Sanjay Leela Bhansali is considered one of the most well respected mainstream directors of his generation. He has created a niche for himself with his operatic and visually rich imagination which translates into opulent sets and powerful characters. Bhansali grew up in Mumbai’s popular Bhuleshwar area. His father was a small producer who died due to alcohol abuse while his mother was a dancer. Before he could graduate from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Bhansali joined Vidhu Vinod Chopra as an assistant and worked with him on Parinda (1989) and 1942: A Love Story (1994). For Bhansali’s debut film, Khamoshi: The Musical (1996), Nana Patekar played the deaf-mute father of the aspiring singer Annie (Manisha Koirala) whose dreams are thwarted by her responsibilities towards her disabled parents. Beautifully shot by Anil Mehta with a lilting musical score by Jatin-Lalit, the film failed at the box-office but was received well by critics. With Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) Bhansali established his extravagant style––elaborate dance pieces set to wonderful music by newcomer Ismail Darbar and heightened emotional exchanges between characters driven by their passions. It was a film that showcased Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s acting potential with able support from Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn. In Devdas (2002) he gave Saratchandra Chatterjee’s novel a beautiful interpretation, shooting on a lavish set at Film City with Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit in the lead. The film was a commercial success, paving the way for his ambitious Black (2005) inspired by the story of Helen Keller’s relationship with her half-blind teacher which was the subject of the Hollywood film, The Miracle Worker (1962). Bhansali cast Amitabh Bachchan as the teacher and Rani Mukherji played his deaf-blind student whom he trains to communicate through perseverance and dint of force. The film was a huge critical success followed by the high-profile debut of two star kids––Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor––in Saawariya (2007), based on Dostoevsky’s White Nights. The film was not successful at the box-office but launched the successful careers of the newcomers. In Guzaarish (2010), Bhansali returned to his exploration of differently-abled characters. The film is an un-credited adaptation of the Spanish film The Sea Inside (2004) based on the true life story of Ramon Sampedro who fought a 30-year campaign in favour of euthanasia and his own right to die after being completely paralysed in a diving accident. Hrithik Roshan played the protagonist Ethan and garnered much acclaim for his performance. This film also marked Bhansali’s debut as music composer. His next, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013), an interpretation of the Shakespearean classic Romeo & Juliet, set in a colourful Gujarati milieu starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, was a huge success. The successful pairing of the two lead actors led him to his next film Bajirao Mastani (2015) which was a major success in the box office. In addition to directing his films, Bhansali has also produced films like Rowdy Rathore (2012) and Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi (2012); the latter being his sister Bella Bhansali Segal's directorial debut. He also produced the television series Saraswatichandra (2013).