Birthday love: Master of masterpieces Sanjay Leela Bhansali


 There is one name in Bollywood which all Bollywood stars wait with bated breath to see come up on their phones: Sanjay Leela Bhansali. He is a filmmaker who needs no introduction; he doesn’t just create films, he creates artistic visions as a backdrop that the actors and actresses bring to life with their talent. From the storylines to the music, Bhansali’s films are wonders to watch and he enthralls his audience into this world of epic romances and more recently historical romances too. As Bhansali’s birthday approaches, takes a look at films directed by the Bolllywood wizard and the spells he has cast over the audience.

‘Khamoshi: The Musical’ (1996)
‘Khamoshi’ tells the story of Annie (Manisha Koirala ) who is the daughter of Joseph (Nana Patekar) and Flavy (Seema Biswas), a deaf and mute couple living in Goa. Annie is able to speak and hear and loves music but after the death of her brother Sam, she loses her passion for music and singing as a young girl. Once she grows up, she meets Raj (Salman Khan) and falls in love with him as he reintroduces her into the world of music. The film was a game changer in the industry with big musical films and edgy storylines being bought on the big screen by Bhansali. The director won Filmfare’s Critic Award for Best Movie with Koirala winning best actress at the 1996 Star Screen Award.

‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ (1999)
With the hottest couple in Bollywood at the time Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starred in ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ which had some fantastic artistic shots filmed in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Nandini (Rai Bachchan) is the daughter of classical music maestro Pandit Darbar (Vikram Gokhale). Sameer (Khan) arrives at Pandit’s doorstep, keen to learn about classical Indian music and stays with the Darbar family. Nandini takes an instant dislike to Sameer and the two prank each and soon realise that the love each other. However, her father finds out and is furious – he has already set up her marriage to Vanraj (Ajay Devgan). The film won awards across the board and music director Ismail Darbar was applauded for the soundtrack that is still played to this day.

‘Black’ (2005)
‘Black’ was probably Bhansali’s most controversial and different film which revolved around blind deaf girl Michelle McNally (Rani Mukerji) and her relationship with her teacher Debraj Sahai (Amitabh Bachchan). Michelle loses her eyesight and hearing at the age of two and becomes isolated in a world of darkness. She grows up frustrated by her condition, making her prone to lashing out and leaving her parents, Paul and Catherine scared at wits’ end. They meet Debraj who is an elderly alcoholic teacher for the deaf and blind, who is rather eccentric in his methods. He uses unconventional and rather harsh methods for Michelle’s long-term benefit. Bhansali is a die-hard fan of Bachchan so this film was a labour of love for him with the film’s subject matter being a closely guarded secret until release. The film created an all time record at Filmfare awards, winning 11 awards with Bhansali winning best director.

‘Devdas’ (2002)
If there is one director who can get two of the biggest powerhouse actresses on the big screen, it is Bhansali. ‘Devdas’ bought together Madhuri Dixit Nene and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan on the big screen creating some sizzling chemistry. ‘Devdas’ told the story of Devdas (Shah Rukh Khan), a wealthy law graduate to returns home to India to marry his childhood love Paro (Rai Bachchan). Little does he know that his family have a different plan for him and they reject the love match leading to Devdas’ turning to alcohol for solace and living with prostitute Chadramukhi (Dixit Nene). Bhansali managed to get new levels of acting out of the Bollywood heavyweights and the film is still regarded as one of the 100 best foreign language films in the world. The song and dance sequences were record breaking with Maar Daala and Dola Re Dola being musical and visual masterpieces.

‘Bajirao Mastani’ (2015)
‘Bajirao Mastani’ has to be called an epic historical love story and it was bought to life with Bhansali’s talents. Starring the hottest couple in Bollywood Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, ‘Bajirao Mastani’ tells the story of Bajirao (Singh) who is nominated Peshwa, the equivalent to modern day prime minister. 10 years later, Bajirao’s wife Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra) is visited by her widowed friend Bhanu whose husband is executed by Bajirao for spying. She curses Kashibai and says she will yearn for her husband the same as her. Whilst away on battle, Bajirao is visited at his tent by Mastani (Padukone) from Bundelkhan which is under attack. Impressed by her warrior skills, Bajirao assists with his army and defeats the invaders. Mastani and Bajirao feel an attraction towards each other and he gifts her his dagger, a symbol of marriage in the region. Unaware Bajirao returns to his wife Kashi and is pursed by Mastani to his home, who arrives to claim her marital rights. The film had spectacular sets and was shot on location in Madhya Pradesh. Rajasthan and Gujarat. The sets were often built from scratch with the set for the song Deewani Mastani being turned into a museum after filming.

Bhansali is a maestro when it comes to filmmaking and these films are just a small sample of his talents. His ability to envision his films with great detail being attached to each scene, means that he can weave a masterpiece on the big screen. We wish Sanjay Leela Bhansali a huge happy birthday for this year and look forward to his upcoming releases.

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