Sanjay Leela Bhansali opens up on Sharmin Segal's performance in Heeramandi: She kept saying ‘Mama, I’ll underplay' | Web Series - Hindustan Times
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Sanjay Leela Bhansali opens up on Sharmin Segal's performance in Heeramandi: She kept saying ‘Mama, I’ll underplay'

ByDevansh Sharma
May 23, 2024 01:54 PM IST

In an exclusive interview, Sanjay Leela Bhansali talks about working with a range of actors in Heeramandi, from Manisha Koirala to his niece Sharmin Segal.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is credited with bringing out the best performances of his actors, whether it's Aishwarya Rai in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Rani Mukerji in Black, Deepika Padukone in Bajirao Mastani, Ranveer Singh in Padmaavat, or Alia Bhatt in Gangubai Kathiawadi. His latest release, Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar, has a wide range of actors, from his first leading lady Manisha Koirala to his niece Sharmin Segal. (Also Read: When Sharmin Segal cried after Sanjay Leela Bhansali didn't approve her shot post 30 takes)

Sanjay Leela Bhansali opens up on his niece Sharmin Segal's performance in Heeramandi
Sanjay Leela Bhansali opens up on his niece Sharmin Segal's performance in Heeramandi

Bhansali on Sharmin

Sharmin, who has assisted Bhansali on all his recent directorials, made her acting debut with his 2019 production Malaal. In her streaming debut, which could serve as her re-launchpad, Sharmin plays Alamzeb, the daughter of Heeramandi brothel madam Mallikajaan (Manisha Koirala), who dreams of a future outside of the courtesan's fate. However, the audience panned her rather bland performance, claiming that she stuck out among the more seasoned cast.

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While neither Sharmin nor Bhansali opened up on the criticism towards her portrayal, the filmmaker shared with us exclusively how he worked with Sharmin on the sets. “She kept saying, ‘Mama, I’ll underplay.' I said, ‘Underplay? Are you thinking I’m going to ask you to overplay?”

Bhansali, however, added that he found her “new energy” fascinating. “I know that they (the new generation of actors) love me as much. I can see it in the way (they ask me), ‘Are you happy? Should we do one more take? Can we do it one more time? Are you okay? I can see that love in their eyes. Now that’s very rare,” he added.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the cast on the sets of Heeramandi
Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the cast on the sets of Heeramandi

Bhansali on Manisha

While on one hand, Bhansali had Sharmin, on the other, he reunited with his first leading lady, Manisha Koirala. She first worked with Bhansali on Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 1994 period drama 1942: A Love Story, in which Bhansali directed her in memorable songs like Pyaar Hua Chupke Se and Kuchh Na Kaho. He then cast her in his 1996 directorial debut, Khamoshi: The Musical. Manisha got a call from him over 15 years later for the role of Mallikajaan in Heeramandi.

“She sat on the set every time for 7 hours, putting mehendi and then giving two shots. She'd go home, put the mehendi for seven hours again the next day, give two shots again and then go home. It's unbearable," said Bhansali. “And yet she gave me the best takes in those two shots. The scene in which she says, ‘Chaand baramde mein utarta nahi.’ I knew she got her sur there itself. She looked just splendid. So each one is giving me something to take home,” added Bhansali.

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