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The Repeated Attack On Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Cinema Is No Coincidence

Who tipped off the goons about Bhansali’s new shooting location?

 When I first heard of the second cowardly attack on my friend Sanjay Bhansali’s set, my first reaction was “Not again!”

How can lightning strike the same place twice? Apparently it can, if you are Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Envied, adulated, deified and damned for being who he  is. The Indian film industry is more envious than enviable. Success is never taken gracefully by those who are successful and even less gracefully  by those who are not.

Put very bluntly, there are very influential people in the film industry who would like nothing better than to see SLB’s downfall. For some reason, SLB is no Karan Johar. Come to think of it, Karan Johar is no longer ‘Karan Johar’ the symbol and epitome of gregariousness and goodwill. SLB has always instigated more envy than goodwill.

After the last attack in Jaipur when Padmavati had to be quickly wrapped up, SLB’s fellow-filmmaker(hugely successful in his own right) stunned me speechless when he called to say, “Your friend should learn to be more friendly. He should reach out to more people, stop acting like a  movie moghul.”

Forget the fact that SLB doesn’t behave  like  a Moghu, how is his personal conduct responsible for his problems with Padmavati?…Unless in a  serves-him-right kind of way.

It is sad to see SLB’s colleagues rationalizing the lunacy that has taken over the fate of Padmavati. I’ve seen SLB’s struggle  to get out of the crisis caused in Jaipur last month by a bunch  of goons.Though he was joking about the violence I know how badly he was shaken.For some time he thought he would close down the film. But then his three principal actors Ranveer, Deepika and Shahid Kapoor told him they won’t go into any other project until Padmavati was done and delivered. Simultaneously the film’s extremely professional and clued in producers Viacom 18 Motion Pictures swore their allegiance to the product, come what may.Hats off to them for dealing so bravely with  the setbacks brought on by Rangoon and now the goons….

That gave SLB the strength to relocate his shooting schedule. The Kolhapur location was not revealed to anyone,  not even SLB’s mother or best friend(me). Then how did the goons get to know about it? Who’s tipping off the anti-Padmavati squad? No, this is not a paranoid response to lightening striking the same place twice.  All of us close to  Padmavati is wondering how and why the same crew could be be attacked so viciously twice!

After the second attack on Tuesday night the entire Padmavati team was trying to keep SLB’s morale high inKolhapur. They joked,sang,teased one another. It was their way of fighting fear.Darr lagey toh gana gaa.Not an easy thing to do, when your dream is savagely attacked twice. Who’s to say there won’t be a third attack? And a fourth? And how long can this creative assault go on without damaging someone’s life?

This is  not the first time  SLB’s cinema has been attacked. He shot  the epic Devdas under the most trying circumstances with the producer in hospital , and funds drying up. SLB would wait in the hospital lobby every evening for funds for the next day’s shooting. One day when funds simply dried one of the lead players ofDevdas refused to shoot. “Pehle paise phir shooting,” she said and refused to come  out of her van. The words still echo in SLB’s ears.

And we all know the protests and backlash after Bajirao Mastani . When it was released a distinguished Marathi actor known for his outspoken ways called up SLB and abused him for showing their Maratha Prince dancing.

Then there was the time when the entire set of Black was razed to the ground. Now he has undergone  anotheragnee-pariksha. Fire and SLB have for long shared a love-hate relationship.Undergoing an ordeal by fire makes him a stronger creator. He will make Padmavati and it will be a sensational success.

You watch.

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