Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Mom Prays For Padmaavat’s Smooth Release
Sanjay Leela Bhansali with his mother. 
Sanjay Leela Bhansali with his mother. (Photo courtesy: Twitter)

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Mom Prays For Padmaavat’s Smooth Release

Finally when Viacom 18 Motion Pictures went official with the release date of their long-in-the-aching—and I do mean, aching— Padmaavat (i) the first thing that Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s (SLB) very worried mother did was to rush into their cozy puja room in their home to pray for the film’s smooth release.

A mom’s prayers can never go unanswered. At least SLB’s mom’s prayers have never gone unanswered. There has not been a single film of his that has not been in trouble. Right from his directorial debut Khamosh: The Musical which went from Madhuri Dixit (who was the first-choice) to Dimple Kapadia to Kajol to finally land in Manisha Koirala’s lap.

Then there was Devdas (where producer Bharat Shah moved from hospital to prison while Bhansali tried to put together the finances from day-to-day shooting), to Ram Leela and Bajirao Mastani (both besieged by political and cultural protests).

There has never been a time when SLB has made a stress-free film.

“I don’t know what it’s like to make a stress-free film. Stress is so much a part of my cinema that I fear I may not be able to make a film without it,” SLB once told me.

The director tries to shield his mother from the hurt that he experiences on every project. But she knows. She has been watching her son suffer through Padmavati - the worst ordeal he has faced as a filmmaker.

“What has he done to deserve this? One of the finest filmmakers of the country  hounded, threatened, bullied, assaulted… This is not fair,” Mrs Leela Bhansali told a friend recently.

A close family friend says,

“Sanjay hasn’t slept at all for days and weeks. He has stopped taking his evening walks as they are not safe and he doesn’t enjoy being seen by neighbours walking with security staff. He is not been meeting anyone, not even his actors and technicians.”

Concerned and worried Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, the lead players of SLB’s last three films including of course the beleaguered Padmaavat have been inquiring of their director’s well-being.

“Ranveer and Deepika have tried to reach out. No one else from the film industry except Aishwarya Rai and Sonam Kapoor have made any effort to contact SLB. He has been completely isolated in his moment of crisis, grappling with the situation as best as he could, surviving only on prayers and his favourite Lata Mangeshkar’s songs.”

When Viacom finally confirmed the January 25 release date there were conflicting responses from different sections of the industry.

“But will they be able to release the film with all the protests still going on?” asked one fellow filmmaker.

This is a valid and pervasive trepidation. Even as Viacom has taken a deep breath and  plunged into a release in the midst of these hurdles, the question of how the next two weeks pan out, before ‘D’ Day, looms large.

“Be very quiet. No publicity, no marketing. The actors won’t be seen promoting or talking about the film. And hope for the best,” says a Padmaavat team member.

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