A tour through Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s cities of dreams

Posted on August 9, 2021



It’s 25 years since ‘Khamoshi: The Musical’ released. In a Hindi cinema landscape littered with Hollywood-inspired filmmakers, Bhansali is one of the last of the traditionalists.

There is a sense of cosmic justice that Fyodor Dostoevsky’s White Nights drew the attention of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who refashioned the story as Saawariya, which is at once his biggest flop and one of his greatest achievements. For one, it is a love triangle — the masochistic unattainability of love by at least one of the vertices of the triangle is something that’s always watered this director’s imagination. Two, Dostoevsky’s subhead for the short story was “A Sentimental Story from the Diary of a Dreamer”. That’s exactly how I picture this filmmaker at home, a sentimental man with a mental diary filled with sado-masochistic scribbles about, well, the unattainability of love. These are lines, about the protagonist, that seem to be written with Bhansali in mind: “I don’t know how to be silent when my heart is speaking… And I do nothing but dream every day that at last I shall meet someone. Oh, if only you knew how often I have been in love in that way…”

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Posted in: Cinema: Hindi