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Sanjay Leela Bhansali Recalls ‘Devdas’ Memories, says, “I think the cinema has changed…”

Bollywood Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali opened up on the making of his film, 'Devdas', and recalled his experiences working with Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai and Pandit Birju Maharaj.

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By Dhwani Joshi
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Devdas released in 2002, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali has become somewhat a cult classic in Bollywood. The grand sets, elegant costumes and beautiful aesthetics combined with the performances by Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai created a cinematic masterpiece. 

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In a recent interview, Bhansali was asked about his thoughts on the acting process evolving over the years, he answered, “I think the cinema has changed, techniques have changed. Now a director looks at cinema differently. The scriptwriters are writing differently and sketching varied and unusual roles. It is a great time for Indian cinema. Today, great films are being made, and wonderful work is being done.”

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He further added, “The sur (tone) and the note at which Devdas was being performed, it was high pitch and operatic… it was difficult to perform. In those days, directors demanded actors to be that way but today, they ask actors to underplay and be subtle which is also nice. What Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit, and Kirron Kher did in Devdas, are notes and sur that today's actors may not be able to deliver because they were a little unreal and demanded a deeper understanding of the acting techniques which Shah Rukh handled with brilliance."

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Bhansali also opened up on the hardships he faced while making the film, “I slept on a mattress there. One day, Rekha ji, after watching Devdas, said that she wanted to meet the filmmaker. I said, ‘You’ll be disappointed.’ Yet she came. When the door opened, she saw this small, modest place and I told her, ‘I sleep here and I make my film here.’ I never thought I needed a bedroom or luxury,” he mentioned.

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In another interview, Bhansali shared his experience on working Pandit Birju Maharaj during Devdas He recalled an incident that on a Sunday, Birju Maharaj, who had come to record two songs for the movie, including "Kaahe Chhed Chhed" for Madhuri Dixit, called him to complain that he had nothing to do. Bhansali said he reminded him that he was an artist, and that artists don't feel like eating or taking pleasure in food until they had performed for an audience. When Bhansali asked how he might help, Birju Maharaj asked to be given a stage on which he can perform. In order for the dancer to perform, Bhansali brought him to Madhuri Dixit's home. The filmmaker added, “Every artiste wants their talent to be seen, appreciated or even criticised. Criticism is also a part of an artiste’s growth and life.”

Devdas, the 2002 film is based on the Bengali novel of the same name by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. The film was a major commercial success when it first came out.

Also Read: Sanjay Leela Bhansali talks about making a Sahir Ludhianvi biopic

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