Padmaavat has crossed Rs 270 crores at the Indian box office. Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali feels more vindicated than elated. “What better gift can I expect than this wholehearted acceptance of my film? There were threats and risks of violence and yet families all across the country went to see Padmaavat. It gives me feeling of tremendous gratitude. I’ve been through so much during the past year, I am numbed. It is baffling why the situation was allowed to get out of hand in the first place. I can only thank the audience for going to see my film in spite of the threats,” says Bhansali whose one big fear is that the fringe elements will target other films.
“I don’t think Padmaavat is the end of it (the protests). This is just the beginning,” says Bhansali ominously. Sure enough there are protests brewing against another historical drama Manikarnika in another part of India, while Padmaavat remains banned in three states Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
“We’re very happy with the film’s success. We’d be happier if the two states (Gujarat and Rajasthan) where the film is not showing, decide to release our film. My films have always had a tremendous response in these two states. I feel helpless and sad about the film’s being held back in Gujarat and Rajasthan. It’s all destiny, I suppose. Who would’ve thought that my film which honours a community would be attacked by members of the same community?” wonders Bhansali.
What are the takeaways for the director from the experience of making Padmaavat? “That making cinema that you believe in is becoming increasingly difficult. That these difficulties only make me more determined to do exactly what I want to do, no matter what the price. Today when I see the swelling crowds for Padmaavat my heart swells in pride. Yes, it has been a tough journey. But finally all worth it.”