The posh premiere on Friday night of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's opera Padmavati at the pricey Theatre Du Chatelet was attended by the who's- who of Paris.
"Some of Paris most well-known figures from arts, culture, and politics were present to see Sanjay's version of Padmavati. Among them was the legendary French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier who slipped in minutes before the performance with his lady friend and sat enthralled throughout the performance," says an eyewitness at the premiere.
Apparently, Sanjay couldn't recognize the mythic designer. It was his sister, Bela who discreetly pointed out the presence of Gaultier and whispered his name into her brother's ear. At the party held after the premiere show, it was Sanjay's unaffected and utterly gregarious mother who bonded big- time with Gaultier and specially his lady friend who seemed extremely taken up with Mrs. Leela Bhansali's disarming simplicity. Says a guest at the venue, "Sanjay's mom just took to Gaultier and his leading lady, she even invited them to India on her son's behalf. Sanjay was too nervous and preoccupied to converse too long with Gaultier or anyone else at the event. His focus was on getting everything right. And when it went well he simply sat back and relaxed for the first time in two months."
Sanjay wore a Rajesh Pratap Singh creation. "But it didn't matter what he wore. His concentration was on getting the first show right. Now that he has gone swimmingly, the opera producers are making big plans for Padmavati's progression in Paris and abroad." For the opening night, the Saawariya duo Ranbir and Sonam Kapoor were also expected to join Sanjay and his family in Paris but had to bow out at the last minute due to packed schedules. "But it didn't really matter because I knew I had the good wishes of the entire country with me," said the overwhelmed director. "We had a private staging of the play a day before the play opened to the public. The press and elite audiences were extremely positive. Now that Padmavati has opened to such an overwhelming ovation, all I can say is, I feel I was to the opera-born. V. Shantaram's colorful flamboyant style of filmmaking was always my forte. On stage, I got a chance to pay homage to Shantaram without bothering about camera angles. Padmavati is me, unexpunged."
The forthcoming shows of the play are already booked well in advance. Sanjay is looking at a work that's fated to becoming the first worldwide operatic triumph by an Indian creator. "I'm so into it right now, so consumed by the crew's commitment and infected by the audiences' response that I can't think of anything else. All I want to say to people back home in India is if I've made the country proud then I've succeeded as an individual and an artiste."