Tuesday, February 21, 2023

You need to get your facts right, you have to be a little careful,' says Sanjay Leela Bhansali of making historicals in India


According to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, "Most of it is how I see the period," his films are primarily his perspective and imagination.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali, a master filmmaker who has made films like Padmavat and Bajirao Mastani, among others, that were inspired by historical events, recently talked about how he makes period dramas and does his research when he is "working on a historical in our country."

On Saturday, Bhansali and Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos met in Mumbai to discuss their upcoming web series, Heeramandi, which stars Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditi Rao Hydari, Richa Chadha, Sharmin Segal, and Sanjeeda Shaikh. The teaser for the series was released by the two of them.

In his conversation with Mini Mathur, Bhansali explained that when making films based on historical events, one must "be a little careful" and "get your facts right."

The director was honest when Mini asked him how he researches the wonderful, sometimes unbelievable worlds he creates in his movies. He said that he finds research "boring" and that most of it comes from his imagination.

"In our country, you have to be a little careful when working on a historical. This concludes my research, so yes, you must correct your facts. The majority of it is my imagination and my perception of the time period. After seeing the architecture, I start imagining my own carpets, roofs, and additional pillars. So research is finished, yet not nitty gritty exploration. Research bores me a lot. I have no intention of making a documentary as a filmmaker. The director stated, "I want all of my impressions—childlike impressions, grown-up impressions, heartbroken lovers' impressions—to come to the film rather than documented research."

The filmmaker then elaborated on the process by which he begins making the film after shooting a music video. I begin by writing a song. I imagine the entire song unfolding when the song falls into place. My movies have a lot of music in them. A lot of people are right when they say that music doesn't have to be in every movie. I'm referring to the significant production of socially relevant films. You do not require music, but I do. That is all I know about music: I grew up listening to it. So music begins… that is my examination, creative mind of how that music would occur, of how this lady would look, how well does she talk, what is the discourse, is the exchange moving me, are the emotional scenes rousing me, are the sensational scenes motivating me. People who say, "I did a lot of research," "it is my take on it," and "they are right in the way they do it" make me feel uninterested. However, I simply believe that I begin to float and take off.

Padmaavat by Bhansali was mired in controversy. Protests broke out while the movie was being made and before it was shown in theaters. Several Rajput groups said that the movie was "distorting history," which Bhansali repeatedly denied. A disclaimer was added by the filmmakers after some individuals made the claim that the film promoted Sati.

He responded, "Ya!!" when Mini Mathur, the show's host, asked him further if the filmmaker had invented the nuances and the context for them. Because people have seen it in a documentary or television series if it is real, but they have not seen this. What does Devdas look like? He is clearly a fictional character, but how does he compare to Mastani or Bajirao? I can do whatever I want because no one has seen Bajirao Mastani. Because it happened 300 to 400 years ago, nobody has seen them. So, what can I give them that makes them feel like they're watching a contemporary film? If we had made Gangubai or Bajirao fifty years ago, it would have been a different movie. Therefore, there is a modern approach to filmmaking—the audience must connect with it. They must have a connection to this historical or period work. Even Gangubai, which I believe was set in the 1940s and 1950s, was a movie. For thirty years, I have lived one lane away from the brothels, next to them. I knew inside and out what those lanes smelled like, what their faces were like, and looked like. As a result, all I needed was my imagination and some research. You can't continue to copy and make notes; making notes completely bores me.

In addition, Bhansali stated that the industry had advised him against making Gangubai Kathiawadi due to the film's “female-centric” nature.

I was advised not to make Gangubai by people. It features a female lead and is primarily about women. There is no female-led subject in India. The ticket booth has never worked. She plays a prostitute, so there is no hero. All the tick marks you would put to comprehend the crowd and the situation, I have checked every one of some unacceptable boxes. Still, it worked. That's the belief, "the director said.

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