One look at any of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movies is enough to know that the Gujarati culture influences his movies a lot. In fact, two of his epic movies Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Ram Leela are set in Gujarat, centered around Gujarati characters.
The director who was born and brought up in Bhuleshwar (a Gujarati locality in Mumbai), says he loves everything that is Gujarati. From the music to the food to the architecture.
Talking about it, he says “I have Gujarati blood flowing through my veins. We speak Gujarati at home and my mom was a garba choreographer. Bhuleshwar had the loudest of Gujaratis and we would shout out across buildings. When I am on my own and not being watched, I too consider myself a loud Gujarati. Gujaratis are very warm people. In fact, they are over-hospitable and you cannot go to a Gujarati household and not eat. My undhiyu and dhoklas are very important for me and I love Gujarati food. I would do anything to go to Agashiye in Ahmedabad or a Thackers in Mumbai for a meal. I find Gujarati folk singers very fascinating and for Ram-Leela, I stayed in Rajkot for five days just to hear all kinds of Gujarati folk singers sing. I also find Gujarati architecture and literature fascinating. Apart from Bombay Times, I read a Gujarati newspaper everyday.”
Explaining the kind of love his film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam got in Gujarat, the 50 year old film-maker says, “In Gujarat, the audience would stand up in the middle of the film, wave to the man running the projector and ask him to play the song Dholi Taro... once again before continuing the film. It was unique as I have never seen this before.”
His next film Ram Leela, which centers around two communities in Gujarat, releases on November 15th.