The new wave of realistic cinema shouldn't undermine the "Bollywood stamp of melodramas", says Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the unapologetic maker of opulent, over-the-top movies like 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam', 'Devdas' and 'Saawariya'.
"I feel that every filmmaker is in a great mood right now! There's a new wave, a new dimension in the industry... but I only hope that in this new wave, we do not lose our great Bollywood stamp of melodramas, song-dance rituals, classic literature and all that form the very distinct Bollywood style of filmmaking," SLB said.
In his initial films, the 48-year-old kept to traditional themes where stories played out in the backdrop of lavishly mounted sets and elaborately dressed actors. He interspersed classical and folk music and dance to add the Indian touch in films like 'Hum Dil De...' and 'Devdas'.
Though he moved away from the genre to go experimental and make films like 'Saawariya' and 'Black', and an emotional drama like 'Guzaarish', Bhansali says he does not want the desi flavour to go away from the Hindi film industry, known the world over for its colourful song and dance routines.
"Of course, we should have different genres like songless films, experimental films, realistic films...but we also must have filmmakers who make the kind of films that I make...films like 'Devdas', like the Bollywood musicals which the West is interested in. That breed of young filmmakers, able to shoot a song with lavishness, is something I am still not seeing coming in.
"Maybe they are distancing themselves from it. There's a tendency in the young filmmaker to look down upon the traditional Bollywood film, the classical kind of filmmaking...that shouldn't be there. Running with a hand-held camera through the lanes is as difficult as any other shot. So I think we should hold on to all different genres," Bhansali said.
Interestingly however, as a producer, Bhansali is treading a new path with projects like 'My Friend Pinto', 'Rowdy Rathore' and 'Shirin Farhad Ki Nikal Padi'. But as a director, he wants to go back to his original love.
"I'm dying to make a full on song-dance melodrama. I am in an upbeat mood...it will be in the 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam' space. I am giving finishing touches to the script. In some time, I will get down to begin work on it.
Prodded a little further, he added: "It will be my style. The audience comes to me and tells me - 'We loved 'Black', we loved 'Guzaarish', but we want 'Hum Dil...', we want 'Devdas'.' So I wonder what is it about those films that still holds and makes the audience hungry for it.
"Also, it is best to do what comes naturally to you. I've done 'Black', I've done 'Guzaarish'...I have explored and experimented, but now it is important to go home and do a masala film with my sensibilities intact."