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Sanjay Bhansali: “Berlin Was Memorable In Every Way Possible”



Alia bhatt in Gangubai Kathiawadi

Sanjay Leela  Bhansali has  returned  from  the Berlin Film Festival  a very happy man.

He says, “It was memorable in every way possible.I cannot thank the  Festival  organizers enough for  the  honour that  they  gave my  film. The Gala  premiere  was on 16 February.It was a full-moon night.It was also a rain-washed  frosty  night. The combination of  the fullmoon and   the  rains  was I think godsent. It was  His  blessing.  The Devdas premiere had  happened  on  a no-moon  night: it  was lunar  eclipse. I always feel  the  hand of God in my films.At  the most  expected  of times , when  life looks  unsure , God has brought down the rains .I feel they are a sign for me.”

  Bhansali  and his team   had to follow  strict Covid guidelines during the trip to Berlin. But he  says  the  trip was  worth all  the discomfort. “It is  difficult  to  travel with all the Covid guidelines.  But  it was all worth it. Yes, that was  a  great  moment. Then  of  course  the Red Carpet. Our Gangubai Kathiawadi was  the last film to be shown in the Gala  section, so  the red-carpet event was  quite something . The theatre where our premiere was held  was  the most spectacular  theatre I had  ever seen. There were  8,000 seats but we were allowed only 800 seats due  to  Covid restrictions. It was the  most spectacular theatre I’ve ever seen. The screen  was bigger than any I’ve seen in my  life.”

   Laughingly   he says he  couldn’t resist watching  Gangubai Kathiawadi with the Berlin audience. “When  the film started  I thought I’d  stay for a while and then sneak away, since I had already seen it  300 times.But I just couldn’t  take my eyes off. I am sorry but I was in  awe of  my own  film.The  most wonderful thing was  that just one hour after they opened the  boxoffice all 800 tickets  were sold out.It was  a spectacular  evening for  me.The whole chain of events—the fullmoon night, the rain, the sold-out tickets, ours being the  last  film of the Gala—all seemed providential.I then came to know  that there was an audience waiting to see Gangubai Kathiawadi.”

  The Berlin  experience  has given Bhansali confidence for  its Indian  release.  “Birju Maharaj’s , Lataji’s and my mother’s blessings are with  me  and my hard work. The audience at Berlin clapped at my song Dholida. They enjoyed the music songs  and  humour and  anger  of my film. They clapped  for 8 minutes after the  film was over.I introduced  my film to the  audience which I  was reluctant to do. Gangubai is  a film that resonates  in your  mind . It is an experience that  doesn’t need  any  explanation  or analysis.  You  watch it. You like it. Or you  don’t like it. Period.When I heard that  standing ovation in Berlin I got  my answer.They actually clapped  for 6-7 minutes nonstop. That isn’t  a small thing. It made all the pain and  effort  worth the while: the two  lockdows, the pandemic, the  recession.”

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