From being a journalist to becoming a CEO of Sanjay Leela Bhansali Productions, Sandeep Singh talks about his journey, forthcoming films BAJIRAO MASTANI, GABBAR and much more in quick chat. Excerpts from the interview:
How did you associate with Sanjay Leela Bhansali?
I was a journalist working for various media organizations. Then I was heading two shows on a popular television channel. I also directed a play, back in 2006. When I saw GUZAARISH, I got in touch with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and told him that I am interested to work with him. He initially thought, I was his fan and wanted to assist him. But then I clarified to him and told that I wanted to be the CEO of his company. I wanted to produce films which Sanjay Leela Bhansali would be directing. I was on board and we first started with television show ‘Saraswati Chandra’, which was appreciated a lot. Before we started, Sanjay ji had made 6 films in 18 years and after I joined, we did 6 films in 3 years. We started off with ROWDY RATHORE, SHIRIN FARHAD KI TOH NIKAL PADI, MY FRIEND PINTO, MARY KOM, GABBAR and now about to begin BAJIRAO MASTANI.
What made you switch your career from a journalist to a Producer?
I always wanted to work in cinema. I didn’t belong to the film industry hence I had to make my own path. My final aim is to be a director. I have interviewed many people and I have learnt everything that a director should know. I watch films which I love, dancing and music is my passion. I believe in all kinds of cinema, be it FILMISTAAN, ROWDY RATHORE or BAJIRAO MASTANI. Even HAPPY NEW YEAR, I am excited about it. Filmmaking is an exciting process.
It was surprising to see Sanjay Leela Bhansali produce ROWDY RATHORE, keeping in mind his cinema. What made him produce the film?
The Sanjay Leela Bhansali we see in front of the media and what we see him while making the films is different. He is actually the director of ROWDY RATHORE. He believes in that kind of cinema. He is a Manmohan Desai fan. If he gets down to it, he makes a KHAMOSHI, HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM, DEVDAS and RAM-LEELA. So he believes in the cinema. Only thing is that when he directs, he becomes a little choosy. But he is open to producing any kind of good cinema.
You believe in working with new comers mostly. Don’t you get insecured of trusting a fresher with a great responsibility?
I believe in giving chances to the freshers. All artistes except Priyanka Chopra were new in MARY KOM. If we don’t believe in people, how will new comers make it big in life. There is no insecurity about the result. Till I don’t trust any particular person, I do not give them a chance. Trust comes with challenge and not nature. I like edge in people. I like thoda tevar.
How challenging is to get the star cast on-board for a film?
To get star cast for Bhansali Production isn’t difficult at all. Everybody in the industry knows that we make great films. Ranveer Singh took just one day to accept the film. Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra too were on board as soon as they were told. Doing recce, making sets and other things are a bigger challenge. Getting actors isn’t difficult if the script is in place.
What do we expect out of BAJIRAO MASTANI?
BAJIRAO MASTANI is going to be grand. It will be a typical Sanjay Leela Bhansali film.
GABBAR gets Akshay Kumar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali together again. Should we expect a tinge of ROWDY RATHORE?
If GABBAR would have been similar to ROWDY RATHORE, we wouldn’t have made it. Both films are different. Akshay Kumar and SLB wouldn’t have come together again if it was similar to ROWDY RATHORE.
There is an increase in number of films Bhansali Productions is making. Reason?
Everything is growing. Times have changed. Hence we need to multiply. Cinema preference has changed. People are watching CITYLIGHTS also and THE DIRTY PICTURE also. The more you do the better it is.