Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the director of the magnum opus film, Padmaavat, has finally opened up about the myriad of controversies that surrounded the film. From being attacked on the sets of the film in January 2017 to receiving death threats, Bhansali saw some trying times ahead of the film’s release. The director, for the first time since the making of the film, gives a remarkable response to those who have been protesting against Padmaavat.
In an interview with PTI, Sanjay Leela Bhansali said, “The protests were illogical, they had no reasoning and there was nothing to be discussed. It had reached an obnoxious level with people sitting with swords on national television and giving death threats. Even if I went on every channel on television saying there was nothing wrong in the film, they would not understand it. No amount of justification would have reached them or been heard.”
The film released on January 25 after a lot of hue and cry and nation-wide protests across northern states. Deeming Padmaavat the most anxious release of his life, the director is happy that despite hardships the film managed to see the light of the day. “It is just an answer to the anguish that we all went through including me, the actors and the technicians. All of us were not being heard even after repeatedly saying that there is nothing wrong in the film. I realised that the best way of going ahead and fighting this is to make the film that is in my mind,” said Bhansali.
During the peak of the protests, fringe outfits announced a bounty for Bhansali head and leading lady Deepika Padukone’s nose. The director agrees that it was mentally difficult to cope up with all the negativity. He said, “I know I was troubled, I know I was distracted but deep inside, I found the strength to make the film and not let this anguish and disturbance reflect on the screen. In the last few months, I was constantly correcting, making creative touches and taking the film to the next level. That’s the answer to all the objections that were based on rumours and a certain agenda that I could not understand.”
He further thanked the Mumbai Police for providing security to him and the actors and said, “There was no need for us to go around the town tom- tomming how honest and true we were. At the end, truth prevails.”
The film has collected around Rs 143 crores in its first week and is successfully running across the global as well. “(The response) shows that people had so much eagerness to see the film. I can only see love for the film... I knew deep down that the film was beautiful. There were anxious moments right from finishing it to getting the censors and to getting it into theatres... It was a relentless process. It was the most anxious release of my life for sure. I think it is the most anxious release in the history of Indian cinema. Lots of Rajput people have seen the film and they are saying this is our glory, this is celebrating us, our forefathers and ancestors and that there was nothing wrong in the film, and what the noise was all about?,” Bhansali said.
Bhansali also went on to narrate his special connection with the 16th century poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi. “It is also special because I did an opera in 2008 in Paris. It was living in my mind since then and I wanted to make it into a film,” he said about the opera that he directed, based on French composer Albert Roussel’s work from 1923. It premiered at the Theatre Du Chatelet in Paris and was a huge success.
With the film meeting success and hitting the screens, the director expressed relief and said, “It is a rare experience. I have never seen or heard of any filmmaker go through all this and yet survive and the film reach the theatres and be loved by the audience. So all said and done, it makes the film special.”