As Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram Leela celebrates its 10th anniversary, writers Siddharth and Garima share insights into the film’s journey. They discuss their first meeting with Bhansali, the initial brief, the controversies surrounding the film’s title, and the chemistry between Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh. They also mention an anecdote from the set where Bhansali intentionally changed the dialogue to break Deepika’s rhythm, causing her to cry. They further talk about their rapport with the actors and the experience of creating the film’s music.
As Ram Leela, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, approaches its tenth anniversary, authors Siddharth and Garima discuss the film’s trajectory, the controversy surrounding it, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, and more. Take-outs:
Describe your initial encounter with Sanjay Leela Bhattacharya.
Grabima:The first step in Ram Leela’s journey was meeting Sanjay Sir, who we met with thanks to a man named Sandeep Singh. He claims that even though there was no reason for him to accept our proposal, he did remark that when you two entered the room, he made the decision to compose my next in less than a minute.
He had enormous trust and belief in us to come on board because we had never written a film before. Naturally, he instructed us to write a tale based on Romeo and Juliet before approaching him. Shakespeare was initially read by Siddharth and myself. We read the book Shakespeare Made Easy that we had purchased. and after that penned a tale that we adapted. After reading and studying Shakespeare for fifteen days, we told him the narrative that became Ram Leela. We told him ninety-five percent of the narrative. He was astounded. ‘This is amazing,’ he said. His initial remarks were ‘I’m going to rule this out,’ but he quickly became enamored with it. Well, we knew.
How did the initial brief go?
Garima: He displayed two posters to us. Furthermore, the cast you see on the posters is not the current cast. The first poster we saw had Ranbir Kapoor riding a bike in the Ram avatar, which he must have taken when filming a movie with the actor many years ago. Sonam Kapoor, the poster’s protagonist, could have only been a reference image. Kareena Kapoor had to be on board when Ranveer Singh joined. Sanjay sir wasn’t coming off a string of hit movies, therefore Ram Leela had its own casting path. He is an amazing and among the best filmmakers we have ever had. However, it takes time for the world to realize that. That’s what was going on, then. Ram Leela is past now. All actors leap to collaborate with him.
The movie generated its fair share of controversy.
Siddharth: Well, despite the fact that these are the character names, there was a legal dispute over the title of Ram Leela because some political figures believed that this was not Ram Leela. They were forced to rename it Goliyon Ki Raasleela – Ram Leela as a result. The fact that the movie was published under no name made the events in Uttar Pradesh more fascinating. The title of the movie was not displayed on the movie posters. Shakespeare once asked, ‘What’s in a name?’ That struck a chord with Ram Leela.
Regarding Deepika and Ranveer’s chemistry, what are your thoughts?
The SiddharthThe chemistry between Deepika and Ranveer was just as erratic as it was in the writing. Deepika responded that it was all scripted when someone questioned how they had such amazing connection. They both played it to the hilt and wrote it word for word. We used to instruct them the proper way to say a line when we were telling them the story. That was the beginning of the tense talks. That raw, teenage-style sexual energy between two characters has never been attempted before. That contributed significantly to Ram Leela’s edginess. I can still remember that tone.
A story from one of the sets…
The SiddharthIn fact, there’s a really fascinating story from Deepika’s first day of filming. The actor has a rhythm that he carries from home, and Sanjay Sir wants to shatter that. Thus, he was filming the scenario in which they get into a fight. And in an attempt to disrupt her cadence, he altered the conversation’s flow. Despite the fact that we shot the screenplay as originally intended. However, he altered it just to disrupt Deepika’s cadence. For her, it was the first day; she doesn’t think in Hindi. She so broke down in tears. I had to go to her with Garima so we could assist her with the conversation adjustment. In the end, the footage that was captured matched her prepared material, but she did cry on the first day of filming.
On the sets, Sanjay Leela Bhansali is renowned for having a short fuse.
Siddharth: It was a very different experience dealing with Sanjay Sir on site. Because of what we had read in the media, we knew that he struggled with rage. But because of his extremely distinct approach to dealing with actors, going through it personally was really different. He works by disrupting the actor’s cadence. His goal is to establish his own beat. With him, anger is a constant. We had several obstacles throughout the nearly 1.5-year filming period since Sanjay sir also shoots on sets because he feels most at ease there. It was an assignment to force him outside. When he did agree, he did a fantastic job showcasing Udaipur’s outdoor spaces. Even now, many still remember the lake sequence as a significant sequence.
Garima: If you observe, there is a lot of humor in the conversation in the movie. Our connection with Sanjay sir was just like that of Ram and Leela. It deviates from our personalities, which may be the reason we still get along so well now. We both find the same thing funny, and both parties are hilarious. If something amusing is going on in front of us, we could have a quiet conversation. We used to argue and have fun together, but he is not at all what others make him out to be. He may become upset because he finds incompetence offensive and finds it difficult to perform at his level.
How did you get along with the performers on the sets?
The SiddharthRegarding the relationship with the actors, we got along well with Supriya Pathak, Ranveer Singh, and Deepika Padukone. Before then, Ranveer has only acted in two movies. Deepika was a greater star at the time, having just come off the success of a few movies. None of them arrived with the aura of celebrity, so it was a fantastic working experience. Even now, Ranveer Singh remains a friend. Every time Sanjay Sir and Ranveer got into a fight, Sir would order us to tell Ranveer to do a scene a different manner. We served as a barrier between Sanjay sir and the main actors. Working with Gulshan Devaiah, Richa Chadha, Barkha Bisht, and everyone else was an amazing experience. It was a thought-provoking encounter. It’s important to follow a line as closely as you can. Like authors, Sanjay sir and I had high standards for the writing. Each conversation line has a unique rhythm and meter. It would not please Sir if the meter or beat were altered.
Something about the movie’s soundtrack…
The SiddharthWe composed the entire Ram Leela album, so it was a really intriguing experience to create the music for the album. It was unique since, except from Sanjay Sir, no one performs live music these days. Every song was written while musicians would perform live in his home. The script contained the lyrics. Ang Laga De Re, Laal Ishq, and Lahu Munh Lag Gaya were all composed after being written down. Later, Laal Ishq became into a cult hit.
An intriguing occurrence with Laal Ishq exists. The screenplay had the music previously. Thus, when in Lonavala, Sanjay Sir contacted Garima and sang the song. And Laal Ishq is that now.