Remember Sharmaji’s son, the yardstick that Indian parents ever so often keep using to measure the achievements of their kids? Well, Bollywood too has one such ‘Sharmaji ka beta’. We know him as Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The scale on which his films are mounted are bound to make parents of other filmmakers go ‘Woh Bhansali ka picture dekha hai? Uske sets, gaane aur costumes dekhein hain? Tum kya kar rahe ho apne career ke saath? Kab tak low-budget films banaate rahoge?’.
Pretty sure that in school, Bhansali was that kid who drew extra margins and decorated his book with colourful markers in a bid to earn extra points for neatness. He turns a year older today and now commands a school of filmmaking that’s unique to him.
So I thought it would be a good idea to take you into SLB ki filmi paathshaala and revisit some trademark elements that run through most Bhansali films. (Disclaimer: This is a purely tongue-in-cheek exercise.)
Sanjay Ke Shandaar Sets
His sets are grand, opulent and rich to the point of appearing almost unreal. So much chamak-dhamak, so much bling. They’re like the Bappi Lahiri of film sets. Pretty sure if SLB was into real estate, all his projects would be nothing less than Antilias, because he just wouldn’t settle for anything less.
Have you noticed how a lot of Bhansali actors spout dialogues that are long-drawn and elaborate even by cinematic standards? Remember this one by Shah Rukh Khan in Devdas - Babuji ne kaha gaon chhod do, sab ne kaha Paro ko chhod do, Paro ne kaha sharaab chhod do, aaj tumne keh diya haweli chhod do. Bro, matlab what’s your point? How come kisine yeh nahin kaha ki itne lambe lambe dialogue marna chhod do?
Another one that particularly stands out is by Deepika Padukone as Mastani in Bajirao Mastani. Now all she wants to say is “Punish me, daddy”, but this is what she says instead.
Why would you say so many things, Mastani, when the functional words are clearly ‘Sazaa do mujhe’?
Over The Top Acting
We will never know why Kirron Kher went about her role like an Energizer Bunny in Devdas even as her daughter was kinda forced to marry a man twice her age? I mean, which mother does that? And what was with Aishwarya Rai’s extended family in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam? It’s like they were forever on Red Bull. They were either eating or singing or dancing or flying kites or celebrating some festival or other during their entire screen duration. Even I used to feel tired each time they appeared on screen.
A lot of scenes in Bhansali films seem way too protracted, a case in point being the last scene of Devdas. While on one hand Shah Rukh is fighting for every breath even as he wants to meet Aishwarya, on the other, Bhansali thinks it’s perfectly okay to make her run a full marathon and still not let them meet. Toh itna bhagaya hi kyun?
Alag Hi Level Ka Song and Dance
When life gives Bhansali lemons, he creates a whole song-and-dance routine around it. Remember nimbuda? Like imagine dedicating a whole song to a citrus fruit. What level of Vitamin C deficiency does it take to do that? Then there was Dola Re Dola, that was only made so we could have a dance-off between Madhuri and Aishwarya. Bhansali even turned dusting off dandruff into a national pastime with Ram Leela’s Tattad Tattad. And then one day, he was in the mood to give millennials their Dola Re Dola and that’s how Pinga from Bajirao Mastani happened.
His latest gift to us from the film Padmaavat best describes what Uber drivers do before reaching your location - Ghoomar. In this song, he even digitally restored Rajput pride by covering Deepika’s midriff after protests from political group Karni Sena.
After that, even Karni Sena’s reaction was this.
This was the last lesson from SLB ki filmi paathshaala. Hope you’re going back enlightened. And now coming back to the birthday boy. Tbh, we can’t wait for more films from you Mr Bhansali. So here’s wishing you a very, very happy birthday. Keep them coming!