addiction, the pain of witnessing his mother, the legendary Nargis, and wife, Richa Sharma, succumbing to cancer, his involvement with the underworld and the Bombay blasts?
Had the film gone on floors the moment Dutt was convicted and imprisoned, and even released before he walked a free man, the biopic would have ushered in a new phase in the actor’s life. But the delay invariably killed any chance that the biopic ever had for now that he is out, the sympathy aspect would reduce drastically.
For starters the biopic could have been a ploy on the part of Dutt, and possibly his third wife, Manyata, to keep the public interest in the actor alive during the period he was serving time. A fascinating concept as any, Dutt might have also fancied the idea of a film based on his life where instead of drawing parallels between the characters he played in Rocky, Naam, Munnabhai and his real life, fans would see him as is.
But with him out of jail and getting ready to play Rambo in the official Hindi remake of the Sylvester Stallone classic, the biopic doesn’t seem to be an exciting prospect. Moreover, while Dutt may be more than willing to set the record straight, people like Tina Munim and Madhuri Dixit — two women rumored to be romantically involved with Dutt — or Salman Khan, might not be game. There were reports about Dixit calling Dutt after two-and-a-half decades, requesting that any reference to her was removed from the biopic. On the other hand, Salman Khan at a press conference said that any biopic of Dutt would be incomplete without him being a part of it and at the same time added that he’d never give permission to anyone to make a film on his life; so how much of Salman would (or wouldn’t) be there in the Dutt life story?
Also, with Dutt himself hoping to keep Salman a part of the biopic, in addition to Ranbir opting to shoot for Ayan Mukherji’s Dragon before getting on with the Dutt biopic, one can’t help but wonder if the news of the film being shelved is actually true. The reason for the biopic to not start until early 2017 instead of August 2016 is Ranbir needs time to bulk up…but Hirani could very well shoot the scenes where Dutt wasn’t as beefy considering this is a film where he ages from 15 to 55.
Perhaps Dutt is entertaining the idea of playing himself in the later portions? Or the interest has actually died now that the looming threat of Dutt’s imprisonment and the extent of the imprisonment are a thing of the past?
With biopics becoming a genre that has generated a lot of interest in the recent years, a Bollywood biopic and that too, one on someone like Sanjay Dutt would have been a great boost for the genre. With Dutt more than willing to talk about his past, this was the opportunity for Hindi films to hit a new high. Instead the dead-end the many Kishore Kumar biopics have been hitting (ironically enough Ranbir Kapoor gave up the option of playing Kishore Kumar for Anurag Basu for portraying Dutt) or the constant legal hassles that have made the SahirLudhianvi-Amrita Pritam biopic a non-starter to name a few, seem to have become the obvious outcomes of Bollywood biopics.