There is a fine line between liberalism and slander, and filmmakers don’t always err on the side of caution. Take, for example, Rajkumar Hirani, who has incorporated quite a cheeky sequence in his film Sanju.
One that borders on disparagement, referring to a distinguished political leader that Sanjay Dutt visited in hope of being granted amnesty for his transgressions. Apparently, this political leader, played by Anjan Shrivastava, who is known for his keen sense of poetry and oratory skills, fell asleep while Dutt was pouring his heart out to him.
In the voiceover, Ranbir Kapoor playing Dutt tells us, “We still don’t know whether he pretended to fall asleep to avoid hearing my problems, or if he actually fell asleep.” Anyone familiar with the eminent politicians of our country would know whom the film is referring to. We also know that the real Sanjay Dutt met with the then-Prime Minister in 1999 to ask for his help to travel to New York.
Prasoon Joshi, the Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification, chose not to comment on this nearly-unambiguous reference to a much-respected political leader. He justifies his position, saying, “We all knew whom the film is referring to, but he is only called ‘the politician’. If we had raised a hue and cry about it, that venerated politician’s name would’ve been out in the public domain.
The film’s team would have denied it and so would the politician, we all know that.” Ironically, by concealing the politician’s identity, Sanju resorts to the very ambiguity that the film so savagely attacks. Since they make a huge issue of the press using the question mark as an escape route while resorting to slanderous reportage, here’s another question — Who do you think is the politician who starts snoring while Dutt is venting to him in Sanju?...