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Final Production Notes - Saawariya
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Saawariya means “beloved.” But he’s not just any beloved. He’s the dusky, blue tinged (savla) God Krishna who is adored as Saawariya. On a more sublime note, Saawariya is the beloved who is always in love. But not every lover can qualify as Saawariya. Only the lover who stands the test of time…who overcomes all obstacles…who doesn’t care whether he gets the girl or not…as long as he’s consumed by love…as long as he remains in a perpetual state of “being in love…”

That man, that rare lover, is Saawariya.

Director’s Notes – Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s perspective on Saawariya

Black received such an unprecedented response, that I could have been in danger of being lulled into a creative safe zone, of resting on my laurels. But that’s not me. I constantly need to challenge myself, to push the envelope, to set higher standards for myself. To make sure that I continue to grow as an artist, I knew my next movie would be totally different; not just from Black but from all the movies I’ve done so far.

Saawariya is a simple but exotic love story. True love is divine. It has to have yearning, disappointment and agony. For Saawariya, I needed fresh youthful energy and joy. My previous movies had all starred established actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit and Rani Mukherjee.

For Saawariya

I needed two young newcomers and I found them in Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor. Ranbir and Sonam became like my children and the time spent with them gave me a fresh perspective on life and new way to look at film. I suddenly felt alive again.

Working with these kids was a challenge in itself. Not just teaching them all that I know, but constantly doubting myself..,do I know enough to teach them? Will I succeed in bringing out their inherent potential and making them live up to their formidable legacies?

In addition to my lead actors, I also had a novice music director! When Monty Sharma created the background score for my films Black and Devdas; I recognized that special spark in him. With Saawariya he’s evolved into a full fledged music director. Monty, an exhilarating blend of spirituality, youth and creative genius spent more than two years composing and perfecting the 10 songs for Saawariya. There were many firsts in this film. I introduced two new singers– Shail Hada and Parthiv Gohil, and I also roped in Anuradha Vakil and Rajesh Pratap Singh to do the costumes, and it’s the first time that these two well known designers have designed for film.

The Music of Saawariya

Sanjay’s films have always made a deep emotional connection with audiences everywhere due to their visual splendor and the soulful and melodious music that accompanies every mood. With Saawariya , he takes the Bollywood musical to a different level altogether. Monty Sharma’s soulful and melodious score for Saawariya continues Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s tradition of bringing memorable music to the screen.

Commenting on the music of Saawariya, Sanjay expressed his desire to work with artists who are new to film. “I initially hired Monty Sharma to do the background score for Black and Devdas, and I recognized that special spark of inspiration in him so for Saawariya

he composed the full score. Monty is an exhilarating blend of spirituality, youth and mad creative genius. He spent more than two years composing and perfecting the 10 songs for the Saawariya soundtrack. My singers Shail and Parthiv also help to bring the score alive.”

Monty Sharma, excited about his debut as Music Director on Saawariya as well as the opportunity to be a part of the rich legacy of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s memorable film music, added: “Working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali means there are no shortcuts – only absolute and complete perfection!” He further added, “the songs of Saawariya are neither purely western nor classical Indian – but a fusion of both. The mood is very simple, very passionate. The music is all body and soul – the rhythm is the body, the melody the soul. It’s the kind of music that will appeal to all.”

The lyricist for the film, Sameer, was also delighted to be a part of a team led by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and to work with talented composer Monty Sharma. “Sanjay Leela Bhansali is one of our finest movie makers, and takes music very seriously. He gave me a lot of valuable input and you can see the passion in his eyes when he talks about music. I feel honored that he chose to work with me. He called me because Saawariya

needed very simple and youthful lyrics. Monty is new to the industry but a very talented composer and I was inspired by his melodies,” said Sameer.

There are no less than 10 songs in Saawariya and for Monty Sharma this meant two and a half years of intense, concentrated work. “That in itself was a challenge for me, because I’m a ‘finish-a-job-and-get out’ kind of person,” he admits.

As if the challenge of working for a perfectionist like Sanjay Leela Bhansali wasn’t enough, Monty chose to introduce two new singers in the film.

“Shail Hada and Parthiv Gohil had both sung some alaaps for me previously and I knew the quality of their voices. Shail sung the title track and its reprise, while Parthiv sung Yoon Shabnami. The rest of the songs were performed by established singers such as Shaan, Kunal Ganjawala, Alka Yagnik and Shreya Ghoshal.”

Elaborating further on the music, he said: “The songs of Saawariya are neither purely western nor classical Indian – but a fusion of both. The mood is very simple, very passionate. The music is original. It is not inspired by any other movie soundtracks. The songs are very simple and straightforward. I belong to a musical family and I have been highly influenced by my uncle Pyarelalji’s genre of music. So my school of music has always been very lavish and grand. Music has always had that grandeur for me, which we always associate with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films. He never interfered in my work and encouraged me to compose whatever I thought would suit his movie-making style. The music is all body and soul – the rhythm is the body, the melody the soul. It’s the kind of music that will appeal to people of all ages. What else can I say but that the songs of Saawariya will bring a smile to your face!”


Saawariya soundtrack highlights:

Ten songs, each one delicately and beautifully composed by first-time music director Monty Sharma with lyrics penned by the ‘romance specialist’, Sameer.

The peppy title track Saawariya, is sung by newcomer Shail Hada and includes a memorable theme tune.

“Masha-Allah” which means ‘the wonderful thing that God has willed – in other words some thing extraordinary,’ was the particular word that Sanjay Leela Bhansali loved, and the entire song was composed and written with this one word in mind.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali illustrated his multiple talents and mastery in music by composing the next track Thode Badmash, himself!

Yoon Shabnami, sung by newcomer Parthiv Gohil was a challenge because for a romantic song, it swings into a quawali (song sung in the praise of Allah) all the while staying true to its intrinsically romantic feel.

“Daras Bina Nahin Chain” is the essence and power of Indian ragas, arranged in a contemporary style.

The classical “Sawar Gayi” is sung with great intensity by Shreya Ghoshal who takes the listener to an entirely different spiritual level.

“Jaan-E-Jaan,” sung by Kunal Ganjawala and Shreya Ghoshal, is the most complicated track on the soundtrack with its rich orchestration. “It’s huge, like an opera,” says Monty.

“Pari” by Kunal Ganjawala is a fairy tale told with music, created with a broad range of string instruments.

“Chhabeela” by Alka Yagnik follows the popular format of Hindi movie music from the 1970s.

Director of Photography Ravi K Chandran talks about the “look” of Saawariya

The outstanding use of the camera in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black, took Indian cinematography to another level and the film won multiple awards throughout the India. Saawariya is his second collaboration with DP Ravi K Chandran.

“It was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s goal to give Saawariya a visually poetic theme,” commented Ravi. “His aim was to make the images for Saawariya more like paintings rather than just photographic images. So we started by looking at the paintings of artists like Frederick Arthur Bridgman, Fred R Wagner and William Louis Sonntag as references.”

Although set mostly outdoors at night, Saawariya was shot completely on indoor sets. “This gave us complete freedom to create the ambience and mood of the movie from scratch. Though the story unfolds over four nights, we wanted the different times of the night to look distinctive.”

For the first time in India, space lights have been used in a variety of ways. “The painterly look of this film was made possible because of space lights, which we gelled with ¼ CT Blue for a cool night feel and used without gels for the daylight scenes. The main advantage of this lighting was that it did not catch the smoke and gave an unlit look to the image,” explains Ravi.

But his biggest challenge was to maintain a consistent look throughout the film. The movie was shot on eight sets and in the story, the actors move from one set to another on the same night. “But we were shooting these scenes with gaps of few months in between due to construction and deconstruction time and to complicate matters, the story demanded changing weather - from windy, misty nights to rain.”

To achieve consistency Ravi maintained complete lighting records and photographs of each scene. He also used the same film stock and constant level of exposure throughout the film.

“We wanted to achieve “painterly” mood lighting for the entire film. The idea was to have a dark unlit quality for the night but the actors had to be constantly lit. The key was to strike a balance between the two. The camera was static almost throughout the movie, making it look like a painting on canvas with the actors performing within that space. Every frame of the film looks like a painting. Every song was shot and lit differently and each stands apart from the other. The experience has been magical and very fulfilling.”

The Sets of Saawariya: Art Director, Omung Kumar, brings to life Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s vision

Even before the release of the film, Omung Kumar’s set designs for Saawariya were the talk of the town.

Saawariya

is sheer poetry in motion,” Omung exclaims. “From the day we read the script to the final day of shoot we were on a constant creative high. The brief by Sanjay was to go all out creatively and we were only too glad to do so! Designing sets for ‘Saawariya’ was like creating visual poetry on film. Every frame had to have a soul, a style and feel of surrealism. That’s why we decided to create sets in the palette of blues and greens. It added a certain style, look and feel of being transported to a world that anybody would love to live in. Personally I would love to live in a town like this if it existed.”

From creating a larger than life Buddha to constructing lakes and specially designed boats to setting up busy streets with buzzing streets with shops, lights and neon signs, Omung had a blast.

“We painted the walls and floors with peacock and lotuses transporting us into a world which is essentially very Indian yet not like anyone has ever seen before,” he says.

A lot of thought went into creating the elegant Christian lady - Lillian’s (Zohra Sehgal) house. “Each and every prop in the room was hand picked from the picture frames, the alter, to the paintings and the furniture. The main focus of the set was a hand painted Mona Lisa curtain which ultimately became a central part of a very beautiful scene which features a song by Ranbir.

In complete contrast was Rani Mukherjee’s room. “Situated on a busy street with shops and a colorful night life, it was great fun decorating the street, especially Rani’s room. We tried to match her flamboyant character with deep magenta walls enhanced with glitter, a crystal chandelier, pink and purple lotuses and a mirror mosaic staircase. It was a complete riot,” he laughs.

The heroine, Sonam’s house was probably the toughest to do, because the brief specified a haveli (mansion) that had a history of carpet making.

“We designed and created blue green carpets and a huge carpet making contraption. From a dressing room with mirrors of different shapes with carved frames suspended in air; to Salman’s room that had a stark beautiful quality with just a bed, desk and an interesting ceiling fan created from a carpet pulled by a rope; to the house exterior on which we painted white peacocks at the entrance to add that pure untouched quality; Sonam’s house was a visual splendor. The best shots of the film were done here.”

He continues, “All the outdoor scenes were created indoors, on a set. A certain timeless quality permeates every frame of each set - from the clock tower to the pre-dominantly positioned RK logo, from the silent bridge to the still waters of the lake. We had to create a town where it snowed and rained and looked different as the seasons changed without shifting away from the blue green color scheme! Saawariya was as challenging as it was exciting but we can proudly say that every frame is a visual delight.”

A Conversation with the Costume Designers

Rajesh Pratap Singh is often called the Greta Garbo of Indian fashion and is one of the most reclusive Indian designers around today. Critically acclaimed for his design style, Singh grants few interviews, is almost never seen at parties and doesn’t even walk the runway at the end of his shows for the mandatory bow.

Understandably, he was baffled when Sanjay Leela Bhansali asked him to design for three of the actors – Salman Khan, Zohra Sehgal and Begum Para.

“Salman is such a huge star, but he is so charming and so charismatic,” Rajesh says. “Since he is ‘the mysterious stranger’ I’ve given him a slightly military look and bingo, it worked for Sanjay. As for Zohra, I’m totally besotted with her. She’s truly the grand dame who loves to hold court. And what a memory she has! In the movie she’s an Anglo Indian lady with a colorful past, so I’ve dressed her in a lot of chintz prints. Though I never met Begum Para, she’s such a legend in her own right and I’ve heard so much about her from my father that I felt I knew her personally and then the unit also sent me plenty of photographs of her. She’s this old Muslim lady in the movie and her look is conservative yet stylized. I had to do some research to get the correct length of the kurta and the exact drape of the dupatta just right.”

Reza Shariffi

is a professional fashion designer for the last 15 years, he has worked on several movies including: Mohabbat, Wajood, Gaja Gamini, Hindustani, Hey Ram, Kaho Na Pyar Hai, Filhaal, Deewaanapan, Rahena Hai Tere Dil Mein. He won a National Award for Devdas for which he designed costumes for all the male characters except Shah Rukh Khan. He also created some of Madhuri Dixit’s costumes.

“I liked Bhansali’s work in 1942, A Love Story and Khamoshi, The Musical. When Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was released, my wish was that I could work with him and someone up there heard me and

Devdas happened. When he announced Saawariya I wished again, and my wish was granted!” laughs Reza. Working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali is both tough and easy. Tough, because he is very clear about what he wants and he does not compromise, easy because neither do I!”

Reza designed mainly for the male lead Ranbir Kapoor. “His costumes were mainly khakis, whites and maroons. Authenticity is what I was told to bring out, so I’ve used a lot of vintage fabrics like velvets, a lot of layering, more tone on tone; but everything is muted, nothing screams. These are normal day to day clothes but put together differently. I also had to design Muslim, Anglo Indian, Colonial British and some Hindu costumes in the hues of blue and green and it was a refreshing change to make authentic clothes from a bygone era.”

Anuradha Vakil is one of India’s most unlikely designers. Armed with a Masters’ in Business Administration from Michigan, in the U.S., she worked for a large corporation She then left that world taking the skills she had learned to a new career in design driven by her passion for Indian textile crafts. For the past 12 years, her entire body of work, epitomized by the name of design company, Noor, has striven to ensure its survival by making it relevant to contemporary fashion.

“Initially I hesitated,” she admits when Sanjay Leela Bhansali called her for a meeting. “Mainly because I did not see my work fitting in to the genre of commercial films. My work in fashion is deeply rooted in crafts and you don’t see that often in mainstream cinema. But, I was also acutely aware what a visionary Sanjay is. Having admired his work, my instinct told me to trust this artist par-excellence. I went to the first meeting….and was bowled over completely!”

Anuradha designed the costumes for the two female actors Sonam and Rani Mukherjee. “The color palette was derived from the look of the movie and the silhouettes came from Sanjay’s and my common love for kathak and appreciation of Islamic arts and culture. I have used a lot of antique fabrics and weaves like appliqué, ikat and kalabootan embroidery. A lot of thought and effort went into creating Rani's look. She’s a woman who loves attention, likes to be noticed…and her clothes had to reflect that.”

Anuradha shared a story from the set which illustrates the challenges of her work: “I had this antique white/red/ black odhna and Sanjay loved it on sight and said he would use it in a major song sequence. Then his production team called me and told me that since it would be used in a boat song, I would have to have a duplicate ready in case the original got wet! How on earth do I get duplicate of an antique piece?” she exclaims in mock horror. It took her four months and all her contacts to source out a “similar, if not exact’ odhna!

“As a fashion designer, you are used to having complete creative control,” she says. “You can indulge all your whims and can afford to get carried away. But, for a film, you have to create within certain boundaries. You need to do what is appropriate for the characters, the film and be in sync with the director’s vision. In fact, throughout this journey, I chose to see Sanjay Leela Bhansali as the master painter and myself as an apprentice who only mixes the colors!”

CAST AND CREW PROFILES

Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Director)

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is perhaps India’s most acclaimed movie director. His middle name, Leela, is a tribute to his mother, who told him early in life, “The dreams are yours, the nightmares are mine.” These words have been imprinted on his psyche since then. His body of work has been in a class by itself. From his very first endeavor, Khamoshi, through

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam to Devdas, and his most recent critically acclaimed film, Black; his movies have epitomized sensitivity and embodied visual splendor.

Khamoshi – The Musical, which he wrote and directed, depicted the screaming silences in the world of the deaf and dumb, and won him the Filmfare Critics Award for best film. “Khamoshi remains my favorite ‘child,’ because it was my first-born. It had far more conviction, and was a gutsier topic to tackle in a popular format. The performances were superlative,” he asserts.

He proved to be destiny’s child with his second film, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam - written, produced and directed by Bhansali. The story was inspired by a folk tale from Gujarat and Bernard Shaw’s Candida. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam created such an atmosphere of joy that audiences thrilled to every minute of it.

It won the Filmfare Awards for best film, best director, and best screenplay; the Lux Zee Cine Awards for the best film, best director and best screenplay; the Screen Awards for best film, best director and best screenplay, and the IFFA Awards for best film, best director and best screenplay.

His third film was based on Sarat Chandra Chatterjee’s immortal novel Devdas, written in 1917. With Devdas, Bhansali set new industry benchmarks by winning several honors at home, the most prominent of which was the nomination as India’s official entry to the Oscars®. International recognition for Bhansali came when Devdas won the ‘Asian Film Award’ at the MTV Asia Awards; received a nomination in the ‘Best Film not in the English Language’ at the BAFTA awards, and was premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. This grand commercial and critical success catapulted Sanjay Leela Bhansali to the top echelon of Indian film directors.

And then Sanjay Leela Bhansali made the groundbreaking film Black, a sensitive story of the relationship between a deaf and blind child and her teacher. Black was selected by Time magazine’s influential critic Richard Corliss as one of the 10 best films of 2005, along with films like Werner Herzog's The White Diamond & Grizzly Man; Ingmar Bergman's Saraband; Fernando Meirelles' The Constant Gardener;

and Rob Marshall's Memoirs Of A Geisha.

Citing his reasons for this great honor, Corliss wrote, “This is an unusual film for India: no songs, a running time under two hours, and most of the dialogue’s in English; yet it became a box office hit. It could also be a test for Western audiences unused to the fever pitch of Indian melodrama; they may need a warning label. Caution: Extreme Sentiment (May be Contagious).”

In his latest film, Saawariya, Sanjay Leela Bhansali tells a magical love story that spans all of four nights! He breaks with convention regarding treatment; sets; lighting design; and above all, casting.

Making their debut in Saawariya are Bollywood’s most exciting newcomers – Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the demanding director, transforms himself into a gentle teacher, as he taps the immense potential of his charges, turning them into actors he vows will be forces to reckon with for years to come.

Ranbir Kapoor (actor)

Ranbir Kapoor hails from the “first family” of India Cinema. Founded by the legendary Prithviraj Kapoor, the legacy was carried on by his son ‘showman’ Raj Kapoor, who launched the eponymous RK banner, which dominated the Hindi film industry for decades. Raj Kapoor was perhaps the first of the superstars in Indian cinema; while his brothers, Shashi and Shammi, went on to become stars in their own right. Four generations of the Kapoor family have contributed greatly to Indian Cinema by way of acting, directing and producing.

Raj Kapoor’s descendants have carried on the family legacy. It is into this legacy that Ranbir Kapoor was born. The grandson of Raj Kapoor and son of one of India’s most romantic on-screen couples - Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, - Ranbir makes his debut in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya. Even before the release of his first movie, Ranbir is already being touted as the most sought after talent in Indian cinema.

Sonam Kapoor (actor)

Sonam Kapoor’s debut in Saawariya is perhaps the most anticipated launch of any talent in the recent years. Her pedigree comes from her father Anil Kapoor, who happens to be one of the most established and decorated actors in Indian Cinema. His contribution to Indian film has won him many accolades, most strikingly his “Best Actor” Awards in 1988, 1998 and 2001. Sonam Kapoor is expected to be the next big actress in Bollywood.



Rani Mukherjee (actor)

Rani Mukherjee is a six-time Filmfare Award-winning Bollywood actress who has made an immense impact at the box office with her powerful award-winning performances. Having made her debut in 1992, she tasted commercial success in 1998 with Aamir Khan (amongst India’s top 3 talents) in Ghulam. Ever since, she has been an integral part of Bollywood, continually delivering commercially successful performances. She has been featured in Filmfare’s annual power list of Bollywood female stars for three consecutive years (2004-2006). Some of her most famous films have included

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai; Black, Saathiya; Hum Tum,; and Bunty Aur Bubli. She received critical acclaim for her portrayal as Michelle McNally, a deaf and blind student in the movie Black, which was selected by Time Magazine as #5 on the list of “Best Movies of 2005.” Rani Mukerjee was named fourth on the All Time Best Bollywood Actress Ever Listing for Women's International Day 2007. She comes from a film-oriented family of Bengali origin. Her father, Ram Mukherjee, is a retired director; her mother, Krishna, is a playback singer; her brother, Raja, a film producer and director; and her cousin, Kajol, is a leading Bollywood actress.

Salman Khan (actor)

Salman Khan is the eldest son of India’s most celebrated screenwriter, Salim Khan, is one of India’s top talents and among the “Top 3” stars in Indian cinema. This immensely popular actor had a dream debut in 1990 with “Maine Pyar Kiya”, which

went on to become one of the highest grossing films in the country. His second film with Sooraj Barjatya, “Hum Aapke Hain Koun”, catapulted him to superstardom and among the top 3, where he has remained ever since. One of Bollywood’s most enigmatic actors, Salman Khan has entertained audiences the world over with his sensational performances, and was crowned the “Most Sensational Actor” by the Bollywood Movie Awards in 2002. He is arguably the biggest draw at a Bollywood musical stage show anywhere in the world. Having worked in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Khamoshi, he then worked with Bhansali in the top grossing musical Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Saawariya will be Salman Khan’s third film with his favorite director. Salman’s tremendous contribution to Indian Cinema can be measured by the fact that he has consistently been associated with the top grossing Hindi films and, till date, continues to wow audiences with his charismatic performances.

Ravi K. Chandran (Director Of Photography)

Having won the Filmfare award for Best Cinematography for his first Hindi movie

Virasat, Ravi K. Chandran went on to win 30 awards including 4 Filmfare awards for films like Kandukondain Kandukundain (Tamil); Sapne (Hindi); Dil Chahta Hai; Calcutta Mail (Hindi); Boys (Tamil); Kannathil Muthamital; Aayutha Ezuthu (Tamil); Yuva, Paheli, Fanaa; and Black (Hindi).

Omung Kumar (Art Director)

TV anchor, model, creative director, and set designer – this multi-faceted man wears many hats, all of them with great aplomb. Over the last ten years he has designed over 180 sets for TV shows and serials. He has designed and executed sets for numerous major events including: Femina Miss India, the Ceat Cricket Awards, the Stardust Awards, as well as for films like Jhankar Beats; Fidaa, Masti; Ishq Vishq; Chameli; Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein; Na Tum Jaano Na Hum; and Dil Hai Tumhara. For Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black, Omung Kumar recreated Simla, complete with its Mall in Mumbai!

Monty Sharma (Music Director)

Having studied music with his grandfather, the late Pandit Ram Prasad Sharma, and having played keyboard for his uncle - the legendary music director Pyarelalji, music literally runs in Monty Sharma’s blood. This young music director makes his debut with Saawariya, and is naturally excited by the opportunity to be a part of the rich legacy of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s memorable music. “I have never planned anything in life,” he admits. “I had composed the background scores for

Devdas, and then Sanjayji offered me Black. I had composed a song for Black, but it wasn’t featured in the movie and was only available on CD, so it wasn’t widely heard. But Sanjayji loved my work. I never knew that I would be doing Saawariya till Sanjayji offered it to me.” He continues, “Working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali means there are no shortcuts – only absolute and complete perfection!”


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