Fawning admiration of Bollywood’s Sanjay Dutt the downfall of ‘Sanju’

Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor waves during the teaser launch of his Indian biographical drama Hindi film 'Sanju', based on the life of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, in Mumbai on April 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 01 July 2018
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Fawning admiration of Bollywood’s Sanjay Dutt the downfall of ‘Sanju’

CHENNAI: It is never easy to create a biopic about a celebrity who is still alive, but that isn’t the only reason Rajkumar Hirani’s “Sanju” fails to hit the mark. Hirani — who is known for “Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.,” “Three Idiots” and “PK” — appears to be in awe of his subject, actor Sanjay Dutt, who was once labelled the “bad boy of Bollywood.” The son of illustrious parents, actors Sunil Dutt and Nargis, Sanjay (who was endearingly called Sanju at home) entangled himself in a web of drugs and women before he was convicted of possessing guns supplied by extremists who staged the 1993 bombings in Mumbai in 2006.

Hirani, who co-wrote the screenplay, however, refuses to blame his protagonist. As he tells us in his movie — and as Sanjay (played by Ranbir Kapoor) narrates to his wide-eyed, besotted biographer, Winnie Diaz (played by Anushka Sharma in a hideous wig) — Sanjay was supposedly a victim of circumstance. It is only his wife, Manyata Dutt (Dia Mirza), who injects a bit of balance into the story by saying that her husband had made “bad choices.”

The film leads viewers through a winding checklist of why the wayward actor cannot possibly take responsibility for his actions, including his mother Nargis’ (Manisha Koirala) cancer and his girlfriend Ruby’s (Sonam Kapoor) decision to walk away from the relationship. Drug peddlers and communal violence are blamed for the actor’s decline into increasingly questionable behavior, with little responsibility laid at his feet. It’s hard to swallow and bitter at best in a country where Bollywood actors are sometimes perceived to have been unfairly absolved of their crimes.

In the end, the press is blamed for Sanjay’s travails: It convicted him even before the judicial process could be completed. While he is now free, having spent 23 years in and out of jail, Hirani’s hagiographic admiration leaves the viewer with no real answer as to why the actor associated with unsavory characters in the first place.

With its largely disappointing cast — barring Ranbir, who melts seamlessly into character, and Vicky Kaushal as Sanju’s friend, Kamli, who brings radiant humor to the film — this puppy-eyed look at a Bollywood legend falls disappointingly short of the mark.


King Abdul Aziz Foundation archives around 6,000 interviews with Saudis

Researching and recording oral histories can give a sense of cultural value. (Photo/Social media)
Updated 22 October 2018
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King Abdul Aziz Foundation archives around 6,000 interviews with Saudis

  • Darah assigned a number of specialized teams to carry out visits to the Kingdom’s different regions

RIYADH: The Oral History Center of the King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Darah) has archived around 6,000 interviews with Saudi nationals past and present, said the Saudi Press Agency.
The Saudi Oral History Center was established in 1997. It was the third of its kind in the world, after the United States and Britain.
Darah hosts millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts and is considered the main source of Saudi national history inside the Kingdom, and abroad through the Oral History Center.
Darah assigned a number of specialized teams to carry out visits to the Kingdom’s different regions, speak to citizens about their histories, study sources of national history, and document the accounts of those who directly or indirectly contributed to the Kingdom’s history.
It conducted audio-visual interviews with many contemporaries and witnesses, and transcribed them, and investigated those stories based on scientific and technical protocols. It did this in cooperation with universities and international centers specializing in oral history, and with national and regional institutions interested in oral history and heritage.
Darah sees oral history — a precise account from eyewitnesses, or reported contemporary accounts — as an important resource. Many Western countries place great emphasis on oral histories and have established specialized centers to record and preserve such accounts.
The Foundation also considers oral histories a useful tool that can fill gaps left in recorded history, especially regarding personal histories of families.
Researching and recording oral histories can also provide the elderly with a sense of value and bring generations closer together.