'Devdas' experience helped Bhansali with 'Padmavati'

Bollywood star Sharukh Khan (L) and director of Hindi film 'Devdas' Sanjay Leela Bhansali pose for photographers during the world premiere of the film in Mumbai, July 11, 2002. REUTERS/Roy Madhur/Files

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Bollywood filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s experience with extravagant productions like “Devdas” and “Saawariya” came in handy while directing an opera in Paris.

‘Padmavati’, Bhansali’s rendition of a 1923 opera ballet written by Albert Roussel, received a standing ovation at its premiere on Friday at the Theatre du Chatelet.

“I wasn’t completely familiar with the opera but the films I had done before, the preciseness with which I had made them helped me immensely,” Bhansali told Reuters in a telephone interview over the weekend. “Sometimes being a perfectionist is a boon.”

There had been enough problems for the first Indian to direct an opera in Paris, including a cast that could barely understand English. Bhansali was forced to use a translator.

“Some could speak broken English and understood little and the rest did not know the language at all,” he said. “I was so nervous initially that I wanted to run back to India.”

‘Padmavati’, the story of a Rajasthani woman fighting for her love and her pride, will be staged five more times in March.

Bhansali hasn’t directed any film since the box-office debacle of “Saawariya” last year.

“I don’t know if I can say that I’m on a break,” he said. “It was so tiring for the past months…my mind has never gone through so much of creative exercise.”