The reviews just won't stop gushing. Sanjay Leela Bhansali who's just back in Mumbai after four exhilarating performances of the opera Padmavati in Paris can't believe the experience. "The only opera I had seen before this was Opera House in Mumbai. I had never gone to an opera, never knew there was an operatic influence within me. Now I'm hungry for more." Now Padmavati goes to Italy in June. After two consecutive performances of the opera Padmavati at the posh Theatre du Chatelet in Paris Sanjay Leela Bhansali is clearly the toast of France. The reviews in all the major French papers-La Republica, Le Monde, Les Echoes-have hailed Bhansali's operatic overture as an unqualified triumph. Yet a section of his colleagues in Mumbai continue to believe Bhansali's stunning sojourn in Paris to be an extension of his exilic journey that began after Saawariya. A deliberate attempt to play down Bhansali's Parisian triumph is epitomized by a leading young director who told this writer, "I believe the opera opened to a half-empty theatre. Audiences booed the opening." Far from opening poorly, Padmavati wowed the audience. Such is the response to the opera that it now goes to Italy and other European countries. Exhilarated by the response, Bhansali shrugs off the carpers in Mumbai. "It's rather sad that some people would rather pull down what is an honour for India rather than celebrate our triumph. I was nervous and apprehensive about the first performance. Now after the second performance I'm far more confident. Yes, it works." Sanjay Bhansali's ultimate destination for Padmavati is Chittorgarh, Rajasthani hamlet where Albert Rousell's opera is set. He dreams of staging the opera live in the real sand with real elephants and camels. At the first performance itself one could hear loud gasps and sighs at the immensity scope and opulence of Bhansali's love tale as it unraveled on stage in unparalleled operatic style. Wrote Amit Roy in The Telegraph, "The premiere of the Indo-French opera Padmavati had ended to rousing and sustained cheers of 'Bravo Bravo!' from the 2500-strong audience at the Theatre du Chatelet." The second performance last week went even better, with audiences no hooked to the thunderous tale of Padmavati's undying passion for the commoner Ratan Sen. With the third and fourth performance Paris was hooked." "It's a triumph for all of us
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