In the second half of the talkathon, Sanjay Bhansali lauds Monty, the young composer who has scored Black, tells us what inspires his celluloid women, snubs our blind belief in the west and shares us his passion for films, so consuming that it leaves him with a stinging numbness…
You think films in terms of music. We are extremely curious to know how is BLACK scored?
Silence can be fascinating. Besides, I had exhausted myself on song picturizations. I have to outgrow it. That's the reason we decided to go different for Black. A young guy Monty has done the background score. He had earlier scored Devdas. Must say, working with him has been an experience! Monty is so child-like. He loves music, god and guess what, food! You can get the best music piece from him with the help of a rabri!
Black has an international aura to it. Intentional, like most would like to believe or did the look stem from the script?
Anything visually stunning, and we are quick to dub it as Hollywood. I dislike this mentality. If it's mediocre, then Indian but if it's good looking, has to be Hollywood. We need to get rid of this prejudice. As with Black, the film about an anglo-indian family unfolds in Shimla and hence our set designer Omung Kumar has given it the appropriate look.
Sabyasachi has designed the clothes, how do you like his work?
I think he has done a fantastic job. The clothes are rich at the same time; the coarse texture to it is alive. There are layers, flaps all of it that creates the perfect look for the characters. While shooting at Kamalistan in non-AC conditions, Rani was almost choking with heat; such was the detailing. Jokes apart, Sabyasachi has rendered exclusive styling.
"Watching Amitabh act is like feasting on a western symphony!"
BLACK schedule was delayed and then the set caught fire. Instead of getting bogged down, you deliver the outstanding…
It is extremely torturous to see a set burn down in front of you. But I believe that you need to fight small battles to win the war. That's when things get potent. From there on, it's almost like I am possessed! And my 150-member crew is on a war cry. We are unstoppable from then on!
Rumors, misquotes and hearsay once soured your equation with Ash, do you think you are better equipped to deal with them now?
I am not sure whether I can deal with them any better. But yes, I try and ignore most of it.
Has your filmmaking been ever reactive?
Sanjay Leela Bhansali revived Hindi song-dance with flourish. Comment.
Indian music continues to be my staple diet. R D Burman and Lata Mangeshkar are people I have grown listening to. Their music echoes in my head till date. Later when I watched Vijay Anand's Guide, the frames awed me, and I told myself that, here is a genius from whom I have to learn a lot. Prodigies like Uday Shankar and Birju Maharaj influenced my sense of choreography and song picturization.
"I can't detach from my films!"
What is being innately Indian to you?
I take great pride in being Indian. It's a very fine feeling. But I am not too sure about our recent diktat of selling ourselves to the west. It doesn't hold much appeal to me. If we believe that we are genuinely good, they will reach out to us. All crossover cinema stops at Thane.
Do you think you belong to a certain breed of filmmakers as perceived?
I can't live with people's perceptions. And I don't think I belong to any section of filmmakers. My work might reflect references of people who I hold in high regard. But the approach is very different.
You are painfully honest. How does such a person survive in a two-faced industry?
Well, yes, it is an occupational hazard at times, because I am blunt. I like to play straight. And not everybody likes to be that way.
You present your actresses with tremendous aura. What inspires Sanjay's celluloid women?
My mother most definitely. Woman is Shakti, the creative source of life and you have to acknowledge that. So that dignity and passion is what characterizes my heroines.
"Rani is incredibly versatile. She can be bindaas, and also have a Madhuri like nazakat"
3 screen women that you idolize?
Durga Khote, Nutan and Meenakumari.
How does it feel to have a female fan following who love the brooding intensity that Sanjay is to them?
(Tries hard to maintain a straight face) Well, I think they connect to the characters that I create on screen. The intensity, honesty and goodness is what they take home.
Which according to you is the stronger emotion- love or pain?
You are an intensely passionate filmmaker. Are there times when this passion tends to consume you?
Absolutely! It does push you on to the brink. When I am scripting a film, I de-link myself from the world for 6 months. No people, parties, phone calls, nothing is entertained. But once the film is wrapped, I go totally numb. Because now you don't know where to channelize your energy to. There is terrific vacuum…
"We are quick to dub any aesthetic work as Hollywood!"
It's very tough, as I have to now reconnect with my social circle that I left behind. Picking threads is tricky. But god's been gracious to gift me with some fabulous friends who are very tolerant of me. But I do go blank at times and the numbness still stings…
And how do you break out of the stupor?
A nervous breakdown does that for me…
As I watch you searing in passion, I wonder, are you ever able to detach yourself from the film?
I realize that once your film goes into the theatre for public consumption, its no more yours. It just isn't your baby anymore. But yes, de-linking from the film is a terrible ordeal to go through. I can't get myself to do that. I haven't watched Devdas yet. Everytime I watch Hum Dil, my eyes swell. It's very emotional. You live, breathe and think the film. After investing every fibre in your body to create those celluloid images, I can't be a clinical viewer. Nah…
And how difficult is it to convince a producer about your conviction that might not make monetary sense to a man whose prime concern is to even out bottom lines?
Ah, I have been particularly fortunate in this aspect. Jhamu Sughand didn't even ask me for a script reading before backing the film. Devdas was created without a single argument. Producers went brave even with Khamoshi. I have taken the road less traveled and feel lucky to have got some fabulous people support the gut feel.
"Having made Black…I am at peace"
Any parting thoughts on Black…
There's a lot that has gone into making the film. The technicians and crew members have put blood, sweat and tears into creating the film. And for them, I hope people stand by the film.
Finally, what are you feeling right now?
Well, I have a lot of nervousness, anxiety and excitement all boiling inside. But having made Black… I am at peace.