Sanjay Leela Bhansali celebrates his 55th birthday today. Having observed his interviews for the last odd 15 years, it appears he has been a lone wolf. Having experienced multiple disappointments in people, he detached himself from the all the social anarchy and immersed himself into his passion for filmmaking.
Call it irony or something else, the man who always led a loveless life was the man who redefined unrequited love on the celluloid. If you meet the filmmaker in person, he appears to be a quiet, ordinary man, with gleaming, expressive eyes, innocence that of a child and knowledge that of a genius.
Having made as many as nine films in two decades, here are some of his most spectacular pieces of work-
5. BAJIRAO MASTANI (2015)
A large, dramatic, romantic triangle, where a fearless warrior’s undying love for a woman from an alien land threatens to derail his relationship with his first wife, this magnum opus was Bhansali’s dream for almost a decade. This mega-budgeted love saga in 2005, the film finally arrived at the cinemas in 2015. Although mildly criticized for showcasing a brave Maratha warrior, Bajirao, as a helpless, obsessed lover, who perpetually pines for Mastaani, this saga was powered by its lead actors, who sank their teeth into their respective characters.
4. DEVDAS (2002)
Burning passion and subsequent heartbreak were the two critical ingredients of this remake of the 1955 classic of the same name, which itself was an adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel, DEVDAS. This film also marked Bhansali’s foray into the world of grandeur and opulence, with lavish sets and beautiful locales. But above all, it is arguably one of Shahrukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit’s most fleshed out performances yet.
3. HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM (1999)
Bhansali’s second film and first commercial success, and described himself as the closest film to his heart, Hum Dil played on the exact tropes as Devdas, albeit with less melodrama and grandeur. Here, Rai played a feisty motormouth, Nandini, who’s torn between her lover Sameer (Salman Khan) and husband Vanraj (Ajay Devgn). All the three actors made pain, anguish and heartbreak entirely palpable and this was also the time when Khan and Devgn chose performances over puerileness.
2. BLACK (2005)
Being his first film that wasn’t a love story. There was a pain, there was anguish, but there was happiness too. A heartwarming relationship between a teacher (Amitabh Bachchan) and his physically disabled student (Rani Mukherjee) and how their bond gains momentum and strength over the years. Black was not exactly a masterpiece but indeed a refreshing breath of fresh air for everyone back in 2005, when in the name of cinema, we only had repetitive love sagas and mindless action potboilers.
1. KHAMOSHI- THE MUSICAL (1996)
SLB’s first and finest film, this was an underrated and undeserving failure. The biggest reason being the audiences unwilling to accept Nana Patekar in the role of a mute parent to Manisha Koirala ( Both played a married couple in Agnisaakshi in the same year). “Oye Nana, dialogue bol”, shouted a mocking crowd at the Eros Theatre, when Patekar expressed his joy using his hands and expressions, with Salman giving words to his actions. That was the last time Bhansali visited a cinema hall. Its failure made him expectedly upset, but today, even his harshest critics call this as his best.
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