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Monday, November 05, 2007
Sanjay Leela Bhansali blends commercial cinema with art with his latest offering, Saawariya, where he introduces Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor. He is considered one of the best directors in the country, and he acknowledges this. More from the man with the guts to try something new.
Q. Are you nervous about your forthcoming release, Saawariya?
A. Absolutely not. I get nervous before making a movie, not after. I keep thinking, before I make a film, how it will look, what people will say, will it be better than my previous works, etc. All these thoughts make me nervous. However, the satisfaction I get after completing a film is immense. I do not get too excited with the success of a film, nor do I get too disappointed with its failure.
Q. Did the script demand fresh faces, or was there something else on your mind?
A. I have worked with stars in all my films till date. After Black, where I worked with Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee, I wondered to myself, "Now what?" I thought I could either make an offbeat film, or return to mainstream stuff. The appreciation I had received after Black could be sustained only if I got new actors for my next. I challenged myself – I had to make something that was different from all the movies I have directed so far, and so I took the first step towards Saawariya. The two of them – Ranbir and Sonam – were my assistant directors. However, when they came to work for me, I knew that they were here to act, not do anything else. I had also taken screen tests of both. Working with newcomers makes me feel young all over again.
Q. You had already gauged the talent of the two leads. When you first began work with them, what was your experience?
A. As far as I am concerned, both did not know how to act. I asked them to enact or impersonate their favourite hero and heroine. After the training in acting, I made them train in dancing. They have the talent, but I taught them how to use it. They were willing to learn – they did whatever I asked them to. This carried on for one and a half years, and then we started shooting. They were quite prepared by the end of that period. I used to get angry whenever they made a mistake, and the media has presented this anger in a different light. If I flew off the handle, it was understandable. I had spent one and a half years on them, so I had every right to be a perfectionist. If I ignore their faults because they are young, then they will make more mistakes as they get older. Both spent four years with me, and I did not them to think that they wasted their time and their career.
Q. What are your expectations from Ranbir and Sonam?
A. I would have never signed them on, if I did not see some talent in them. Both are going to go a long way – they are good looking and focused, talented, and willing to learn. It is very important to have intelligence these days, and these two have loads of it. They are not like other star kids – both of them are not arrogant because of their background. They do not want their parents to be embarrassed because of them, but to be proud of them. That is what makes both Ranbir and Sonam special.
Q. This movie has first-time actors, first-time music composer, and first-time singer. Don't you think you are taking a risk?
A. Isn't it a risk taking experienced ones as well? Talent is the only thing that a person brings with him. Experience comes with time, of course. If I had taken an experienced actor, or composer, or singer, I would not have been able to get enough time with them. These newcomers gave me two years of their time. Not only them, even older singers like Kunal and Shreya were there during the time of composing the music. The effort of those two years brought life into the music and songs of Saawariya. This movie is my dream, and everybody has helped me live it.
Q. Is there a reason why you gave Moti Sharma a chance with the music, instead of your favourite, Ismail Darbar?
A. I have worked with Moti in Devdas and Black earlier. Since there were new actors and new singers, I saw no harm in getting a new composer. I wanted fresh music, with passion and integrity. Ismail and I are very close, almost brothers, and that is why he would not take my work seriously, postponing things, etc. I did not want that to happen to this movie. When a person moves away from his work towards the world of glamour, I believe something starts missing from his work, something that used to make him stand apart at one point.
Q. New actors and huge expectations. You are a one-man show.
A. That is not true. The actors and singers may be new, but they have proved themselves. Ranbir and Sonam were born with stardom – I just taught them how to act. A big star and a good actor are two different things. My responsibility was to make them good actors. This is the first Indian film, where the entire movie has been shot in a set. Omung has made the whole set so beautifully. He took this responsibility very seriously. The music had to be better than the music in 'Khamoshi' and 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam', and that was Moti's responsibility. Rishi Kapoor and Anil Kapoor have had their share of stardom, and it became the responsibility of their children to be better than their fathers. We were under a lot of pressure to be better in everything, and we all dealt with that pressure positively.
Q. Like Kamal Amrohi, you too are a perfectionist. Or so it is believed.
A. I don't know. I believe each human being is a perfectionist in his or her own way. I still faint when I watch 'Pakeezah'. Each shot has Kamal Amrohi's passion and arrogance, as well as his self-confidence. I can make something like that only after I have made five films or so. My ability to tolerate, my patience – these are my biggest virtues. I can tolerate you till I convince you. I cannot compromise on my movies, because a movie is for keeps, it is immortal. I don't want to see my own work, 50 years later, and feel that I was not honest with it.