Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas remains to this day one of the most lavish and high-budgeted films of all times. It wasn’t easy making it, as the producer Bharat Shah, accused of alleged underworld connections, was in and out of courts and hospitals while the epic was being shot at a budget that boggled the mind.
“We literally didn’t have money for the next day’s shooting. I’d be at the hospital in the evenings waiting for Bharatbhai to sign vouchers, hoping the funds for the next day’s shoot would materialize anyhow,” shudders Bhansali to this day.
Given the bleak financial prospects, two of the lead actors Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai willingly shot without getting paid. But one day the film’s third lead Madhuri Dixit decided to put her foot down.
Madhuri Dixit refused to shoot until she was paid. Recalls an eyewitness, “She locked herself in her van and refused to come out until she was paid. It was horrific. Everyone, Shah Rukh, Ash, Jackie Dada, supporting actors and technicians waited on the lavish set. Madame Dixit was nowhere to be seen She sent a message saying she would shoot only when paid.”
The harried director had to leave the shooting and frantically arrange for some cash—don’t ask where he got it from-- before Madame Dixit descended on to the set.
Shooting resumed. But something broke. Bhansali never worked with the actress again.