Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who recently received the Padma Shri award, tells us that he was in the midst of his upcoming film’s shoot with Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra when he received the news. The film-maker discusses his pleasure at receiving the honour, facing criticism and more.
How does it feel to win such a prestigious award?
It feels special. I’ve worked hard for over twenty years, so an acknowledgement or pat on the back feels good. One feels that now, there is an added responsibility, and more to achieve.
You’ve faced your share of criticism in the past, and have even been written off by some people. Do you feel vindicated after getting this award?
Ups and downs make me a complete film-maker. It’s important to go through stupendous success and then stupendous failure. I never get carried away with either; I just work hard. After Saawariya (2007), I made Guzaarish (2010), which was not the safest choice. I do believe it deserved more awards, as did Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela (2013). However, if I don’t get an award, I don’t feel bitter.
We’ve heard you were very quiet when you began your career. How did that change?
I would never speak. I worked with Vidhu Vinod Chopra (film-maker) for seven years — from Parinda (1989) to 1942: A Love Story (1994) — and he was always worried about how I would reach out to people. It’s not an easy task when you have to deal with 150 people on the sets, get monies for your film and convince superstars to act in it, but in my case, I feel my work speaks more than I do.
Given a chance, would you remake any of your films?
I wouldn’t remake any of them, except for Khamoshi (1996). I was being pressurised to change the ending, and was too new to handle a dream cast of Salman Khan, Nana Patekar, Manisha Koirala, Seema Biswas and Helen. I was nobody, so the pressure affected me. If I made it now, I would have done a few things differently.