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It all felt like someone was attacking my child: Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Padmaavat protests

Film­maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali feels like he is the “God’s chosen one” as he goes through difficult times.

bollywood Updated: Feb 04, 2018 17:34 IST
Prashant Singh
Prashant Singh
Hindustan Times
Sanjay Leela Bhansali,Padmaavat,Karni Sena
Film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali speaks about his struggle when he was still making Padmaavat and protests disrupted his filmmaking.(PTI)

By now, it’s well known that Padmaavat features a number of brilliantly crafted war sequences. But even when film-maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali was designing such larger-than-life shots for his film, he was fighting like a valiant warrior off screen to ensure that his new creation reaches theatres beating all controversies, violence and threats.

“Ultimately, what’s important is to successfully complete the climb,” says Bhansali, as he talks about Padmaavat, controversies, and completing 25 years in the industry.

At this stage, how relieved and content are you?
I feel extremely good. When you fight a battle for a year-and-a half, it’s a really long time. It’s not something that you think anybody would go through to create a film in any part of the world. It was my biggest test but my commitment to the film was resolute. In such situations, you are always thinking, ‘Should I give up, or stand up and fight? Amidst all the fear, angst and humiliation, how do you sustain a fight for one-anda half years?’ It took all of my 24 years’ experience — from 1942: A Love Story (1994) to now — and the fact that I loved this film to get it through. It is like climbing the Himalayas. There will be storms and avalanches, but it’s a part of it [the journey].

What gave you the strength to not get bogged down by whatever was happening around you?
If you love something more than yourself in life, then it doesn’t matter. I don’t know anything else. I don’t know how to use a computer, how to drive, or even to change batteries. I only know how to make a film. That is one thing that I live and die for. I don’t want money or fame. It all felt like someone was attacking my child and I was just nurturing my film. Come what may, I was going to give my everything for this film and not let anyone affect what I wanted to do.

You have had the story of Padmaavat with you for a long time. Are you relieved that it is finally out there?
I have a list of films out of which I have ticked out four, and I was planning them over the years. There are more to come and all of them are very ambitious and difficult. I have anyway always made difficult films and never taken a shortcut. On paper, a film may seem impossible but if you have the conviction then it cuts across. The conviction and the madness with which you make a film are important. The only thing that makes me unhappy is that the film was always planned as a film to show the glory and valour of Rajasthan, but it hasn’t yet released in that state.

You have completed almost 25 years in the industry now. How do you look back at your journey?
I hope they don’t give me a lifetime achievement award (laughs). It’s been tough for me. I have not been given even one day’s respite. All these years, I have just slogged, fought through, and it’s been like climbing up a straight mountain. It has been very tiring, adventurous, but also great fun. I have had beautiful experiences in the industry and have met great people over the years. In fact, I have also accepted some of the disagreements over my work very nicely (smiles).

And you have always worked on your own terms…
I have done all that I wanted to and have done it my way without compromising or being part of any camp. I was always a loner, who worked hard and did what I had to do. There have been some energies, creative angels or guardian angels watching over me. Now, I experience an amazing power that I always felt through all these years of making films which in itself seemed so difficult and impossible. For a person who wouldn’t talk — Vinod Chopra taught me how to talk — to reach this stage and make Padmaavat, has been a great learning process. I have been through so much and am ready to go through even more in my next phase.

Talks have been doing the rounds about a film on Sahir Ludhianvi..
That’s not a film I am directing. Those are my home productions which I will now get into. There is a whole line up of films which we are getting into now so that’s what I am going to be focussed on (for sometime now).

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First Published: Feb 04, 2018 16:10 IST