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Sanjay Leela Bhansali

My characters come from a different God: Bhansali


All Hindi films are essentially love stories, but in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's films, the love is more passionate, more difficult and therefore more engaging. His films may not always be successful. In fact, he says that he has seen far more failures than success, but his movies are always hotly debated because he colours them with his own hues. The director decodes love for TOI Crest.

Your characters are always incomplete in one way or the other. Do such characters fascinate you?

When you are incomplete you put in more energy to complete your life, and that process is where the real art form is. But if by incomplete you mean a person who is visually or hearing impaired, then I don't agree with your definition. That is a perception that has to change. My characters come from a different God, they have more difficult obstacles, their hurdles are higher, their path has more thorns, and they are in search of that God.

Do these characters make for more passionate and riveting love stories?

Yes, these are people who find it more difficult to get love, or give love, because they don't necessarily fall into the conventional mould of a beautiful girl or a beautiful man. I find these characters very fascinating because they also want to be in love. I am groping with these characters, because I feel somebody needs to listen to them. Somebody needs to communicate their story to the world. I want to see them finally achieve that love, or become a graduate which people thought was impossible (Black). I want to see the last glimpse of the married woman as she runs back to tell her husband that he is the right person and I also want to be at the opera theatre hearing Salman say, 'let her be happy' (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam). These are people whose love stories remain in my mind.

Have you ever been in love?

What makes you think I have never been in love? (Laughs)

Not saying so, just asking...

We are all in a perpetual state of love. You may get love, you may want love, you may not want to be in love, things may not work out... But no human being in this world - whether you are alone or whether you have a companion - not be in love. The basic characteristic of a heart and being a human being is that you have to love. That is your karma in this world.

Do you think love is elevating?

Not if it is demanding. In the conventional sense, love means to be able to just be happy and connect to a higher energy. That is why when you are in love, people say, "arre aapke chehre pe dikhta hai. " When that love becomes demanding, you start to lose its essence. To me love means being free of your own bondage and connecting to another soul.

Do you think that good looking people have more of a chance for everlasting love?

In the conventional sense, yes. Good looking people easily find partners and marriage proposals. They also become film stars (laughs). But for me there is nothing like good looking and bad looking. For me, it's just the eyes. If I look into her eyes and I know that there is something I connect with, I know that there is honesty. I actually don't know what a good looking person is.

It's usually about the symmetry...

Some of the most beautiful people to me are those with the wrong geometry. Mother Teresa is extremely beautiful and not because she is a saint. Her characteristics are very strange and that is what generates the power she had. Kajol is very beautiful and she does not have very symmetrically, conventionally beautiful features. Tanuja is as beautiful as Hema Malini. Looks are subjective and cannot be described mathematically. Then there are Smita Patil, Nandita Das and Seema Biswas. How would the math work there? But they all have a great aura.

What do you think is the biggest impediment to love?

One's own insecurities, wanting to possess the other and not understanding that love is a universal concept.

Is love best expressed through music, dance, or words?

By silence. When you don't have to say 'I love you', when you don't have to prove your love by singing a song, or express it through the body, that's two souls connecting. But if I have to choose between the three, I would say music.

Before doing 'Guzaarish', Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai had already shown sizzling screen chemistry in 'Dhoom 2' and 'Jodhaa Akbar'. Did this help in any way?

Yes, they already had an on-screen chemistry so they would just have to look at each other and I would get my scene. It would just come naturally. They are very comfortable, there are no egos floating between them, they are secure, he knows his strengths, and she knows her strengths. But most importantly, when I see them looking at each other, I feel instantly they are in love. Even if they had done 20 films, or if they had done no films, I would have still cast them, and I would have not made this film without them.

Since Hrithik plays a paraplegic, was it difficult to do a film in which the lead actor's space is so restricted?

Space is in the mind and mental space is limitless. An actor's space is not how much room he gets to run around in or how much room he gets to swing his arms and legs around, it's about how much room you create in the minds of the audience when you are performing, and the space that I have offered Hrithik in this film is limitless. It is so open and so vast, and that is why he has blossomed as an actor in this film.

You introduced music director Ismail Darbar with 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam', and Monty Sharma with 'Black', and now you've introduced yourself in 'Guzaarish'. Which has been the most tiring?

The other two. I'm not talking about talent, because they are immensely talented. It's just that sometimes it's tiring to make another person understand why you are trying to improve something that already sounds just right. I have mixed this album for nearly four months. Sometimes we have recorded and re-recorded one line, where the singer could do better, all day. I know that I may not be as talented as another music director, but I can do it with hard work and perseverance. I can't waste my time expressing to another person the importance of excelling or working hard to overcome their own limitations. If I am aware of my own limitations, then I can work towards overcoming them. I have worked on myself this time rather than other people.

Reader's opinion (3)

Manju RamananNov 22nd, 2010 at 14:21 PM

What a visual treat of a movie.Loved that love was celebrated in all its glory, in all its avataras without the sense of posessing the other..... a sublime experience.... a fact that comes forth in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's interview....

Neeraj BishtNov 20th, 2010 at 18:22 PM

sanjay a master of emotions ......

Anand BongirNov 20th, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Simply wonderful!

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