Whose Story Needs To Be Told?
Now that Sanju — the film that has given Bollywood a neat return of Rs 500 crore worldwide — is an undisputed hit, perhaps any talk of it being a flawed a product or somewhat agenda-driven, consciously or unconsciously, will be hurriedly set aside. With Sanjay Dutt, on whose dramatic life the film was based, denying that he had had an image makeover in exchange and exclaiming that no producer worth his salt would invest Rs 40 crore on the story of an ageing star such as himself, what seems to be missed is that the film has made him relevant again in the sweepstakes. Particularly at a time when his new releases are lined up one after another and the glitter of a story well-told from his perspective has not just seized the mass psyche but made him a commodity worth investing in.
Much has been written about how the film made him look like a disturbed child being played by fate, circumstance, society, peers and the media, absolving him of all responsibility in his wrongdoings. Much has been said of the media, which at one time publicised his frailties and helplessness in equal measure, not for news value as a star son but as somebody who slipped on his fatal flaws and was a victim of, as lawyer Kamini Jaiswal had said, “stupid machoism.” Let us not forget that the media then prioritised his coverage over that of Zaibunnisa Anwar Kazi, an elderly woman who was arrested for the same offence as actor Sanjay Dutt, hoarding ammunition, and charged similarly. And though the star was acquitted under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), Zaibunnisa was branded a terrorist and was incarcerated. No campaigns ran then on the differential treatment or Dutt’s privileged status. Will anybody bet a film on the real story now? Balance demands a counterpoint, no?
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