Before he directed Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022), Sanjay Leela Bhansali had made the period romance, Padmaavat (2018). The film is based on Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s 16th-century poem. It featured Deepika Padukone as Queen Padmavati, Shahid Kapoor as Rajput king Ratan Singh and Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji. Aditi Rao Hydari, Jim Sarbh, Raza Murad, and Anupriya Goenka were also part of the cast. During the making of the film and up until its release, the Hindi feature faced several protests and also had to undergo a few changes before it hit theatres. (Also read: Sanjay Leela Bhansali says people told him not to make Gangubai Kathiawadi: ‘Have ticked all the wrong boxes’)
Since then, Sanjay has moved on to period dramas that borrow certain elements from real life. But the filmmaker has become more careful after his experience with Padmaavat. Members of the Shri Rajput Karni Sena had led protests and even vandalised the Padmaavat sets as they felt the film showed the Rajput queen in a bad light. Sanjay, who had been assaulted on the film set as well, and actor Deepika were also sent death threats. There were also protests over the portrayal of Ranveer’s character Alauddin Khilji.
Speaking at a panel announcing his next project, the web series Heeramandi, Sanjay shared, “When you’re making a historical in our country, you need to be careful. So yes, you need to get your facts right. And that is where my research ends because most of it is imagination, most of it is how I see the period. It’s done but it’s not done so detailed because I find research very boring. I, as a filmmaker, am not set out to make a documentary that I want it to be exact.”
Sanjay was accompanied by Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos for the Heeramandi announcement. The filmmaker, who is making his digital debut with Heeramandi revealed that this was the biggest project he had worked on. He added, “It’s so huge in scale. I had to do something special… [Sarandos] had commissioned this to me and therefore we had to do something special to make him proud.”
The filmmaker’s next project will premiere on Netflix later this year. The eight-episode series features Sonakshi Sinha, Manisha Koirala, Richa Chadha, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sanjeeda Shaikh and Sharmin Segal. Set in Lahore, the series follows the inner lives of the courtesans of a bygone era.
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(With Inputs from hindustantimes)