His kind of cinema is different -- but Sanjay Leela Bhansali, known for films like Devdas, Black and Guzaarish, broke new ground by producing a masala film like Rowdy Rathore. He admits the industry is flooded with films of all genres, but says potboilers have never gone out of fashion and would never.
"Luckily, all kinds of films are being made today. But the one genre that continues its successful run is the potboiler. It cuts across all sections of the audience," said Bhansali.
Rowdy Rathore, directed by Prabhu Deva, marked the action comeback of Bollywood's 'khiladi' Akshay Kumar, who was paired alongside Sonakshi Sinha. A unique offering from Bhansali, the movie managed to rake in Rs.29.8 crore in the first two days of its release.
The filmmaker is happy with the response, and feels it has instilled a sense of flamboyance in his style of filmmaking. Nevertheless, he admits his aesthetics of filmmaking will remain intact in his own directorials.
Excerpts from his interview:
Rowdy Rathore is being seen as a work of compromised art by people who expect you to make Devdas, Black and Guzaarish?
Why would I only produce the films that I'd want to direct myself? Why shouldn't I produce the kind of films that perhaps somewhere I enjoy watching, have grown up watching? My father(Naveen Bhansali) produced a film called Jahaaji Lootera. Somewhere in my subconscious, Jahaaji Lootere has remained embedded. It has now surfaced in Rowdy Rathore.
But critics who associate you with the aesthetics of Black are shocked?
Luckily all kinds of films are being made today. But the one genre that continues its successful run is the potboiler. It cuts across all sections of the audience. Rowdy Rathore is the kind of film I used to clap and cheer for as a child at Alankar Talkies and Imperial Talkies alike.
Last week, when I visited Chandan Talkies, members of the audience came forward to shake my hand and hug me warmly. It's something I've never experienced after any of my own self-directed films. It's all new to me. And I'm enjoying myself thoroughly.
No one can make me feel guilty or apologetic just because I've had as much fun producing Rowdy Rathore as I did directing Black. I feel rejuvenated.
So is Rowdy Rathore going to be the new benchmark of Sanjay Leela Bhansali productions?
Not the films I direct. I'm very convinced about my aesthetics. I'm very proud of Black and Guzaarish. But I'm not new to mass acceptance. My Devdas had created the same euphoria. Lataji (Lata Mangeshkar) sings the soft Allah Tero Naam and the massy Bangle Ke Peeche with equal flawlessness. I can't claim to be as versatile. I will direct the films I am comfortable with. The films I direct will continue to reveal my aesthetics.
So you did it for the box office?
No, for the joy of making the kind of cinema I grew up watching. No one can predict the outcome at the box office and make films accordingly. But who doesn't want to produce successful films? Devdas was made within the popular format. But the aesthetics were different from Rowdy Rathore.
I can't direct the films that Prabhu Deva can. I admit I wouldn't be comfortable doing this. It comes naturally to Prabhu Deva. I want to produce such films. It isn't easy to make Rowdy Rathore. It requires a lot of skill to make the kind of cinema where audiences jump out of their seats whistling and clapping.
Is Rowdy Rathore a new beginning for you?
As a human being, I've lately become far more outgoing. I enjoy the changes in me. The suffering and intensity can never leave me. I now look forward to the sunshine and that will reflect in my next film I direct. It has two of the sunniest stars Kareena Kapoor and Ranveer Singh.
How will Rowdy Rathore change your attitude to filmmaking?
As a filmmaker, Rowdy Rathore has opened new doors in my vision. A certain kind of flamboyance will be part of the film I direct and produce henceforth. Rowdy Rathore has put me in a happy positive frame of mind.
What are you producing next?
Another south Indian remake. Of course, remakes are the easy way out. I produced an original script My Friend Pinto. No one came to see it. I want to make films that reach out to a wide audience.