So far some female characters in Bhansali’s cinema have sought character traits and inspiration from his mother. But never has Sanjay named one of his female protagonists after his mother.
Says a source very close to the project, "Sanjay had made a secret pact with his conscience that one day he would name one of his female protagonists after his mother. But only when he was certain that the character was worthy of the honour. In his earlier films a number of female characters were modelled on the director’s mother, for instance Helen in Khamoshi: The Musical and Kirron Kher in Devdas. But Leela in Ram Leela has has been written specially with his mother Leela Bhansali in mind."
Not only that. Ram Leela would be the first Bhansali creation to be shot entirely on location, and that too in the director’s home state.
So far most of the Bhansali opuses have been conceived and created within studios.
Says a source, "Whether it was the havelis and kotha of Devdas, or the spacious British style bungalow in Black or the river, gondola,over-bridges and bars of Saawariya, they were all done in studios. Ram Leela would be Bhansali’s first film to be shot entirely on location in his home state Gujarat."
The director who so far believed that perfect lighting and shooting exactly according to the director’s vision is only possible within the controlled confines of a studio has broken all his rules. In the last 3 months he has been traveling extensively through Gujarat looking for the perfect locations to shoot his love story that would borrow plenty of elements from Gujarati folk music and theatre.
Interestingly Aishwarya Rai’s introductory scene in Hum…Dil De Chuke Sanam was shot on location in rural Gujarat, though the rest of the Gujarati ambience was recreated in a studio.
Bhansali has finally zeroed in on the Kutch district of Gujarat to shoot Ram Leela where no mainstream Hindi film has been shot before.
Says a source, "It’s a tough location and very tough role for Kareena. She would have to undergo a lengthy period of acclimatization to get a hang of her character and the milieu."
As soon as Kareena is done with Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine she gets into the preparation for Ram Leela. And that includes putting on some weight to look like an authentic girl from Gujarat.
Says the source, "Actually, Kareena has already begun to shed her Size 0 looks. And if you see her in public she’s quite often dressed in Indian clothes.Somewhere in her subconscious she has already begun preparing for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film."