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Sanjay Leela Bhansali bats for Sooraj Pancholi

Sanjay Leela Bhansali says Sooraj Pancholi, who is in judicial custody on the charge of abetting suicide of actress Jiah Khan, was extremely hard working and focussed when he assisted him on "Guzaarish".

Thursday, June 20, 2013 | 3:32:19 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Sooraj Pancholi

Sanjay Leela Bhansali says Sooraj Pancholi, who is in judicial custody on the charge of abetting suicide of actress Jiah Khan, was extremely hard working and focussed when he assisted him on "Guzaarish".

Not many know that Sooraj's father Aditya Pancholi and Bhansali live in the same building, though on different floors. Sanjay, who is hermetic by nature, doesn't meet Aditya much, Aditya's wife Zarina Wahab and Sanjay's mother Leela are best friends.

"They are constantly in touch. Zarinaji is a fantastic cook. And she rushes up to our floor with dishes all the time, while my mother too looks out for Zarinaji and the family all the time," said Bhansali affectionately.

It was during one of Zarina's regular afternoon sessions with Leelaji that the suggestion that Sooraj assist Bhansali was mooted.

"That's how Sooraj came to me to assist me for 'Guzaarish'. And I must admit, he was extremely hard working, focussed and soft-spoken. Sooraj would be on the sets on time and he was a fast learner. There were no airs about being a star son. I must say Zarina and Aditya have done a good job of bringing him up," said the filmmaker.

Bhansali is looking forward to working with Sooraj again.

"I wouldn't mind directing him. To me, he seems as gentle and affectionate as Zarinaji," he added.

Jiah committed suicide June 3 and before her death she reportedly wrote a letter in which she talked about her doomed relationship with alleged boyfriend Sooraj. He was arrested June 10 in connection with the suicide of the "Nishabd" actress, and is now in judicial custody. His bail plea hearing is slated for June 21.


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