He etches his larger-than-life characters on an opulent canvas with an extraordinary tale of love to tell. From Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam to Devdas to Saawariya, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has romanced the big screen like no one else has.
And now, the director and producer — who has recently made his television debut as a producer with Star Plus’ show Saraswatichandra — promises to create the same magic on small screen.
The teleserial has Gautam Rode (Saraswatichandra) and Jennifer Winget (Kumud) playing the lead roles, while Monica Bedi is seen playing a negative character for the first time.
About his first TV initiative in a 20-year career, Bhansali says, “The show is based on the 1887 novel, Saraswatichandra, by Govardhanram Madhavaram Tripathi. In 1968, Govind Saraiya made a film on the novel that featured Nutan. I had always been keen on making a film on this novel. It was my dream to bring this story on screen, and here I am with a TV serial.”
But the show has a different setting than the original story, quips Bhansali, drawing a parallel: “Similar to how I had adapted Devdas in a style that was different from Bimal Roy’s Devdas. In Devdas, I made Paro and Chandramukhi meet — not shown earlier. Many people appreciated it but there were many who criticised it too. If the 1887 novel is still relevant or not, I will find only from the response the show gets. The changes in the story have been made to reach out to today’s audience; it’s an experiment.”
Talking about the difference between the big and the small screen, he says, “Small screen is bigger and has wider reach than the big screen. The audience of TV are far more than the audience of cinema. TV is as important as silver screen. And the same amount of hard work goes in the television industry. I have realised that TV is not an easy medium. It’s a new medium and has its own demands. I got to learn a lot from it.”
Bhansali, who is busy shooting Ram Leela, his film featuring Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, did not direct the serial himself. Bhansali believes Arvind Babbar, the director of the serial, has done a “tremendous” job. “When Arvind showed me the pilot, I was jealous for a moment and thought why did I not direct the serial myself,” says he.