Sanjay Leela Bhansali still recalls with shuddering smile the trauma that he went through while making Padmaawat when he and the film were attacked by a right-wing group.
“It was crazy!Through all of it, I was more worried about my mother and happy that she was with me. I don’t know how I’d have survived without her at my side. She kept saying, ‘Mere bete ke saath aisa kyon ho raha hai? Woh itni achchi filmein banata hai’.My mother was my pillar of strength.”
But Sanjay never thought of giving up. “Never . Not at all. Never! That would’ve been the end of me as a filmmaker.Every time I was attacked I used my pain and suffering as an impetus to work better. I channelized all my anxiety into making Padmaavat.I think suffering has always been an incentive for my creativity.”
So was Padmaavat history or fiction. Or both?Explains the brilliant director, “It was based on the poem Padmawat by Malik Mohammed Jayasi. But it also had figures and incidents taken from actual history. I was fascinated by Rani Padmavati from my childhood. Her grace dignity valour and inner strength are very inspiring . I wanted to make a film on her life for a very long time. But before I could do the film I got the chance to direct the stage musical version of Padmavati an opera in two acts by the French composer Albert Roussel that I directed in Paris in 2008.”
However the film had nothing to do with the Opera. “ Not at all. That Padmavati was a staged musical done on a lavish scale with elephants tigers and other animals on stage. It was an entirely different experience from the film. This is the first time I explored evil in such dark deep detail . I had never before gone into this zone before.To portray evil on this scale was a new and challenging experience for me.”
Ranveer Singh got incredible reviews for his villainous act.Was Bhansali at all unsure of his cast’s boxoffice status after Ranveer’s Befikre, and Deepika Padukone after XXX and Shahid Kapoor after Rangoon? “Not at all! It made no difference to me whether they had successes or flops behind them. I wanted these actors and only these three actors.And I am so happy with the quality of performances they have gave in my film.”