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Writer of the Week: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

BollyCurry presents a weekly feature article on a famous Bollywood writers who have greatly contributed to the expanding entertainment industry. To kick start off this month, we bring to you a man with a vivid vision, Sanjay Leela Bhansali!

As we finally settle 2014, BollyCurry finds itself stumped to already be facing the month of March. More popularly known as the "Writing" month and for a team that loves to write, we therefore have decided to bring something new and unique to all you lovely readers; a weekly feature article on a famous Bollywood writers who have greatly contributed to the expanding entertainment industry. To kick start off this month, we bring to you a man with a vivid vision, Sanjay Leela Bhansali!

Bhansali has always been known to keep his personal life private and so it is no wonder that his online history dates back to when he began his career as an assistant director with Vidhu Vinod Chopra. He worked on films such as Parinda (1989), 1942: A Love Story (1994) and Kareeb (1998) before he made his directorial debut with Khamoshi: The Musical (1996) after he had a fall-out with Chopra on refusing to direct Kareeb.

Bhansali wrote the moving story of Khamoshi: The Musical and thus began his career as a writer as well. The film portrayed the tale of a daughter's emotional struggle to understand and communicate with her deaf and mute parents. Upon release, it did not do too well at the box office but was highly acclaimed critically, resulting in Bhansali being hailed as a writer to lookout for.

His second film as a writer and director was the tremendously successful Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) starring Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Ajay Devgn in lead roles. The movie was known for its grandeur, festivity, sacrifice, and the ultimate bond of love and loyalty. It was a simple triangular love story cherished for its traditional toned music and its heart wrenching tale. Bhansali won several awards for his stint with the film including Filmfare Best Director award, Filmfare Best Movie Award, Star Screen Award for Best Film, Star Screen Award for Best Director, Star Screen Award for Best Screenplay, IIFA Award for Best Movie, IIFA Award for Best Director, IIFA Award for Best Screenplay, Zee Cine Award for Best Film, Zee Cine Award for Best Director, Zee Gold Awards for Best Director and Zee Gold Awards for Best Screenplay.

Riding on a new wave of high, Bhansali directed three more movies; Devdas (2002), Black (2005), and Saawariya (2007), none of which he wrote. Devdas, a screen adaptation of a novel of the same name, became the highest grossing movie of 2002 and also won many major Bollywood awards as well as receiving a significant reception at the Cannes Film Festival. Black broke several records, standing fifth in Time Magazine's "10 Best Movies of the Year 2005" list and also winning an astounding number of eleven awards at the 2006 Filmfare Awards. However, adapted from a novel titled White Nights and the first movie where he had no input in the writing process, Saawariya was Bhansali's first major flop and was met with criticism and poor collections at the box office. He also made his music direction debut with this movie, which did gather some positive feedback.

In 2010, Bhansali wrote his third and directed his fifth movie, Guzaarish, which starred Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. It was also the second movie where he directed the music. The film again did not do so well, despite the excitement of the lead couple. However, Bhansali's writing was praised and thus was nominated for several awards. Post his failures, he produced two movies, My Friend Pinto (2011) and Rowdy Rathore (2012) as he continued to work on writing his next two projects.

2012 saw Bhansali writing and producing Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi which starred Boman Irani and Farah Khan in her debut movie as an actress. The script consisted of a sweet and simple love story of two middle-aged people who face issues when Farhad's (Irani) mother refuses to let him marry Shirin (Khan). The film was praised by critics but did not do well at the box office.

Bhansali's made a mighty comeback as the ultimate storyteller with his latest directorial and written movie, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela (2013); a modern yet ethnic retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Starring Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, the film was the highly successful and became one of the highest grossing films of the year. Many viewers and critics drew parallels between Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam due to both movies belonging to a Gujarati backdrop, being visually colorful and the theme of sacrifice but eventually saw the individualism of each tale. 

In the same year of 2013, Bhansali debuted as a producer with the TV show Saraswatichandra, which currently airs on Star Plus. However, he has recently pulled out of the venture citing reasons of creative differences with the channel.

On news of his future works, it is well known that Bhansali has been toying with an ambitious project titled Bajirao Mastani. Due to issues such as casting, the film has been shelved for 14 years but rumors now have it that Bhansali will breathe life into the venture soon. He is also to work on another stalled project called Chenab Gandhi, written by the team who gave us Black.

Despite a few downs, Bhansali has proved himself to be a passionate and entertaining writer who subtly distributes lessons on morality. BollyCurry wishes him all the success for his future projects and hopes that with each film, he continues to entertain us with his vision.

Writer: Shreya S.
Editor(s): Alina S. and Jenifer Y.
Graphics: Virina R.
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Sanjay Leela Bhansali Vidhu Vinod Chopra Saawariya  Black  Devdas  Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam  Guzaarish  My Friend Pinto  Rowdy Rathore  Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi  Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela 

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