Sanjay Bhansali Worked On a Version of ‘Padmavati’ Back In the 80s
The 1980s were probably much more innocent times. Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal mounted the ambitious 53-part-series Bharat Ek Khoj (1988) for Doordarshan and one episode of the series was dedicated the story of Rani Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji. No protests, no calls for beheadings - and Benegal didn’t even show Padmavati immolating herself via jauhar in his story.
The episode featured the late Om Puri as Alauddin Khilji, Rajendra Gupta as Raja Ratan Singh (he’s referred to as Ratansen in Bharat Ek Khoj) and Seema Kelkar as Padmavati. But the big surprise comes as the end credits go up.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali did an editing course at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune from 1985-88. Benegal’s Bharat Ek Khoj was probably one of his first jobs in the professional space, where he began as an assistant editor, before going on to assist Vidhu Vinod Chopra and then make his debut as a director with Khamoshi in 1996.
At the time, Sanjay Leela Bhansali was starting his career. He was assisting his sister (Bela Segal). His sister was one of main the editors of my series. Sanjay used to come and assist her. I’m not sure if he assisted her on that particular episode or not, but the fact is that he did assist in the editing of the series, Bharat Ek Khoj. One knew that, even then, he was very talented, extremely curious, and mindful of details. I didn’t realise that he’ll be a director because it seemed like he was going to be an editorShyam Benegal, Filmmaker
We wonder if the seed of making a full fledged feature on Padmavati was sown in a young Bhansali’s mind back in the 80s on a dusty edit table.