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Padmavati To Release Without Any Fanfare, Bhansali’s Mom Offers Prayers

Finally when  Viacom 18 Motion  Pictures went  official with the release date  of their long-in-the-aching—and I do mean, aching—Padmavat(i) the first thing that Sanjay Bhansali’s very worried  mother did was to rush into their cosy Puja Room  in  their home to pray the film’s smooth release.

A mom’s prayers  can never go unanswered.At  least  SLB’s mom’s prayers have  never gone  unanswered. Three has  not been single  film of his that has  not been  in trouble. Right from his directorial debut Khamosh: The Musical which went from (first-choice) MadhuriDixit to Dimple Kapadia to Kajol to finally land in Manisha Koirala’s lap, to Devdas(where producer Bharat Shah moved from hospital to prison while  Bhansali tried to put together the finances from dayto-day shooting)  to Ram Leela and Bajirao Mastani(both besieged by political cultural  protests) there has never been a time when SLB has made a stress-free film.

“I don’t know what  it’s like to make a stress-free film. Stress is so much part of my cinema that I fear I may not be able  to make a film without it,” SLB once told me.

The director tries to shield  his mother from the hurt that he experiences on every project. But she knows.She has been watching her son suffer through Padmavati the worst ordeal he has faced as  a filmmaker.

“What has he done to deserve this? One of  the finest filmmakers  of  the country  hounded, threatened,bullied, assaulted…This is  not fair,” Mrs Leela Bhansali told a friend recently.

A  close family friend says, “Sanjay hasn’t slept at all for days and weeks. He has stopped taking his evening walks as they are not safe and  he doesn’t enjoy being seen  by neighbours walking  with security staff. He is not been meeting anyone,not even  his actors and technicians.”

Concerned and  worried Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone the lead players of SLB’s last three films including of course the beleaguered Padmavat(i) have been inquiring of their director’swellbeing.

“Ranveer and Deepika have tried to reach out.No one else from the  film industry except Aishwarya and  Sonam Kapoor have made any effort to contact SLB. He has been completely isolated in his moment  of crisis, grappling with the situation as best as he could, surviving only on prayers and his favourite Lata Mangeshkar’s songs.”

 When Viacom finally confirmed  the  January  25 release date there were conflicting responses from different sections of  the industry.

“But will they be able to release  the  film with all the protests still going on?” asked  one fellow-filmmaker.

 This  is a  valid and pervasive trepidation . Even as Viacom has taken a  deep breath and  plunged  into a release in the  midst of assorted hurdles,  the question of how the  next two weeks pans out before ‘D’ Day , looms large.

 “Be  very  quiet. No publicity, no marketing. The actors  won’t be seen promoting or talking about the  film.And  hope for  the best,” says a Padmavati team-member.

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