Sanjay Leela Bhansali has arguably the most recognisable directorial signature in the Hindi film industry today. The auteur’s grandly scaled films (Devdas, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela) are replete with grand sets, eye-widening shot compositions and a highly dramatic interplay of human emotions with a tragic culmination. The expertly tossed amalgamation of ingredients in Bajirao Mastani deservedly won Bhansali the National Award for Best Director this year. The director stated, “In my entire 25-year journey, I have never sensed this level of satisfaction.”
Bajirao Mastani was Bhansali’s dream project that he said he “nurtured for 12 years.” He fictionalised the 300-year-old love story between Bajirao Peshwa (Ranveer Singh) and Mastani (Deepika Padukone) as they fought against social mores. He deftly walked the tightrope balance – neither alienating our affections for the lovers nor sidelining Bajirao’s first wife Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra). He has that rare gift for bringing viewers up close to his character’s emotions – whether it in the pulse-pounding immediacy of the war scenes or in intimate scenes like the one where Singh blows out the candles after his wife banishes him from her quarters.
By now, opulent sets, like the one for the ‘Deewani Mastaani’ song have become his stylistic cornerstone. “The budgets of my films stimulate me, it gives me the madness to achieve more … to maybe prove a point to the world or get more love,” he said in a self analytical mode. “I don’t make films for money or fame. It is a part of a personal expression; I want to live every moment, every emotion, with every character.”