‘Soorma’ vs ‘Sanju’: Why do films on anti-heroes attract larger crowds? (Column: Bollywood Spotlight)

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For all its flaws, Reema Kagti’s “Gold” must be applauded in the loudest possible way, for bringing to the screen lives of unsung heroes involved in a sport that lacks the glamorous appeal of cricket and football.

I mean, if Dhyan Chand were alive today would be be able to compete with Virat Kohli’s superstardom?

Hockey in many ways epitomises the entire culture in our cinema of sidelining real heroes for films about gangsters, tax defaulters and serial killers.

Think of this. If the Nirbhaya rapists were to know that Deepa Mehta actually made a film which showed their point of view about their bestial behaviour, wouldn’t they, on some perverse level, feel like heroes?

It shames me to say this, but the Sanjay Dutt bio-pic in its third week did a far better business than the Sandeep Singh bio-pic in its first week.

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For those who came in late, Sandeep Singh is an Arjuna-award winner who has brought great glory to India in the field of hockey. Sanjay Dutt needs no introduction. Except for a gun which plays a pivotal part in both the bio-pics, there is nothing in common between the two stories.

While the story of one is worthy of being seen by every man, woman and child, the other’s lifestory is so lurid and picturesque that watching his saga is like being in a wild orchard filled with forbidden fruits.

Just think. While Sanjay Dutt apparently had over 300 girlfriends(and this number, we are informed, does not include sex workers), Sandeep Singh dedicated his life to one woman and one love whose real name is not even mentioned in the film.

Recently, in a television interview, Dutt was asked if the number of girlfriends mentioned in “Sanju” was correct. Looking sheepishly at the interviewer, Baba (anything but black sheep) grinned that it was a “fair number”, and no he hadn’t kept a diary of his sexual conquests. Maybe he should have. At least we would have got to know why 300-plus women in India fell for the badass image of Sanjay Dutt. Drugs, guns and rock ‘n’ roll. Yeah, baby yeah. So cool.

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Anyone who walks into the theatre to watch “Sanju” knows every sordid detail of his life and expects it be ladled out in full measure. Director Raj Kumar Hirani doesn’t hold back the titillation. He only curbs the truth and Ranbir Kapoor gives a clean-boy image to Sanjay Dutt.

I hear both Dutt and Kapoor now plan to work together in a film. Considering how much media-bashing “Sanju” indulges in, I suggest a film on the rivalry between two publishers of the two biggest newspapers of the country. I even have a title, Jain & Tonic.

Sandeep Singh, with his unparalleled return from near-death to the top of the playing field cannot hope to equal the allure of the dark web where Sanjay Dutt’s story belongs. It still remains in the dark. “Sanju” has told us nothing we didn’t already know. “Soorma” tells us everything we ought to know. The difference is between celebrating a true hero and glorifying a life of truancy.

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Take your pick. Sadly, the audience already has made its choice. Can’t wait to see a bio-pic on the sports rogue who pushed a 17-year old girl to her death during a mock-drill in Coimbatore. We can name it “Maut Ka Messiah”.

(Subhash K. Jha can be contacted at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>)

–IANS

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