Meet director who grew up in chawl, saw women selling themselves for Rs 20, now worth Rs 940 crores, still single at 61

Meet director who grew up in chawl, saw women selling themselves for Rs 20, now worth Rs 940 crores, still single at 61

Sanjay Leela Bhansali grew up in a one-room chawl at Bhuleshwar, and he used to sitch falls on sarees with his mother to make ends meet.

In Bollywood, few directors believe in making visual spectacles. Their films are hailed magnum opus, due to the eye-popping visuals, grand sets, and high production of their films. Among them is Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The director is known for helming big-budget dramas, that are high on scale and backed by rich content. Currently, the director is basking in the glory of his latest creation, his OTT debut show, Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar. However, here we will discuss the tough, inspiring journey of Bhansali that made him one of the biggest directors in India. 

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s early childhood 

Sanjay Leela Bhansali was born on 24 February 1963, in Bhuleshwar, Bombay. Sanjay was brought up in a one-room chawl and his mother, Leela took up the responsibility of running the household. Sanjay’s father was an alcoholic and he didn’t share a good relationship with him. Bhansali’s mother took the job of a dancer in the theatre and would sew clothes at night. In a 2002 interview with Simi Garewal, Sanjay and his mother recalled that to make ends meet, they would collect sarees from a nearby shop and stitch falls onto them. “Shaam ko jaake sarees leke aate the hum dukan se aur raat tak baith ke fall lagate the. Kabhi 4 saree milti thi, kabhi 12 saree milti thi, kabhi 24 saree milti thi so that was there, we had to face it.” 

When Sanjay saw women selling themselves for Rs 20

In his filmography, Sanjay has depicted the plight of sex workers and tawaifs (read Devdas, Gangubai Kathaiwadi). His recent show is also based on courtesans of Lahore’s Heeramandi. Bhansali’s portrayal of leading ladies is fascinating and poignant, and the reason behind this is his childhood memories. In an interview with Film Companion, Bhansali shared that as a kid, he would see sex workers every day as he walked from school to home. He recalled that he saw sex workers indicating to customers that their rate was Rs 20. As a kid, Bhansali wondered how a person’s rate at Rs 20.

When Sanjay decided to change his destiny 

Sanjay began his career by assisting Vidhu Vinod Chopra on Parinda, 1942: A Love Story, and Kareeb. Later he directed his first film, Khamoshi: The Musical (1996). Although his first film tanked, he gained critical acclaim. Later, he directed Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and became one of the biggest blockbusters of that year. He directed huge money spinners, including, Black, Gooliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, Bajirao Mastani, and Padmaavat. 

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s love life

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films are testimony to true love. But the director has never found true love in real life. Even today at 61, Sanjay is still looking for companionship. Reportedly, during Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Bhansali and choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant were dating. But soon they broke up, and he remained single. 

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s net worth 

As per several media reports, his massive net worth is estimated to be around Rs 940 crores, which makes him one of the richest directors in the Indian film industry.

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