It will be interesting to see what Ranbir Kapoor does with his magical feet when he plays the actor Sanjay Dutt in Rajkumar Hirani’s biopic Sanju. Dutt is one of Hindi cinema’s most ungainly dancers, supreme in his inability to co-ordinate the bulk above the waist with the limbs below. Kapoor, on the other hand, is one of the most graceful movers in the movies, with a sense of timing as sharp as that of his father, Rishi Kapoor, and the talent to communicate the sheer joy of throwing his body about.
The Sanju teaser proves that Kapoor has his Dutt imitation down pat. If the movie has songs, will Kapoor dial down his enviable terpsichorean abilities too?
Although Kapoor did plenty of dancing in his first movie, Saawariya (2007), his choice of roles – brooding lovers, lost boy-men, truth seekers – has provided relatively few opportunities to dance. In Bachna Ae Haseeno (2007), which is named after a hit song featuring Rishi Kapoor, the opening credits feature a remixed version of the 1970s hit. In Lut Gaye Besharam from Besharam (2013), Ranbir Kapoor neatly parodies the crotch-thrusting and exaggerated pelvic thrusts that Hindi movie heroes are supposed to perform in public to impress women. Matargashti from Tamasha (2015) indicates that Kapoor can improvise (or pretend to), and co-star Deepika Padukone has a hard time keeping up.
The best platform for Kapoor to shake a leg has been the blockbuster Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), which includes the let-it-all-hang-out Holi number Balam Pichkari and a superb duet with Madhuri Dixit. The club song Budtameez Dil has some of the most energetic jiving seen in the movies in years, with Kapoor channeling his inner Shammi Kapoor in a fitting suit and a pin-striped tie.
In Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos (2017), Kapoor proves that he can hold the screen even when goofing around as an adolescent in a boarding school uniform. Basu’s colourful but unwieldy Tintin-style adventure is packed with songs, including the infectious Galti Se Mistake, which pops up in the movie, like many other moments, without needing to. The costumes are identical – olive green shorts, white t-shirt, sleeveless green sweater, and the background dancers numerous, but the eyes stay rivetted on Kapoor throughout.
Vijay Ganguly’s inventive choreography reflects both the madcap anything-goes quality of the situation (a night-time birthday celebration on campus) and the spirit of Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics, which recommend that you are young and carefree only once.
Jagga Jasoos was a tortured production, released after months of delay and eventually underperforming at the box office. Among the bits that will survive in memory is the song in which Kapoor cut a birthday cake on somebody’s raised bottom, imitated a bicycle, and pulled faces and wiggled his hips like a six-year-old. Kapoor’s ability to conceal the effort behind the effortlessness will be in demand in Sanju, a movie about an actor unbound in his personal life and severely limited in the acting and dance departments on the screen.