But make no mistake, the film has the Hirani stamp all over it. Opting for a more light hearted tone, the focus is on reinforcing the importance of human relationships and values over anything else. Starting on a rather uneven note, the film finds its ground at around half an hour into it and it is these portions where Hirani reveals his magical skills in getting the audience deeply involved in his screenplay as we see Sanju's life fall apart like a pack of cards. In fact, I was so emotionally charged at this point that I wished the film didn't have an intermission break.
Alas, like most of his previous films, the break doesn't bode well for the second half. From here on, despite interesting ideas about superficial journalism and revealing insights into his life post charges of terrorism, I was never fully invested in the screenplay and its formulaic approach. The characterization becomes sketchy, conflicts are too conveniently resolved and the climax is a bit of let down.
Despite the shortcomings, the film is balanced by a career-best performance by Ranbir Kapoor, who not merely imitates but lives the life of Sanjay Dutt through his empathetic portrayal. Never appearing caricaturish or seeming to go off track, his catches the pulse of the character with perfection. Also, Vicky Kaushal deserves special mention for making his presence felt throughout the film with a pretty solid performance.
Much like Dutt's life, the film has many highs and lows, but it deserves a watch for the terrific first half and the gifted Ranbir Kapoor.