With repetitive formulas and promises of selling an experience, Bhansali and Salman aren’t all that different.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum-opus Padmaavat is finally out in theaters amid tight security. For over a year, the film has been in the news and most of it was because the director had to cross a hurdle every few months just to shoot and then release his project. Padmaavat isn’t a novel film. If one has seen a few of Bhansali’s films, they know what to expect from this one, yet we end up in the theater every single time. That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? That brings me to the headline of this article, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Salman Khan aren’t all that different.
Allow me to draw a few parallels between the two.
Salman Khan is often criticised for making the same film over and over again. ‘Bhai ki film’ has ‘Bhai’ as the hero doing ‘Bhai’ things which keeps his audience entertained repeatedly. If you ask a viewer about what happened in Tiger Zinda Hai or Sultan, they would simply describe them as ‘Salman type films’, which is a genre in itself. Bhansali is one of the few directors who enjoys a genre to his name. His films are synonymous with grandeur and we are often served the same dish in a different setting.
Another similarity between these two is how these guys are at the center of various controversies. Salman Khan has been controversy’s favourite child for decades now. Salman’s misjudged remarks and many of his actions have landed the actor in court. SLB isn’t much different. The director’s films are usually embroiled in controversy and even though he doesn’t invite them, he is always the one who ends up justifying his creative actions. These two are known for their films but usually stay relevant in the public memory because of their controversial episodes.
Salman’s critics and fans are both aware of the fact that story isn’t the hero in his films. They are in the movie theater to have an experience. An experience where a larger than life hero will emerge victorious no matter what the odds and Salman fulfills those expectations. Bhansali, on the other hand, isn’t that different. He invites his viewers for a different kind of experience. Watching a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film feels like walking through a museum. Every frame is picturesque and every element of the frame is chosen carefully to enhance the aesthetic appeal. Both these men have a vast audience that dedicatedly follows their work and it’s mainly because they are looking forward to having a good time at the movies. It’s the experience they are buying the tickets for.
If you have been following the past few films by Sanjay Leela Bhansali you would know what the director is known for. His strength lies in creating the most exquisite sets, costumes and jewelery that make your jaw drop in awe. Story telling isn’t his strongest suit and we have seen in his previous films that he excels in beautifying the frame rather than using it convey a message.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Salman Khan are both put on a pedestal when it comes to Hindi cinema, for different reasons of course. Salman is applauded for the big box office numbers that are simply unmatched and Bhansali is appreciated for his strong aesthetics. Now fans of the art of cinema know that there is much more to the movies that the money it made or how pretty it looked, it is the package that clicks with us and there isn’t any formula for the same. But these two men seemed to have figured out what works for them and are completely unabashed in presenting it time and again.
Salman Khan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali are the kind of men who will be remembered for their legacy in cinema. These are the men who have stuck around for decades, been through failures and saw massive successes, yet, they are as formulaic as one could get.