Rajkumar Hirani has vociferously defended Sanju saying that he has showed everything he could, in his cinematic ability. He has denied the charge that he has tried to whitewash Sanjay Dutt's life through his film. He said he made the biopic only after being convinced of controversial Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt's innocence.
Delivering at a masterclass on ‘The making of Sanju’, being held as a part of the ongoing Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM), Hirani said he made the film only after an extensive research. A report in DNA quoted the director as saying, “All his life, he (Dutt) has been accused that he had stored RDX in his house...I have been through every Supreme court judgement, every judge and he has not been accused of that at all".
"So where in this universe has this thing come up that he kept this thing? I made this film because I believed in it and after tremendous research, we stepped into this movie. If there was a speck of a doubt that he was involved in that, we won't have made this film," Hirani told the audience.
In November 2006, Dutt, 59, was acquitted under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) but convicted under Arms Act for illegal possession of weapons. Hirani is a guest at the festival along with Vicky Kaushal and Abhijat Joshi, who co-wrote Sanju with the director.
Hirani said he was very surprised after his film was criticised by a section of people and media who described the movie as a "whitewash". "There are always two reactions. One from the filmmakers and within the industry and there is another reaction from the real people who are viewers,'' Hirani said.
The 55-year-old filmmaker also said despite the negative reception from the industry people, the film has been appreciated by the viewers. "I can just gauge from what people are saying about their kids who are into drugs and also father-son relations," Hirani said, adding that he has been getting positive and good reactions.
Talking about the reaction from the media about the film, Hirani said the word "whitewashing" has been thrown a lot. "At some stage, I wanted to address that what have I done. I was very surprised with the reaction I have received. I want to ask where have I whitewashed Sanju," Hirani said.
"I am not defending Sanju. I am defending our film and I want to ask what was Sanju's crime... We have shown that he kept a gun. We have shown he destroyed a gun. We have shown that he was given five years for the jail and we have shown that he realises it was a mistake that he made. We have shown he took drugs to this extreme."
"If we wanted to whitewash we would have shown him in good taste. So where have I whitewashed," he added.
Joshi supported Hirani and said he was humbled by the "intelligence of the audiences".
"There is another kind of whitewash going which nobody is talking about and which is that question mark journalism," Joshi said. "We have the highest regards for our journalists but the problem is that a section of media is doing this kind of sensationalising," he added.