Dear Sanjay Leela Bhansali,
In the last two decades you devoted to the Indian film industry, you have made some outstanding films with concepts many filmmakers would not even like to touch. You made ‘Khamoshi: The Musical’ in which two prominent characters of the film were deaf and mute. The way you showed their journey, it turned our eyes moist. Then came ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, a love-triangle that stole our hearts. We still cry while watching the song ‘Tadap Tadap’.
After two successful ventures, you opted to make a film on a grand scale. We are talking about ‘Devdas’ that once again touched the right chords of our hearts. With ‘Black’ came a strong message that you dream it and you achieve it. Though ‘Saawariya’ didn’t do well, you gave Bollywood two most talented actors.
In ‘Guzaarish’, you introduced us to the term ‘euthanasia’, and with ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela’ , the eternal love story of Romeo-Juliet was brilliantly Indianised. Your last outing as a director gave us ‘Bajirao Mastani’ in which you brought the love story of a warrior king alive on the big screen.
The day you announced ‘Padmavati’, we knew only you could do justice to history and the vision needed for this massive project had only Bhansali written all over it.
As the shoot of this magnum opus began, we waited for one leaked image or a video from the sets but got harsh reality instead. It made us feel miserable about what happened with you. It wasn’t just a slap on your face, it was a slap on each one of us who assumed that we are secure while doing our jobs the way we want to. I still remember discussing with my colleague what you must be going through. It really shattered us and our anger driven hearts further pained to see such an event unfolding in front of us .
I salute you for not letting this be a hurdle in making a film you believed in. You went on to make ‘Padmavati’ and did not bow down to these fringe groups who chose to take law into their hands and restore to violence. It was almost 6 months plus of silence until ‘Padmavati’ trailer hit us and we were left speechless. Those who remained silent all this while rose again from their wonderland to protest against the release of the film.
Now with only 20 days left for the film to release, there have already been numerous threats to PIL’s filed to letters written to the PM and what not. Why is this protest taking place? Just because a rumour about a romantic scene between Rani Padmavati and Sultan Alauddin Khilji was doing the rounds. Because in real life Deepika and Ranveer are rumoured to be dating hence the assumption that in reel too there will be a romantic scene between the two? After the first attack itself your team had officially released a statement that there’s no such scene or a dream sequence in the film whatsoever. Even, the CEO of your production house, Shobha Sant, had clarified that no such scene existed in the film. From Ranveer to Deepika to other people who are associated with the movie, each and every individual has clearly stated innumerable times that Deepika and Ranveer have no scene in the film at all.
It has been a field day for all the political parties ever since. Some say that you are distorting history; some say that they want the scene between Rani Padmavati and Sultan Alauddin Khilji to be deleted, and some just want to ban the film because it might hurt their religious sentiments. My question to these people is, have you seen the movie? How can you be so sure that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has distorted the facts? How can you say with surety that there is a scene between Rani Padmavati and Sultan Alauddin Khilji? I am not advocating that the film will be outstanding because we haven’t seen it yet, but how can those protesting not understand and trust the makers even after number of assurances given?
Then came your video statement that just left us heartbroken. A filmmaker of your stature was forced to justify his work and request people to trust him. You stated, “I’ve made this film ‘Padmavati’ with a lot of sincerity, responsibility and hard work.” We hoped that this video will suffice and put the entire case to rest.
But, it looks like no matter what the protestors won’t give up. Even after your video, the controversy doesn’t seem to die down.
Mr Bhansali, after all this brouhaha, I want to make just one humble request, and that is, no more clarifications PLEASE. It’s high time that the political forces stop targeting Bollywood. We are with you and your film, and believe us, even the audience is. Once the film releases, it will surely squash all the assumptions.
A journalist, a fan, and the guy who will watch ‘Padmavati’ without any fear, first day first show