Women Are Nothing But Props In Rajkumar Hirani's Sanju

Women are placed in Sanju to shed a tear, to mollycoddle the poor little rich boy, to just look at him with admiration and throw adjectives like 'survivor'

Karishma Tanna appears in Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju for precisely a minute. Playing the character of Pinky, the would-be wife of Vicky Kaushal’s Kamlesh, she spends half of her screen time sporting a seductive nightie and coyly smiling at Ranbir Kapoor’s Sanju.

The writers’ (Rajkumar Hirani & Abhijat Joshi) lack of commitment towards their protagonist’s motivations, spills over to how lazily they deal with the urban legends surrounding Sanjay Dutt’s one-night stands and his addiction to sex.

He flirtatiously smiles at her. She looks back with her kittenish eyes. Ghapaghap (in the words of the film) ensues.

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This entire sequence is thrown at us out of the blue and it feels like they did so for no other reason than to give us  good-looking woman in lingerie. Pinky’s character could have been built up over a few scenes at least, so when Sanjay Dutt actually sleeps with his best friend’s girlfriend – it would have felt more shocking, than the comic sequence it was made out to be. How casually the writers move on from this episode to something involving AK-56 and RDX, is pretty much how they treat the film’s women.

Women are placed in scenes as mute objects – to shed a tear, to mollycoddle the poor little rich boy, to just look at him with admiration and to throw adjectives like ‘survivor’. There’s a strange, awkward energy in a scene where Sanjay Dutt forgets to show up at a marriage registrar’s office, instead choosing to get doped in his bath-tub. After Sonam Kapoor’s character confronts him (shrieking like how ONLY Sonam Kapoor can) she walks out with look of resignation and says to Vicky Kaushal’s character – “Please don’t tell him about what he did today. He’ll be shattered.”

No shit. Instead of slapping the shit out of him, let’s resort to ‘boys will be boys’. Because it’s Baba and when has he ever listened to anyone? Especially to anyone with a vagina? He’s too much of a troubled ‘man’ to take advice from anyone not sporting massive tattoos, sick sideburns, boulder-like shoulders and riding a Harley Davidson. One can’t help but draw parallels about the women in Hirani’s film and the women in Sanjay Dutt’s life, purely incidental. Looking at him from the wings as the spotlight shines brightly on controversy’s ‘favourite child’.

Priya Dutt’s character purely stands beside Paresh Rawal’s Sunil Dutt without uttering a single word, and occasionally looking at her brother with that ‘oh he’s so cute’ expression on her face. He has an unprofessional attitude in his line of work, something that has been served to him on a silver platter? Aww, so cute. He was barred from giving a speech for his suspect relationships with the underworld and the ’93 bomb blasts? Haww, so sad. And all this while, not having a single word of advice for him. None. Is it possible that Sanjay Dutt didn’t get a SINGLE word of advice from his sisters? Well, Raju Hirani’s film paints this exact picture.

Also, just look at the way the ‘world’s top biographer’ – Anushka Sharma’s Winnie Diaz, doesn’t ask a single question as Dutt goes on his hour-long monologues. Does she have NO QUESTIONS? Does she doubt nothing, from someone who has spent a better part of his youth being a compulsive liar?

The job of Sharma’s character is to shed a tear when the anecdote is a ‘tear-jerker’, smile with admiration for when the star is carefully candid about his list of girlfriends. Did he cheat on one of them, while she was battling cancer? Why did he ‘need’ an assault rifle for self-defence, what happened to full-time security? How did he feel about humiliating his father, ‘demanding’ his release each time they met in jail. Nope, none of these questions are asked and simply a book is rolled out called Kuch Toh Log Kahenge. Of course, log kahenge what an absolutely inept biographer.

It’s heart-crushing to see so many women in Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju, get the same kind of respect as the women from Sanjay Dutt’s mythical one-night stands. And to see their cumulative talent being wasted for Hirani’s nefarious film, no woman seems to have any relevance in Sanju’s life apart from the functional purposes – affection, support and sex.