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Sanjay Leela Bhansali Opens Up On The Ordeal & The Triumph

Sanjay Leela Bhansali

In An Interview With Subhash K Jha, 

Padmaavat or Padmaavati..It has earned more than 100 crores during the first weekend.It is marching towards 200 crores.What are  you feelings at the moment?

(Sighs deeply) After what  have I  been through, it’s like being allowed  to finally breathe easily. I can’t even begin to express the relief and gratitude.

Sanjay, how did you get  over this period of  vicious attack?Anyone  else in your place would’ve crumbled?

Very honestly, I really don’t know  where the strength came from. I guess it just comes to us when we need to be  strong. I really don’t  know how I got through this period. But after all of this, to have the film release finally in spite of all odds, and most importantly, to  have audiences flocking see it in spite of the threats…I can’t tell you what a relief and joy it is. Just hearing about the collections washes  away all my pain of the last 8-9 months…well, maybe  not all of it.

I can’t imagine  how you will ever forget being assaulted in Rajasthan and then  fringe hoodlums  demanding your head, Deepika’s nose?

It was  crazy.Through all of this, 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.I would also  like to thank Ajit Andhare and my co-producers the whole Viacom 18 Motion pictures team who  never stopped believing in me  even during the darkest phase.And my own friends and team Mahavir Jain, Shobha Sant, Chetan Deolkar. What  would I have done  without them?

Did  you at any point think  of just giving up?

Never . Not at all.  Never! That would’ve been the end  of me as a filmmaker.

Not an even after being assaulted?

Not even then. 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.

Coming to the film, please clarify once and for all whether  it is history or not?

It is based on the poem Padmawat by Malik Mohammed Jayasi. But it also has figures and incidents  taken from actual history. I’ve been 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.

 So is  the  film at all connected  to 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 is getting incredible reviews for his villainous act.Were you at all unsure of his boxoffice status after 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 given in  my film.

It’s  being predicted that this will be the biggest hit of your career?

What can I say? God has been very kind. I never thought  my film would get into  all this trouble. When it did, I never for a moment stopped believing that I had done no wrong.And now , to get this approval of the audience…it is very very reassuring.

 Did  you ever think the  film may never get released?

I was always sure it will . How could all my hard work go to waste?I’ve  toiled over  every moment of the  film.

Considering what  you’ve been through would you ever go back to history?

Oh , any time! I would go back to history if I want to . One can’t allow oneself to be bullied into abandoning one’s dream.

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