Some filmmakers have left such an indelible mark on cinema that the world will forever remember them. Amongst those is India’s Sanjay Leela Bhansali. He is featured amongst cinema greats and their iconic works. He is the auteur who reimagined the most loved period romantic drama ‘Devdas’ with Aishwarya Rai, Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit in the lead. The film turns 21 today and is considered a bonafide classic.
While Sanjay Leela Bhansali is among the rare filmmakers who could pull off bringing such a star-studded ensemble together, it is ‘only’ he who could make the characters of Dev, Paro and Chandramukhi shine way past the superstars playing them. The auteur portrayed his characters in the most unimaginable avatar, so much so that when you watched Devdas all you could see was Dev, Paro and Chandramukhi and not superstars Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit.
Sanjay Bhansali is known for his keen eye for casting and ‘Devdas’ reflected that – He is also known for extracting the best performances from his artists and the film was lauded for its benchmark performances delivered by the cast under the direction of the filmmaker.
Whether it was Paro’s long cascading hair, Chandramukhi’s intricate outfits, or Devdas’ blood-shot eyes, the visuals from ‘Devdas’ continue to haunt us even to date. And when it comes to visuals Sanjay Leela Bhansali has always set the highest standards, from the elaborate set design, lighting and costumes his films aren’t just movies but experiences as he draws you into another world.
And then comes the soul of the film, its music by Ismail Darbar and Birju Maharaj. From ‘Dola Re’, ‘Maar Daala’, ‘Bairi Piya’, ‘Silsila Ye Chahat Ka’, and ‘Chalak Chalak’ every single song from the ‘Devdas’ album was etched in the hearts and minds of audiences for their soulful melodies, poetic lyrics and picturisation which carried Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s stamp of grandeur and beauty.
The auteur through the course of his career has delivered several fine cinematic offerings and the 21-year-old ‘Devdas’ only goes to prove why Sanjay Leela Bhansali is referred to as the true inheritor of the Indian film heritage.