'You might hate him, but it will be an honest portrayal.'
Ranbir Kapoor introduces us to a Sanjay Dutt who we probably didn't know in Sanju.
"Anybody who has seen Sanjay Dutt in the different phases of his life is attracted to his energy," Ranbir says about the complicated man he is portraying on screen.
Patcy N/Rediff.com listens in. The second segment of a multi-part interview:
What's the best thing you like about Sanju?
The father-son relationship and his relationship with his best friend (played by Vicky Kaushal).
What were the easiest and most complex scenes?
I had a lot of fun doing the Munnabhai section; the making of the film was a lot of fun.
The complicated bit was the drug part because he was heavily into drugs.
There is a story, which is not in the film, that once, when he was doing drugs at home and the help (servant) told him that Duttsaab was calling him.
Sanju Sir was already high, but he had to meet his father.
So, he was standing in front of his father and he was seeing his father is melting.
A candle had come out of his head and that was burning his entire face.
So Sanju Sir ran and started hitting Duttsaab to blow off the candle!
He was that deep into drugs. It's sad to see someone go to that point.
Did any scene disturb you?
The day Sanju Sir's mother died.
At that time, Duttsaab had told Sanju Sir to stay in hospital to look after her, as she was in a coma and he had some work to do.
Sanju Sir was in hospital for four-five days.
He was alone, so he started doing heroin in the hospital.
Suddenly, one day, his mother woke up and called him.
She looked at him and said something.
Then, she died in front of his eyes.
Three days later was the premiere of Rocky.
They had to keep the premiere because his mother had said whatever happens to me, keep the premiere.
During the premiere, Sanju Sir ran outside the theatre. He was hallucinating and shivering.
Duttsaab came out and asked him what happened.
Sanju Sir narrated the incident when his mother died, that she had woken up and said something.
Till today, he doesn't know if she actually woke up or if he was imagining that.
If you just think about that... you don't know whether your mother actually woke up or if she died like that, it's very disturbing just to think of that.
The trailer has a scene where you put a commode seat around Sonam Kapoor's neck. Does the film show him in bad light too?
When you make a biopic, it has to be an honest portrayal of a person.
We are not here to portray Sanjay Dutt as a God. We are showing his mistakes.
In that scene, you find that character wrong, you see his bad side.
And it actually happened.
Sanjay Dutt was so deep into drugs that time that he had no idea what he was doing.
This is just one moment; there must be 2,000 such moments which was hard for me to believe that they happened, and how would I perform it.
It does disturb you when you do certain things like the jail sequences, or when he really went deep into drugs, but at the same time, it was also a lot of fun to play all that.
When you emotionally surrender to something, a part of you goes into the work and that's better than superficially working in a film.
It takes so much out of you that you actually feel alive.
Like, in a film like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, it is easier to go there for fun.
You cry on the surface, laugh on the surface... and that is very important too.
It's entertainment of a different kind.
What was it like working with Paresh Rawal who plays Sunil Dutt in the film?
The father-son dynamic is very important in our country because it is very complicated.
It is not like the father-daughter or mother-son relationship.
I have worked with Farooque Sheikhsaab, Anupam Kher, Saswata Sir (Chatterjee)... and really enjoyed it.
Film-makers like Ayan (Mukerji) understand that dynamic better.
With Sanju, the father-son dynamic between Paresh Rawal and me -- which is Sunil Duttsaab and Sanju -- is the backbone of the film.
It was a very complicated relationship.
Sanju feared him (Duttsaab); he would hide from him.
I remember when Raju Sir was interviewing the police officer who was interrogating Sanju Sir, he said that Sanju Sir's only request was, 'Please don't tell daddy'.
He was so vulnerable.
It was really stupid in a way because the world was going to get to know the trouble he was in, and all he said was, 'Don't tell daddy.'
I can relate to that dynamic.
My relationship with my dad is a little complex.
There is a lot of fear.
We aren't the best of friends, but still, there is a lot of love, respect and admiration.
Paresh sir is actually Sir Paresh Rawal.
He has been acting for so long, and has done such amazing work that he's a true actor.
Apart from movies, he also does Gujarati and Hindi theatre.
He is culturally so involved in entertainment. That's the mark of a true actor.
I am happy I got to work with him.
Paresh Rawal had good things to say about you. He says you light up as soon as you are in front of the camera.
I feel good that he says that about me.
I guess I am a little bit of an introvert, and that's why it is very hard for me to express myself.
But whenever I am in front of the camera, in character, I get a chance to be somebody. I guess that's why.
Manisha Koirala plays your mother.
As a child, I saw her with my father. They did so many films.
I have admired her in Khamoshi, Bombay and so many other amazing films.
She brought in so much dignity to Nargisji's character.
Also, who has suffered from cancer herself could identify with it.
It is a short part in the film, but because Manishaji has done it, it has an impact.
How is your relationship with your mother?
It's the best! She's my closest friend.
Whatever my sister and I are today is because of her. My father was busy working.
Every value system that we have, if people have said good things about my sister and me, it's because of my mother.
Your father got very emotional when he saw you in the trailer. What did he tell you?
He never says anything to me.
Raju Sir had to hide and shoot (his reaction) on the phone and send it to me.
Apart from being my father, he is an actor.
I feel very happy when he appreciates or gives me that sense patting my back.
He is yet to see the film; I am waiting for his reaction.
My mother saw the film two days back and she really loved it.
That's always a nice feeling, but I know she is my mother and she loves everything I do. (laughs).
Do you remember your first meeting with Sanjay Dutt?
I have known Sanjay Dutt from the time I was born.
My grandfather (Raj Kapoor) and his mother (Nargis) had a lovely creative collaboration on screen.
My father and he have been colleagues, so he has been very close to my family.
The first time I saw him was in Kashmir. My father was shooting a film called Sahibaan with Madhuri Dixit and him.
I was on set that day.
I saw this tall man with long hair and ear-rings, wearing a pathani. I was mesmerised by his personality.
Anybody who has seen Sanjay Dutt in the different phases of his life is attracted to his energy.
I think from then on, I have been fascinated by him. I had his poster on my cupboard.
He gifted you a Harley Davidson seven years ago.
My dad fired him because he did not want me to ride a motorbike. He felt it was too dangerous.
Sanju Sir likes to be fired.
He called and asked, 'Why did you tell Chintusaab?' He called and abused me.'
Just two days ago, he sent me this (he shows a picture of a white cycle on his cell phone). He asked me which colour cycle I like; he was sending it to me.
I get free gifts! I hope he doesn't stop after he watches the film (laughs).
Has your father given you any inputs, since he has worked with Sanjay Dutt?
He has never given me inputs on anything.
He doesn't interfere in my choices or anything I do. I respect that.
He gives me freedom to do what I want in my own way.
In a recent interview, Producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra said he wanted Ranveer Singh to play the title role, but when he saw your performance, he knew he was wrong.
I am really happy that this film came into my life.
I was really in need of inspiration, and it's a luxury for an actor to find it in every film that they do. I'm happy that it came to me.
What did you learn from Rajkumar Hirani?
His basic quality is his deep desire to entertain the audience.
He is one of the few film-makers I have interacted with who doesn't make movies for himself.
He wants to give you a message.
He wants entertainment, laughter, drama.
He wants to make you cry and in a simple way.
So there is no show off.
He doesn't say, 'Look how I have taken this shot.'
It's simple story telling, a story you will relate to.
Also, he's connected to his country and his people.
He comes from a small town, so his emotions are very simple and basic.
It's amazing for a director to have those qualities.
How was your physical transformation in the film?
When I started this film, I was 70 kilos. I was doing Jagga Jasoos then.
I had to put on 20 kilos because we shot this film in reverse. I started playing a 60-year-old Sanjay Dutt.
Then we kept losing weight between the phases.
I have always been thin -- main sukda insaan hoon.
So putting on muscle is very hard for me, I can lose weight fast.
I had to eat 10 meals in a day, wake up in the middle of the night to have protein shakes and work out for two hours.
Also, we would take a month-and-a-half break between each phase of Sanjay Dutt's life, so I would lose the weight and then we would start the next phase.
What do you take away from the film?
The biggest thing I want to take from Sanju is a hit (laughs).
When you say a film has changed you subconsciously, that happens after some time.
It is not that I finish a film and from the next day, I am a different person.
Subconsciously, this film will stay with me.
My respect and admiration for Sanjay Sir has changed, but this is not a propaganda film.
We are not doing a Sanjay Dutt PR exercise. We are not trying to clean his image.
You will find the story of a faulty man.
You might hate him, but it will be an honest portrayal.