He’s one of the most successful directors in Bollywood. As Sanjay Leela Bhansali turns 50 today. he talks about his film Ram Leela, the chemistry between its lead pair, the Mary Kom biopic and his soon-to-air TV show.
Looks like it’s a busy birthday for you.
I am in an exciting phase right now. I’m doing television for the first time in 20 years, so I am excited as well as nervous. The telecast starts on Monday. I’m also in the middle of shooting Ram Leela, besides the Mary Kom biopic. So there are a lot of things happening. But I feel this is what I have been working for the last 20-22 years in the industry. Finally, it’s paying off in terms of the excitement and joy of creating what you really believe in.
How is the Ram Leela shoot going on?
Right now I am absolutely in love with what I am creating and the way it’s moving ahead by God’s grace. This is the film that I wanted to make and I am enjoying each and every moment of it. It’s completely different from my last two films — Saawariya (2007) and Guzaarish (2010). It’s an absolutely crazy venture. I am letting myself go this time around.
Your lead pair, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, seem to be bonding a lot on the sets.
I interact with my artistes only as ‘actors’ on my sets. I wouldn’t know about their personal life, but their chemistry is stupendous and it’s beautiful to watch them together. As long as my artistes are playing roles in all honesty — which they should — I am happy. It’s important to respect people’s personal lives. Once they leave the sets, their space is private and we don’t interfere in each other’s lives. But if two people get along and connect with each other, it’s great because it’s nice to have two people who are connected instead of having them completely disconnected and coming to the sets to only perform ‘professionally.’
‘Making a film out of Saraswatichandra would have been very difficult’
What’s the status on the Mary Kom biopic with Priyanka Chopra as lead?
We will start shooting sometime around May-end or June. I am excited because Priyanka is a talented actor. And having a mainstream actor play the role of a boxer, and that too in a biopic makes it exciting.
And any development on the Ramana remake?
Yes, it’s an absolute cult film and Akshay plays the lead. The film is planned in such a way that absolute justice is done to the original. It will be extremely entertaining, but will still have something to say. The film’s shooting starts sometime in November-December.
Has your TV show Saraswatichandra been a challenge?
The vision is completely on the lines of how I would make a feature film. And the main challenge is to bring that vision on television.
So we have had a long discussion about its planning and preparation. Besides its implementation, I still have a major say in the screenplay, treatment, costumes, art direction, music and the kind of sequences that will be in it.
But you initially wanted to make a film based on the book?
Yes, since it’s a beautiful love story. But then the channel wanted something like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and Devdas (2002), which is a huge compliment for me. Saraswatichandra, as a novel, offers everything they (channel) were looking for. It is a love story with twists and turns, and it also has a long time span. Keeping all this in mind, I realised that maybe TV would be the apt vehicle for it (the novel). Making it into a film would have been difficult and gross injustice too.