When Sanjay Leela Bhansali heard the news that he had been awarded the National award for best music composer for his songs and background music in Padmaavat it was like a long-cherished dream come true. “I’ve always wanted to be recognized for my work as a music composer. Ever since I started officially composing my own songs in Ram Leela, it’s been new journey, a new avenue of exploration for me.”
Sanjay is now busy composing the music for his new directorial venture Inshallah where the songs and music will be filmed on Salman Khan and Alia Bhatt. You may think Sanjay Leela Bhansali had no film on release in 2019. But you are wrong. The maestro of operatic moviemaking has been very busy for the last one year after the completion of his last directorial epic Padmaavat.
He was busy composing music for his production Malaal which launched the careers of Meezaan Jaaferi (son of Javed Jafferi) along with Sharmin Segal who is Bhansali’s niece. Bhansali says it wasn’t easy doing music for a film that was directed by another director (Mangesh Hadawale. “I had to constantly keep Mangesh’s vision in mind while creating the songs. It was a tightrope walk. While my own visions as a composer prodded awake the songs, they finally had to convey what the director wanted.”
Extra care over the songs since Malaal is his niece’s debut? Bhansali disagrees on that. “No, I think the process of creating a film score for me is not incumbent on whom it is being done for. For me the songs in Ram Leela, Padmaavat, Bajirao Mastani are as precious as the songs I’ve created for the two very talented newcomers in Malaal, or for that matter , the music I am creating for the next film I’m directing Inshallah.”
Are we moving towards a trend of film directors serving as their own music providers? Satyajit Ray is the only example of a major filmmaker in the past who composed music for his own films. Says Bhansali, “There is a genuine music composer dormant in many filmmakers. Raj Saab (Raj Kapoor) used to compose a lot of his music in his own head. Then he would share his creations with Shankar-Jaikishan who would then mould the compositions into a sophisticated work of art. Another great filmmaker, the underrated Raj Khosla was a singer-composer who collaborated with Laxmikant-Pyarelal for some fabulous music.”
As a music composer, Bhansali admits his greatest inspiration impetus and motivator is Lata Mangeshkar. “My greatest compliment as a music composer came to me from my idol Lataji for the music of Bajirao Mastani. Lataji has inspired all my films. She told me that the Latpat latpat opening of my ‘Pinga’ song was from her song in V Shantaram’s Amar Bhoopali. Lataji said she liked my songs and the way I’ve filmed them. Then she affectionately said, ‘Aapne mera Latpat latpat utha liya.’ I humbly submit that it is indeed true.”
Bhansali says there are other influences simmering seductively in the soundtrack. “I am also proud to say that the number ‘Deewani Mastani’ is completely inspired by Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s style of composition. Bajirao Mastani is a tribute to the voice of Lataji, the music of Laxmikant-Pyarelal and the cinema of K Asif and V Shantaram. I am very proud to have absorbed all these influences.”