I have not watched the film Sanju. Yasser Usman has already written about Sanjay Dutt, I am yet to read it. I have not followed Sanjay Dutt really though I wish I could. I know some of his fans and they share similar traits as the star. In cases of those fans who are deeply internalize their favourite stars, the star persona and the fan personality appear to converge. Expectedly so; for stars are world views and fans are social beings existentially located in their worlds. Sanjay Dutt fans are attached to their mothers, somewhat are resentful of fathers, have little attachment to siblings, are indisciplined and have poor self-control. They love being defiant, generous to a fault, enter bad ways to cultivate enduring loyalties. I have little luxury for such wastrels. I think that I have too much on my hands to do.
But what stunned me were some stills of Ranbir Kapoor playing the role of Sanjay Dutt. By no stretch of imagination these photos were but not of Sanjay Dutt. The complete immerse of Ranbir, the actor into Sanju the character is beyond words. How can an actor play another actor so closely? Ranbir took a while off from films and ads, from television shows and stage appearances. He let go of his relationships with women because he was wholly “becoming” Sanjay Dutt. He has been the quintessential actor who prepares. He has been gearing up towards this grand feat since long, playing a sleepyhead lazybum to a Sikh salesman, a struggling actor and then a spastic child and now as Sanju, this role may well be the role of his lifetime.
In all the above, I see Neetu Singh. A Sikhni from a middle class married into the royalty of the Kapoor khandan, struggling to stay slim and fit and raising a son as she wants him to be, away from the strong surround sound of the large, boisterous, self-certain family. In this effort of hers, she has had to contain her husband on the one hand and promote the son on the other. She was perhaps determined to raise an actor and not a star; for stars have their problems of ego and smashed ego, the latter when they are no longer in the reckoning. There were rumours of not so long ago of she is being subject to domestic violence when she has had to run to the police station. The love bird image that she portrays with the husband, Rishi Kapoor on the sets of Kapil Sharma Show, may be a front but likelier to have come to terms or even managed the husband rather well. Rishi continues to be ill-tempered and grumpy in the presence of his wife, but Neetu seems to have found peace; the peace which, probably is from her son’s rising to the standards of her expectations. I think that Ranbir is on the anvil of adding to the Kapoor story, a great actor, something which all their stardom seems to have ignored. Ranbir adds the quality quotient to the quantity of star appeal that packs the family hall of fame.
I also noticed that the film Sanju is produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and directed by Raju Hirani. This is the same combination of the Munnabhai series. This vindicates my position that films of stars are always their biopics, in one way or the other. Through the conjuring up of Munnabhai as a character on screen, the duo was exploring the persona of the star, Sanjay Dutt. Directors who work with stars essentially are interested in the person the star is and hence, films by a star become some way of exploring biographies.
Star biographies must be different from biographies which are of businessmen, or professionals, and perhaps even of sportsmen. Stars are successful people; there is no reason for us to recount their successes. Nor are we concerned with the stories of their struggles for in cinema, success means struggle though in real life success can mean privilege. What we look for in film stars can be well imagined through the Egyptian mythology of the Ka, Ba and Sahu. The Egyptians believe that every human has a physical body and a spiritual body called the Sahu. The film star may be a Sahu for many of his/her fans and the films and his/her biography may well be a struggle between the physical body or the lived-in realm and a spiritual body, which lies hidden within the physical body, which can only manifest when physical aberrations of this world are removed. Raj Kapoor is great at this continuous separation between the constraints of the world and a utopia that lay beyond its contradictions. He would say many times to his wife Krishna, that she was the mother of her children, a mortal, concrete and a finite existence but Nargis was the mother of his films, the spiritual alliance that lay beyond the concrete and would have been a reality were the constraints of the lived-in reality of Raj Kapoor not been there. Interestingly, films explore the film star’s Sahu, the utopia, that would eventually redeem her or him. Gossips are ways of imagining a Sahu, what if Amitabh and Rekha were to marry? What if Shah Rukh Khan was to have an affair? For most film stars, biographies are essentially gossip hunters, or Sahu trackers asking the question, what if?
Films go beyond into the Ba, or the Bai which is the highly abstracted and acutely resolved personality traits of the person. Ba is imagined in singular terms, the animal that represents you, or the flower, or the song or color. If you look carefully, costumes and backdrops of film stars are never random; it is rare to find Amitabh Bachchan in an idyllic setting just as it is difficult to imagine Rajesh Khanna in a crowded slum by the sea in Goa. We can never quite think of Hema Malini as a school girl nor can we imagine Jaya Bhaduri as the tongawalli of Sholay. The Ba limits the diversities of roles that stars can play.
The Ka is merely the body double, expressed often in films as double roles. Within ourselves, this is what I can also do were I in a different situation. Much of our fantasies around film stars revolve around his/her ka. We are so excited to see Ajay Devgan enter a Nalli store or jump in our skin when next to us in Barista, Ajay Jadeja orders coffee for his wife and him. These are instances of the ka, present as a body double because this is not the place where he/she should be present.
When a biography is written about the star, it requires the exploration not of his life events but his soul events, events in which the Sahu, or possibilities if the constraints were removed, the Bai, or the real hidden personality and the Ka, the existence in the form of one’s double, or the spaces in real life, the star abounds. Whether a film around a star, or the star biography, or in a gossip column we are eager to find out the life of the star which is beyond what merely meets the eye. It is not a history of events, nor a set of memoirs with meaning.
Lets see how Sanju does….

About secondsaturn

Independent Scholar. Polymath.
This entry was posted in Film Reviews, Media Sociology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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