Sanjay Leela Bhansali: Journey from being called an Art-director to the most well-renowned director

Khevna.P.Shah, INN/Bangalore

@Shahkhevna1, @Infodeaofficial

Once called art director is now a well-known director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s journey through
the Bollywood industry had many ups and downs. He is known for his aesthetic and largen-
than-life sets, eternal music, unique storyline, royal costumes, and iconic dialogues.
Khamoshi: The musical starring Salmaan Khan, Manish Koirala and Nana Patekar was Sanjay
Leela Bhansali’s directional debut movie. This film almost erased the line between entertainer
and Arthouse work. Though the movie wasn’t a commercial success, it was critically acclaimed
and said to be one of the best works of Salmaan Khaan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Failure of
his film labeled him as the Art director, which plunged him into depression.

After the failure of Khamoshi: The musical in 1996, he signed Salman Khan for his next movie,
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, released in the year 1999. This marked a huge success in
Bhansali’s journey. The audience loved the romantic side of Salmaan Khan. The story was
loosely based on a Gujarati play Shetal ne Kathe and an adaptation from Maitreyi Devis’s Na
Hanyate was a tale of devotional love.
The movie that gave us the biggest hit song, Dola Re Dola, with the iconic duo of Madhuri Dixit
and Aishwarya Rai dancing to the beats of it, Devdas was Bhansali’s second hit in the box office
after Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. This movie was the official remake of Dilip Kumar’s iconic
movie with the same name, Devdas It took 2 and half years for the music director Ismail Darbar
to compose the music of the film. Starring Shah Ruk Khan, Madhuri Dixit, and Aishwarya Rai,
Devdas premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for BAFTA.
After two consecutive successes, Bhansali’s released Black in the year 2005 marked a hat-trick.
The film starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherji in lead was praised by the critics and the
audience fell in love with their performances. Inspired by Helen Keller’s life, Bhansali wanted to
make a story revolving around a blind person’s struggling which was still an explored subject in
the industry.

The hat-trick success dint last long and in 2007, Saawariya marked the downfall of the director.
Even though Saawariya was the first Bollywood movie to be released by a Hollywood studio-
Sony Pictures, it was not critically acclaimed nor appreciated much by the audience. The movie
was based on Dostoevsky’s White Night, this movie sets an example for a brilliant production
design and use of colour in cinema.
Similarly, Guzaarish, starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in the lead in the year 2010
was not liked by the audience but was critically acclaimed. This movie told its story through
costumes, sets, and performance dealing with the moroseness of death. Though Hrithik’s
performance was appreciated by the critics.


In 2013, Gooliyon ki Rasleela Ram-Leela marked the comeback of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, with
Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone in the lead. This film was a humongous success, with
lively songs like Nagada Sang Dhol and a tragic love story which was loved by the audience. It
is also said to be the screen-adaption of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, questioning the limits
of love and its consequences.

With the same cast as Ram-Leela along with Priyanka Chopra, Bajirao Mastani was released in
the year 2015. This film played an essential role in establishing Sanjay Leela Bhansali as a
Brand. Again after Dola Re Dola, two iconic actresses Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra
gave us the mesmerizing moves in Pinga along with the sweet voice of Shreya Ghosal. This
was a dream project of Bhansali, initially casting Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, and Kareena
Kapoor in the 2000s. He received the national award along with nationwide praise for Bajirao-

In 2018, Padmavat, starring Shahid Kapoor, Ranveer Sing, and Deepika Padukone was
released amidst heavy protests. This film proved that cinema is a director’s medium, it was

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s vision backed by the star-power of the leading actors that contributed to
its success.
Over the years Bhansali has given us nervous hits, and now the audience are eagerly waiting
for his next hit film.


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