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EXCLUSIVE: Sanjay Leela Bhansali on maintaining friendship with Salman Khan despite Inshallah fallout: “After one month, he called me and I called him and we talked”

Indian filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, known for his visually stunning and emotionally charged historical epics, has recently shed light on his creative process behind the highly talked about series Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar. Bhansali, whose dedication extends beyond box office success, prioritizes crafting immersive experiences for his audience. This series marked his first for a streaming platform and did get mixed reactions for its historical accuracy. In a recent interview with Bollywood Hungama, Bhansali discussed his vision for Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar, set against the backdrop of a bygone era. He also talked about working with several stars over the years, however, he remains friends with only a few of them. Bhansali mentioned that he loves his actors a lot but one star who keeps a check on him is Salman Khan.

When asked whether he likes to stay friends with his actors, Bhansali said, “I love my actors. I see that with actors, your relationship with them should not be of friends. You have to love your actors. You have to love the characters that you’re creating.”

Bhansali said that the one actor he continues to remain friends with is Salman Khan. He has worked with him on KhamoshiHum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Saawariya. Interestingly, Salman Khan was also present at the premiere of Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar to support Bhansali. Though Inshallah co-starring Salman Khan and Alia Bhatt did not pan out, Bhansali added, “The only person that I’m still friendly with is Salman Khan. Even if Inshallah didn’t happen, he stands by me. He’ll call me; he’ll care for me. ‘Are you okay? Is there anything [you need]? You’ve goofed up, you messed up’. I enjoy his humour so much. It [phone call] comes once in three months, once in five months, but it comes because he doesn’t care about my film. He cares about me. ‘You, bro, you’ve done so many films with me doesn’t matter. Are you okay?’ And that is what it is all about.”

He continued, “On work, we may have sparred, we may have not had our moment correct, and it didn’t fall into place. But after one month, he called me and I called him and we talked. So that is a friend. In that sense, I’m fortunate enough to have that friend who once in six months and will speak, will exactly start from where we left.”

Bhansali said, “But mostly I love them [actors] when I’m working with them. I think they move on, they forget. As an actor, you go to the next day, you’re going to the next film. A director is sitting at home for six months working on the next one. So you feel lonely, but all those people who were with me work with me every day. So you feel that you should not take that too seriously. But you don’t stop loving them. And you thank them because of what they’ve done for you and created the character and made your cinema come alive. And you should always be grateful to them.”

Inshallah was shelved after the project went on floors. While Bhansali seems to have no plans to revive it, some speculations suggest the story revolved around a businessman [Salman Khan] who, despite being in his 40s, maintained a youthful spirit. He travelled from Orlando to Varanasi, India, possibly for business or personal reasons. There, he encountered [Alia Bhatt], an aspiring actress living near the Ganges River. Their significant age difference would have become a central theme of the film.

Meanwhile, Heeramandi, which translates to “Diamond Market,” delves into the lives of courtesans within Lahore’s red-light district during the British Raj. The series boasts an ensemble cast, including established actresses like Manisha Koirala and Sonakshi Sinha, alongside Aditi Rao Hydari, Richa Chadha, Sharmin Segal and Sanjeeda Shaikh.

Sources

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