I am more hard-working than gifted: Sanjay Leela BhansaliMay 9, 2006 IANS
Mumbai, May 9 (IANS) After winning every major award for "Black", director Sanjay Leela Bhansali is now moving ahead with "Saawariya", a musical love story featuring two star kids - Rishi-Neetu Kapoor's son Ranbir and Anil Kapoor's daughter Sonam.
"For me to jump from 'Black' into a tender musical love story is an exciting challenge. I have never made something like this before. I have never made a film with newcomers before," says Bhansali, confident that the new pair will repeat the Salman Khan-Aishwarya Rai success in "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam".
"If I hadn't seen the same potential as Salman and Aishwarya in Ranbir and Sonam, I wouldn't have signed them. I believe in the two kids as much as any actor I have worked with."
Bhansali insists that a love story can be daring, too, and describes "Saawariya" as completely different in ambience, scent, sound and colour from "Devdas" and "Black".
"A lot of people are offended by my opulent style of storytelling. To each one his own style. And we shouldn't challenge that style. I am open to constructive criticism. But arbitrary criticism doesn't affect me," he says in this interview with IANS.
Like "Devdas", "Black" has walked away with every popular award. Which one makes you prouder?
You have to love every film with equal intensity. When I was making "Khamoshi - The Musical" and "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam", I was as elated as I was during "Devdas" and "Black". Today, I am consumed by "Saawariya".
They are all a labour of love. Just because "Black" has won more awards than the rest it cannot become my favourite.
Were you surprised by the mass acceptance of "Black"?
I certainly was. And I can't thank the audience enough for giving the film such a warm hearted response. The awards were unexpected.
After "Devdas", which some people called lavish while others thought it was garish, everyone thought it was suicidal to do something dark... I just wanted to go ahead and do it.
I remember how wary the market was.
Distributors were a little apprehensive about the ticket sales. But all of us who worked on the film were sure of what we wanted to do. When the standing ovations at the end of screenings all over the country happened, I knew I had made the right decision.
That, and the teacher at the deaf-and-mute school Behroze Vacha rushing out of the film with tears in her eyes... these were my reward... and the beginning of the awards. Then there was the Times' spiritual awareness award.
Prakash Jha went on television to say he was disappointed when he heard the deaf and blind Michelle McNelly's voice-over in "Black".
Really? Hellen Keller, on whose life "Black" is based, wrote stories remember? The deaf and blind have an inner voice that talks to them through the sign language, which is their means of communication with the outside world.
Two boys from the Helen Keller Institute, Pradeep and Zamir, write essays... How do they do it? If Mr. Prakash Jha feels the deaf and blind are mindless people, then I have nothing to say. He is a respected and senior filmmaker. I would like to respect his opinion.
Today when you hear Sajid Nadiadwala or Boney Kapoor say they wished they had made "Black" how do you feel?
I wish they had told me before. Jokes apart, I couldn't have hoped for a better producer than Anshuman Swamy and Applause Films. Yes, there were people negotiating to produce "Black" before Applause. But they saw it as that niche-quickie. I don't believe in making quickies. Even when I look back at Basu Chatterjee's sweet light films like "Rajnigandha" and "Choti Si Baat" I don't see them as quickies.
Both "Devdas" and "Black" were audacious in their creativity. How daring are you in your new film, which is love story?
Why can't a love story be daring? Besides, I have never made a film to prove a point. It is not necessary for the characters to be extraordinary for the film to be daring. I didn't make "Black" to be daring.
I wanted to tell the story of "Black". Now I want to tell the story of "Saawariya". For me to jump from "Black" into a tender musical love story is an exciting challenge. I have never made something like this before. I have never made a film with newcomers before.
Will "Saawariya" take you as far away from "Black" as "Black" took you away from "Devdas"?
That's for you to decide. It is very difficult to comment on my own work. But yes "Saawariya" is a completely different ambience, scent, sound and colour from "Devdas" and "Black".
Will Ranbir Kapoor-Sonam Kapoor be as magical as Salman Khan-Aishwarya Rai in "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam"?
That depends entirely on how people like them individually and as a couple. But yes, if I hadn't seen the same potential as Salman and Aishwarya in Ranbir and Sonam, I wouldn't have signed them. I believe in the two kids as much as any actor I have worked with.
At the end of the day, I need to convert my imagination into cinema. For that I need the right actors. The performances have always been highlights in my cinema. I'd never compromise on the cast.
A truckload of awards for "Saawariya"?
I don't make films for awards. I work extremely hard, much more than people think. I'd say I am more hardworking than gifted. If someone else gets the awards I'd be stimulated enough to get up and applaud and try to do better next time. I haven't got a single National Award so far. But that doesn't make me feel inadequate in any way.
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