Sanjay Leela Bhansali believes the phenomenal audience response to Padmaavat is his answer to
those who have been protesting against the film. Finally opening up about the trouble he faced over the
release of the film, the director said he was deeply troubled but instead of reacting to the furore, which he realised would not make a difference, he focused on making the best possible film that he could.
Padmaavat, which released last week after facing nation-wide protests by Rajput groups led by the Karni Sena, has already become a blockbuster. Bhansali, who calls it the “most anxious release” of his
life, is happy that despite hardships, the film managed to reach theatres.
“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,” Bhansali told PTI in an interview here.
The director admitted that he found it mentally difficult to cope with the negativities surrounding the film but did not let it reflect on the screen. “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.”
The director said it was hard for him to fathom the threats that he and the leading lady Deepika Padukone received. “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.” Bhansali said he as a filmmaker chose to focus their energies on making it a once in a lifetime experience.
“There was no need for us to go around the town tom- tomming how honest and true we were. At the end, truth prevails,” he said thanking the Mumbai police for providing him and the actors with security. The film is doing well at the box office despite not getting a release in four states and Bhansali says it only proves that people were eager to watch it.
“(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 he had a special attachment to 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.
The director said it was a “rare experience” to see such support from the media, film fraternity and the audiences. “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.”