Sanjay Leela Bhansali (born 24 February 1963) is an Indian film director, producer, screenwriter, and music director. One of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers in Indian cinema, Bhansali is the recipient of several awards, including four National Film Awards and ten Filmfare Awards. In 2015, the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award.
He made his directorial debut with Khamoshi: The Musical (1996), for which he received the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Film. He rose to prominence in Indian cinema with the commercially successful and widely acclaimed romantic drama Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), the romantic drama Devdas (2002) — which received nomination for the Best Foreign Film at British Academy of Film & Television Awards (BAFTA) — and the drama Black (2005), for all of which he received multiple Best Director Awards and Best Film Awards along with additional Critics Award for Best Film for the latter at Filmfare Awards, and multiple National Film Awards for the latter two. However, he followed it by directing consecutive commercially flop films such as Saawariya (2007) and Guzaarish (2010), however, Guzaarish received positive reviews from critics and audiences
This changed with his adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet — the tragic romance Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013) — opened to positive reviews and strong box office collections, for which he received several awards and nominations. His home production biographical sports film Mary Kom (2014), had him receive his third National Film Award. His historical romance Bajirao Mastani (2015) received critical acclaim and emerged as one of the highest-grossing Indian films of all time, for which he won National Film Award for Best Direction, as well as Best Director and Best Film Awards at Filmfare. He is an alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India. He is the founder of the production house Bhansali Productions. Bhansali has adopted the middle name "Leela" as a tribute to his mother,
Bhansali began his career as an assistant to Vidhu Vinod Chopra and was involved in the making of Parinda, 1942: A Love Story and Kareeb. However, they had a falling-out when Bhansali refused to direct Kareeb. In 1996, he made his directorial debut with Khamoshi: The Musical, the commercially unsuccessful but critically acclaimed narration of a daughter's struggle to communicate with her deaf-mute parents. The film earned the Critics Award for Best film at Filmfare. He rose to prominence in Indian cinema with a triangular love story, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, starring Aishwarya Rai, Salman Khan, and Ajay Devgan, which established his individualistic stamp for visual splendour and creating auras of celebration and festivity. The film was premiered in the Indian Panorama section at the 1999 International Film Festival of India. It was a great commercial and critical success, and won numerous awards including four National Awards and nine Filmfare Awards.
His next film, Devdas, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit, was Bhansali's ode to the novel of the same name, which became the highest-grossing film of 2002. The film also received unanimous acclaim from the critics and won all the major accolades at Filmfare, emerging as the most awarded film in Filmfare, (tied with the 1995 Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge). At the 50th National Film Awards, it won five awards including Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. It received a nomination for the Best Foreign Film at the British Academy of Film & Television Awards (BAFTA). It was India's submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film was also screened at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. It stood eighth in Time magazine's "The 10 Greatest Movies of the Millennium (Thus Far)". His next film, Black, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji, broke his own all-time record of Devdas by garnering eleven awards, the highest number of awards ever given to a single film at Filmfare. It stood fifth in Time (Europe)'s "10 Best Movies of the Year 2005" among films from across the world. At 53rd National Film Awards, he received his second National award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas and Black earned him multiple Best Director and Best Film Awards at Filmfare, the latter also received additional Critics Award for Best Film. In 2006, Bhansali participated as a judge on reality TV show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa alongside Farah Khan and Shilpa Shetty.
Bhansali's next film Saawariya (released in 2007) was met with sharp criticism and poor collections at the box office. In 2008, Bhansali staged the opera Padmavati, an adaption of the 1923 ballet written by Albert Roussel. The show premiered in Paris at the prestigious Théâtre du Châtelet and next at the Festival dei Due Mondi, where it received "fifteen minutes of standing ovation and seven curtain calls at the end of the first show." Bhansali received many positive comments from international critics for his work. In 2010, Bhansali released Guzaarish, starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, in which he also made his debut in music direction. The film received positive to mixed reviews from critics, but could not perform well at the box office. Guzaarish earned him a Best Director nomination at Filmfare. In 2011, he became a judge on the Indian music talent show X Factor India Season 1. The same year, he also produced the musical comedy film My Friend Pinto, which also received mixed reviews and tanked at the box office. In 2012, Bhansali produced Rowdy Rathore, a remake of the Telugu film Vikramarkudu, starring Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha and directed by Prabhu Deva. The film received mixed reviews from critics and became a major commercial success, Box Office India labelled it as a blockbuster film. The following year, he produced Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi which also received mixed reviews, but could not perform well at the box office.
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