The Best (and Worst) of Sanjay Leela Bhansali

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His films are seen as paintings. They encompass huge canvases which actors of all calibers want to merely be a part. But Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a picky man. He believes in choosing the best and because they tend to be at his disposal, he can do just that. Many are unaware of some old dated facts that SLB speaks very little about. For starters, he was closely involved in the making of the critically acclaimed Parinda and 1942: A Love Story. However, when he refused to direct the Bobby Deol flop film Kareeb, he found himself in a fall out with Vidhu Vinod Chopra and thus, shifted loyalties and debuted as a director with Khamoshi: The Musical. While the film failed at the box office, it went onto receive immense critical accolades. However, Sanjay Leela Bhansali had arrived. With Guzaarish on the brink of release, BollySpice takes a look at the best (and worst) of SLB.

Khamoshi: The Musical

Manisha Koirala shone as SLB’s Annie. Born into a deaf and mute family, Annie becomes the voice of her parents but her love really lies in music. With Raj played by Salman Khan, by her side, she manages to become an acclaimed singer but is told to leave her home by her parents who refuse to accept Raj as their own. The music was phenomenal and even today is considered one of Bhansali’s best with regards to the music of his film. With grand performances that won awards, the film wasn’t seen as entertaining but more heartwarming and emotional. Audiences couldn’t warm up to Khamoshi and thus, it found its way out of cinema halls rather quickly. Critics however, adored Khamoshi for its execution, plot and performances. In fact, it was years later that the film finally received its much deserved due.

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

It is with Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam that SLB and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan formed their special bond that would be used numerously in years ahead. However, HDCS bought to the forefront everything that would emboss the SLB brand. Huge sets were designed with lavish clothes and of course a story that would make you tear and cry. In the year 1999, HDCS was seen as one of the highest grossing films. Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan were praised for their performances while Ajay Devgn was finally seen in a different light. As a director, SLB finally found himself and his genre of films.


In his own version of the epic saga Devdas, SLB felt the need to drop Salman and take on another Khan: Shah Rukh. The film found itself bringing together Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai for the first time and the Dola Re Dola dance sequence with the two outstanding dancers was epic and lives on as one of the greatest ever dance scenes on film. Yet again huge sets and canvases were set up with the actresses gaining more than SRK but it was SLB who shone to stardom as his Devdas became the highest grossing film of 2002. Devdas also won immense awards: music, performances, technical and so on. The film featured at Cannes and was India’s entry to the Oscars for that year. While it didn’t make the cut, it certainly put SLB films on a pedestal.


Time Magazine deemed SLB’s Black as one the best films of 2005. Black intended to be a small film but with the immaculate sets, this idea was thrown out. Black saw SLB take his favorite Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee who starred opposite each other for the first time. Yet again, Black saw itself at a number of film festivals where crowds found themselves standing and applauding SLB’s film. What surprised audiences the most was the music of the film which technically only had one song: Haan Maine Chukar Dekha Hai. Black too won immense accolades and bagged a number of awards.


Saawariya saw the arrival for two of India’s favorite stars: Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor. The film however, found itself being the source of jokes near and far. While the director spared no expense with the film and yet again, took on a huge canvas to match his script, its intensity proved to be too complex for audiences. The film failed miserably at the box office and even critics disliked SLB’s take on a love story this time. The music however, was the saving grace of the film. Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor till date claim that they wouldn’t have debuted any other way and hold SLB in high regard.

Up for release next is Guzaarish which will see him back with his favorite muse, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. He will work with Hrithik Roshan for the first time however and because he believes only he can totally understand Guzaarish, SLB has donned the music director cap too. How will it fair? You’ll just have to wait for November 19th and see if Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish manages to do anything for his careerograph.

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