On a new terrain

Published On: 2018-02-03

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On a new terrain


Source: Deccan H 

Date: November 21, 2010 


He is one filmmaker who is passionate about his craft; his sixth film in 15 years, Guzaarish, has just released and choreographer, writer, filmmaker and composer, Sanjay Leela Bhansali is charged as always. We begin by discussing the new terrain he is trying out — music. In Indian cinema, very few filmmakers have composed music for their own films. Although he had composed one song (Thode badmaash ho tum) for Saawariya, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has now composed the entire soundtrack of Guzaarish. What made him take the step? “I just felt from deep inside that I should do the music this time,” he smiles, almost dismissively. “If I do feel that kind of urge again in a future film, I might compose again. I am a guy who loves music, but I am not going to keep composing for every film of mine!” he says decisively, refusing to gratify my curiosity about whether compositions had came to him for situations in every one of his earlier films. “Look, I have not learnt music. I took credit for thode badmaash ho tum because it was my creation!” he stresses. “I cannot rob anyone of due credit, and that includes me!” The music of Guzaarish, except for the title-song whose mukhda was made in 2003 when the subject of this film was not even conceived, has been made in a very unorthodox way. “When I first started looking at this story, I began coming up with several tunes that could be right. It’s another matter that we finally used only my 2003 tune and made the rest afresh!” he says candidly. Fascinatingly, Bhansali even tells you that most songs were composed, written, altered, rejected and finalised on the shooting set itself. Most others were written in his office, while the screenplay was being written as well. “My music has taken birth alongside the story. Shail Hada, my music assistant who had sung the title-song of Saawariya, was the best thing because through his seasoned vocals I could know exactly how the song would sound,” he says. Many of the songs were recorded live as the film is shot in Sync Sound. “Shail would be singing the song and Hrithik Roshan would be enacting it right there, as in the days when recording studios did not exist. We recorded separate versions for the album.” 


The orchestration, programming and mixing also followed a trial and error process for months. An eclectic bunch of playback singers came in, from Shail and new voices like Vibhavari, Harshdeep and Francois to the seasoned KK, Sunidhi Chauhan and Kunal Ganjawala. But his own Devdas discovery, Shreya Ghoshal, is missing. “My songs have all come from the heart, nothing is calculated. Shreya has reached a pinnacle and her not singing in my film where no song needed her will not make a difference. I was only the zariya for her destiny,” says Bhansali, who has dedicated the album to his idols Lata Mangeshkar and late composer Jaidev, who with many others, has enriched his life since he came to be aware of things. 


The film’s title, Guzaarish (plea or request) is clearly about euthanasia, right? “Yes,” he says. “But my story only spotlights the issue, which I feel very strongly about personally, in a gentle way. I know that answers cannot come fast, but we have to think about such issues.” He is happy about choosing a subject that has never been dealt with in a mainstream film before in Hindi cinema. “But I have tackled the film with a smile and a light mood. I have made the film entertaining. In fact Guzaarish is my brightest and lightest film.” Bhansali worked on the script for 18 months and says, “My film is mainstream in terms of budgets, cast and audience and I had to make sure that I did not hurt anyone but evoked a debate.” He points out that without star-clout, such themes will not make any impact on the audience or society. “And at least till my screenplay reaches the interval point, I do not start casting my actors.” 


In this case, he knew that Hrithik was ideal to play the central character and no one else. “We need good actors and good actors need roles like this. Just as Amitabh Bachchan is the greatest actor we have had, and he was a must for Black. With such great actors, when you throw challenges at them, they throw a challenge back to you as a filmmaker.” Of course, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, doing her third film with him, is very special too. So what is his criteria for choosing subjects? “It should make an impression on my soul and touch my heart. And yes, great cinema need not be about changing society, because cinema is about entertainment. At the same time, catharsis of our emotions is also necessary. Honest, courageous and fearless cinema like Bandini is not made today using the audiences’ taste as an excuse. But why would they watch a bad movie and not watch a good one? When you make something substandard, you demean the intelligence of people.” Bhansali wants the audience to take away something from the movie, he adds, “Guzaarish makes you think about how these strong people who, instead of turning bitter, evil or negative, walk ahead and make their lives beautiful.” And what about his temper tantrums on the sets? “I passionately live every moment from conception to release of the film. I do not get angry now — it’s pointless because not everyone can share that passion for excellence.”



My characters come from a different God: Bhansali


Date: November 21, 2010 

Courtesy: Times Crest 

By: Indu Mirani 


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.