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'We are not making Pakeezah or Umrao Jaan'

May 10, 2022 17:14 IST

'There are songs -- quite a few of them -- but the focus will be on the drama.'

As the ambitious costume drama Heeramandi -- about a brothel of feisty tawaifs during the Partition of India -- prepares to go on the floors, its maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali tells Subhash K Jha just what makes his world of swirling joy and cascading colours so special.

Are you already in directorial mode again?

Gangubai Kathiawadi was my most exhausting film to date. It left me completely sapped. I needed time to get back into the work mode.

But there was no time.

Heeramandi, which I am committed to do, is set to start shooting. Luckily, I am not directing all the episodes.


But knowing you, it is immaterial whether you are directing or not. Your involvement would be complete and unconditional.

True. Actually, every episode of Heeramandi is like an independent feature film. We are not cutting corners or taking shortcuts.

Tell us about the cast of Heeramandi.

All in good time.

It is a vast cast, and we are still casting.

We want justice to be done to every character, big or small.

The casting is full of surprises.

Being a film about song and dance, will music play a vital part in Heeramandi?

Of course, music will be of utmost importance.

But we are not making a Pakeezah or an Umrao Jaan.

There are songs -- quite a few of them -- but the focus will be on the drama.

Music is inbuilt in my DNA.

I grew up listening and hero-worshipping Lata Mangeshkar.

Now when I compose music, I look for traces of her singing in every singer I introduce in my songs.