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Sanjay Leela Bhansali: I rate Gangubai Kathiawadi as my most personal film

Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

By: Mohnish Singh

Known for bejewelling Indian cinema with some of the finest films such as Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), Devdas (2002), Bajirao Mastani (2015), and Padmaavat (2018), celebrated filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali is presently waiting for the release of his next directorial venture, Gangubai Kathiawadi, starring Alia Bhatt in the lead role.

Ahead of the release of the film, the filmmaker said that Gangubai Kathiawadi comes straight from his heart. “It comes straight from my heart. I am so much more in control of my craft now than I was when I started off. I have improved as a human being and as a filmmaker. I think I’ve become more compassionate,” he told a publication.

Calling it his most personal film, the filmmaker said, “It’s a tribute to my growing years. I spent the first 30 years of my living in just one lane away from Kamathipura. I gave my all to this film. Every flavour, colour and texture that I remembered from my childhood has gone into this film. I remember in my childhood chawl the walls were colourless. And yet that colourless palate is embedded in my mind. Every utensil in our kitchen, every visual from my childhood…like the clothes hanging after washing from the second floor which would flap on the first floor, the stench of the gutters are all alive in my imagination. I rate this as my most personal film.”

Bhansali revealed that he had been wanting to make Gangubai Kathiawadi for eight years. “I wanted to make this film before Ram Leela (2013). I have spoken to Gangubai’s soul. I have had long conversations with her in my mind. I understood her suffering, anger, joys and sorrow. I knew why she needed to get up and dance. I had to connect to the soul of this amazing woman. I think I did,” he added.

Now that Gangubai Kathiawadi is just a couple of days away from entering cinemas, the filmmaker is nervous and anxious. “It is so important for the Indian audience to watch films in cinemas. Movie theatres have opened up fully after two years. It is such a joyous moment not only for me but for the Hindi film industry to be able to return to movie theatres after audiences being stifled at home. I think it is a blessing, and not even in disguise.”

Also featuring Vijay Raaz, Shantanu Maheshwari, and Ajay Devgn, Gangubai Kathiawadi is due on February 25, 2022.

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