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    Sony tie-up won't hurt my creativity: Bhansali

    [Interview by Subhash K. Jha]
    Monday, October 31, 2005
    Sanjay Leela Bhansali is quite certain that entertainment giant Sony Pictures will exercise no pressure on his creativity as it ties up with him for its first Hindi film.

    "There will be no interference, only collaboration. I feel my creativity will be considerably enhanced by the atmosphere of professionalism," Bhansali told IANS in an interview, referring to the film "Saanvariya".

    "Sony has chosen me to make their first Hindi film. And I feel honored. Now I''ve to give everything I''ve to this project."

    The filmmaker, whose "Black" was highly applauded but failed to make it to the Oscars, is also hoping that the collaboration with Sony will take his vision to a larger audience.

    Excerpts from the interview:

    Sony Pictures Entertainment has just entered into an unprecedented deal with you. Does it put a sense of responsibility on you?

    I think Indian cinema deserved this kind of entertainment collaboration long back. I guess it's never too late. The fact that it's happening with my film and that too "Saanvariya", a project really close to my heart, makes me proud. This is the right time for us to go global in a big way. The world wants to reach out to us and vice versa. Indians are scoring in every sphere, so why not our cinema? I'm proud that my film has flagged off this process.

    Does this deal put an extra burden on you to deliver?

    No, not at all. I feel every filmmaker, big or small, has a dream. And we cannot define that dream by the size of the resources available to a filmmaker. Every film is made just once and you'd better give it your best shot.

    "Saanvariya" is as precious to me as my earlier films. But this time the world will be looking at me to deliver. Now I've to live up to my own expectations and the expectations of the people who are putting so much faith in my abilities.

    Wouldn't it make your creativity self-conscious?

    No, challenges are always stimulating to creativity. "Saanvariya" will take me further than my earlier films. Sony has chosen me to make their first Hindi film. And I feel honoured. Now I've to give everything I've to this project.

    This doesn't mean "Devdas" or "Black" weren't given everything I had. You know very well what difficulties I went through in making "Devdas"... or even my first film "Khamoshi" wasn't a cakewalk. "Saanvariya" will be easier to make. It will reach out to the optimum audience in a far more organised way.

    Do you think "Devdas" and "Black" would've been better marketed by a corporate company like Sony?

    Oh absolutely! "Devdas" was chosen for Cannes. It was bought by several countries. It had the song-and-dance routine and yet it was perceived abroad as art. Earlier too a Hindi filmmaker like Guru Dutt was very popular abroad. But his films weren't marketed properly. That's where my "Saanvariya" will score over "Black" and "Devdas"... "Devdas" did become a rage. Aishwarya Rai became internationally known through this film.

    I hope my actors and technicians in "Saanvariya" would make the same impact. Sony will make the marketing, promotion and overall projection of my film so streamlined I just have to concentrate on making my film.

    Sony thinks your cinema embodies sensitivity and visual splendour?

    I think the authorities saw "Black" and "Devdas". They liked the latter. But it was "Black" that really swayed them. They feel it was on a par with anything from anywhere. They decided to put their trust in this Indian filmmaker who thinks and visualises purely Indian dreams on celluloid. I hope "Saanvariya" will transport my vision to a larger audience. I think I'll be learning a lot from this experience. I've always been disciplined. Now it's time for my cinema to go into a more organised infrastructure.

    But Sony will exercise its own pressures on your creativity?

    None at all. Of course, the project will involve huge resources. So there's bound to be a participative spirit prevailing during the shoot. There will be no interference, only collaboration. I feel my creativity will be considerably enhanced by the atmosphere of professionalism. And I want to thank the Sony team in India - Uday Singh, Kunal Dasgupta and Shreedhar - for helping in making it happen.

    There're many other prominent filmmakers in the country. What made them come to you?

    I can't say for sure. Maybe they looked at "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam", "Devdas" and "Black" as very Indian films, though in India "Black" wasn't seen as that Indian.

    You know Japanese, Indian and Italian cinemas are far more passionately emotional. Filmmakers from these countries operate from the heart. I think these are the qualities that Sony saw in my films. The song and dance legacy is what they see as Indian cinema. These components will be an integral part of "Saanvariya". Perhaps they related to my cinema in some instinctive way. "Saanvariya" was destined to be the first Indian film made in collaboration with Sony.

    When do you start?

    The principal shooting begins in March.

    And the cast?

    Ah, that's surprise. Let's reveal it later.


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