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Created empathy for Sanjay Dutt in Sanju, admits director Rajkumar Hirani

During his talk at the IFTDA masterclass, the filmmaker confessed to adding a scene in the film to make viewers empathasize with the lead character in the film.

Our Correspondent

Filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju (2018), the biopic on actor Sanjay Dutt, is one of this year's biggest blockbusters. However, the film, starring Ranbir Kapoor, also received flak for allegedly glorifying Dutt and whitewashing his image.

Hirani finally admitted that he did make changes in the script to create empathy for the lead character in the film. He was speaking at the 17th IFTDA (Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association) masterclass yesterday (13 September). The event was hosted by Ashoke Pandit and the masterclass was moderated by well-known screenwriter Anjum Rajabali. 

The work that went into transforming Ranbir Kapoor into Sanjay Dutt for Sanju

Hirani said he was worried when viewers didn't respond well to the film’s initial edit. “During the shoot I felt what am I doing? I'm going wrong. In fact, when the first edit was ready and we screened for people, they hated him [Dutt]. They said, ‘We don't like this man. We don’t want to watch him'," he said. 

This is when the filmmaker decided to make a few changes. “Because I wanted to do a true story, I didn't create any empathy towards him. I said let’s not create empathy and show [him] as he is. But later I understood that he is our hero, we need some empathy for him,” he added. And a new scene was added to the script.

“The scene where he tries to kill himself after the verdict is out, which he had mentioned to me but we didn’t put in the film. I shot it later. It was not in the original script. I thought through this some empathy will come,” Hirani said. 

Despite the film becoming a blockbuster, Hirani believes it has errors. “Every film is a journey. Some things work and some don’t. I still see flaws in the film but you try your best and hope your best is good enough,” he added. 

Hirani is known for sending out social messages through entertaining films like Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (2003), Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), 3 Idiots (2009), and Ferrari Ki Sawaari (2012). However, the filmmaker said he doesn’t do it deliberately. “I don’t like putting messages in my movies. It’s just what I feel from inside is what is seen in my movies,” he informed. 

We generally hear actors adapting themselves to the working style of directors. But this equation seems to be opposite when it comes to Hirani, as he said, “Every actor comes with his own set of strengths. I personally try and adapt myself to the actor’s acting style as well.”