Inside the Mind of Sanjay Leela Bhansali


Inside the Mind of Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Illustration: Akshita Monga


igh. It’s been a rough few months.

My good friend, Arnab Goswami who watched Padmavati (or Padmavat, even I can’t keep track of the names anymore) even before the censor board, played a clip on his channel. In it, a man announced a bounty of 1 crore for anyone who burnt Deepika alive. Then the next guy came in and announced 5 crore for anyone who beheaded me and Deepika. The next guy upped the bid to 10 crore. It was like watching ISIS have an IPL auction. I was shocked beyond belief. Is that all my life is worth?! Jesus fucking Christ, the economy has indeed dipped over the past few quarters, but this is low!


I still had it better than poor Shahid. After being ignored by the audience and award shows for his brilliant performances, Shahid Kapoor is now also being ignored by fringe groups issuing death threats. Nothing this man does is ever going to be enough, is it?

The producers have been quite supportive of me in the media but I can sense their passive aggressiveness in WhatsApp chats. “Why do you always have to create controversy, Sanjay! Every movie you make — Ram-Leela, Jodhaa Akbar, Bajirao Mastani, now Padmavati!” I was like, “I didn’t even make Jodhaa Akbar, that was Ashu,” but they don’t care. One expensive filmmaker to them is like the other.

At times, I wonder what I could have done differently? I thought I had this figured out when I released that video after being “inspired” by Karan Johar. I mean, let’s face it, his was a bigger crime. He cast a Pakistani actor in his movie. Not only have I not done that, I went further and showed a foreign Islamic ruler as a savage villain, when in fact he is not! I also cleared out the rumours around the dream sequences. To tell you the truth, ever since the controversy started, even I don’t get any dream sequences when I sleep. Maybe the video didn’t work out because I didn’t wear a black shirt against a pitch-black background. Karan is right, black makes you look thin.

I must let everyone know that I have nothing against the Karni Sena. Mostly because if I do, my life could be in trouble.

People say I distorted history when I made Bajirao Mastani, they have again said I have distorted history with Padmavati. This brings back nightmares from school, when I always flunked history. To all young students who think, “When will quadratic equations ever help me in life?”, well, you never know. For the first time, I had to work with more historians and researchers than lamp-makers and interior designers.

I must let everyone know that I have nothing against the Karni Sena. Mostly because if I do, my life could be in trouble. If they want to protect the honour of women by issuing threats to other women, it is totally their call. What can I say, even I was slapped and roughed up some time back. The last time I felt so bad was when I was tracking the collection for Saawariya.

After these intense few weeks, I am fed up of this nonsense. I must have given more explanations than the people who carried out demonetisation. People outraging over it had not even seen the film, but wanted me beheaded. Everyone wanted a free private screening. Film hai ya One Plus ka invite?

I really should take some time off after this to make more meaningful cinema, where cars fly around, the hero beats up 50 people to pulp with his bare hands, there is an item song and sexist joke every three minutes. Making a historical movie in India is a lot like being James Franco in 127 Hours. You start thinking it’s going to be epic, but then disaster strikes… And you’re all alone, as you hopelessly wait for someone to rescue you.