Apr 172013


Film-maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali confesses that there were “relationships that didn’t work out” in his life. He admits that his life may be “unfulfilled, but he isn’t unhappy”.

Is it true that earlier, you were apprehensive about apportioning responsibility in your production house?

I am more adventurous now. I am more fearless as an artist. I want directors from outside to bring in their aesthetics into my production house. For example, Prabhudheva made Rowdy Rathore and my sister Bela made Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi for me, which I couldn’t have directed and which I am very proud of. I directed an opera in Paris in 2008. Now I want to do more of the things that I can do if I have a team around me. Today, I am working far harder than I did five years ago. I put in nearly 20 hours every day. And I am enjoying every bit of it.

With Rowdy Rathore you have set a trend for cheesy C-grade titles like Revolver Rani and Bullet Raja and Rajkumar Rambo. How accurate is that?

I’ve grown up in Bhuleshwar (in Mumbai). I’d pass through the red-light area every day, looking at those theatres with those eccentric names. I’ve grown up with the rowdies and the rajas all around me. There was humour in my life and even my own family was quite filmy. It’s a wonderful thing to go back to these titles. I am very proud of Rowdy Rathore. The day I titled it Rowdy Rathore was the day the film’s fate changed. I love the sound of it. And I am glad other directors have started using these massy titles. There’s nothing cheesy about them; people erupt with ecstasy at such titles.

Do you miss having that someone special in your life?

No, I have chosen the life I lead. There were relationships that didn’t work out. I am basically a nomadic loner. And I am not capable of moving ahead with the baggage of a relationship. I’ve seen relationships traumatise people. As a child, I’d helplessly watch relationships crumble around me. Every individual is a sum-total of his past experiences. Maybe that’s why I am wary of relationships.

If you had to change anything in life what would it be?

Nothing at all. All the pain, suffering, love, passion and conflict have made me what I am. I make passionate love stories because I don’t have love in my life. My art completes my life. My life may be unfulfilled but I am not unhappy.

Is it possible to make good friends in the film industry?

I think so. But as a film-maker, I often find actors feel betrayed when you don’t cast them repeatedly and the friendship ends. That is very limiting and hurtful for any film-maker. Also, there’s a tendency among some actors to make fun of the people they call their friends. But then, cruelty is part of all human beings. But yes, people in the industry do stand by one another; as long as it’s not work-based.

Are Aishwarya Rai and Rani Mukerji your friends?

They are very dear to me. So are Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala. And Salman Khan is one person I’d always consider very close to my heart. But, to me, friendship doesn’t mean sitting with people every day.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2013.

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