Sanjay Leela Bhansali is 49, a bachelor, and says he truly believes in the concept of his sister Bela Sehgal's directorial debut "Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi", which deals with love between two 40-plus individuals.
"I love Bela's concept of love striking two people who are seen as past the age of marriage. Love can strike at 45 or 85. I am 49, and I am still waiting for love to happen," said Bhansali in an interview. He was once rumoured to be tying the knot with choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant.
He also opened up about the agony of watching Sehgal's directorial debut being delayed.
Following are excerpts from the interview:
Q: It has taken your sister Bela a good ten years to direct her first film. A lot of people blame you for the delay...
A: Things happen when they are destined to happen. I'm aware that people thought I was the banyan tree which doesn't allow any other tree to grow in its shade. The thought that people held me responsible for my sister's career not taking off killed me from inside.
You'd be surprised to know that she held my hand and introduced me to the wonders of cinema. She took me to the FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) and she introduced me to the film industry. I owe everything I am today to her. Maybe I was fortunate to have directed a film before her. But rightfully she should have directed before me.
Q: You could have prodded her to direct her film long before?
A: At times I used to wonder if she was taking so long to direct a film because she spent so much time editing my films. But there was nothing I could do. Bela was always part of my creativity. She edited all my films until "Black" and then she decided it was time for her to direct her own film. She was always very clear that she wanted to start as an editor and then direct a film.
She wanted to direct a film only after I made "Devdas". Still, there was a nagging feeling inside me that I may be slowing down her creative journey by holding on to her in the capacity of an editor for my films. I really missed her editing in "Saawariya" and "Guzaarish".
Q: I believe you and Bela had violent physical fights over the editing of your films?
A: Oh yes. I was like a tiger protecting every inch of my footage. She was ruthless. She would tell me on my face that certain things had to go. She ceased to be a sister and became an editor. We've gone at each other like two cats, with our horrified assistants trying to separate us from both sides. We were obnoxious in the editing room. But she made the right decisions. And now you can see that same ruthless economy of expression in her own film.
Her film is just 1 hour 45 minutes long, not a minute longer than it needed to be. I miss her in the editing room. But when I saw what she had directed, I am glad she has moved on.
Q: How do you feel when she is finally ready with her film?
A: Bela's film is infinitely superior to my first film "Khamoshi: The Musical". I wish I had made "Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi". We were planning "Shirin Farhad..." for eight years. Only I know what agony I've suffered in these eight years. The delay wasn't only because she is my sister. Some actors walked out of "Shirin Farhad...". I'd rather not talk about these ugly things, because we finally succeeded in getting the perfect cast (Boman Irani and Farah Khan).
Q: "Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi" recommends love past an age not socially permissible in our society. Do you think love is possible after 45?
A: Why not? I love Bela's concept of love striking two people who are seen as past the age of marriage. Love can strike at 45 or 85. I am 49, and I am still waiting for love to happen.
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