It took Sanjay Leela Bhansali over a decade to make his magnum opus Bajirao Mastani. An idea that he had nursed right from the days following Hum Di De Chuke Sanam's success, Bhansali found that several obstacles led to his working on several other films before the historical became, once again, a distinct possibility.
So when the Ranveer Singh-Deepika Padukone-Priyanka Chopra starrer finally released in December of 2015 and went on to become one of the year's major critical and commercial successes, it came as sweet vindication for Bhansali.
Cut to 2016, and the story with his new project — another historical, Padmavati — has run into similarly choppy waters.
First, there was speculation over who the male lead actors in the film would be (that Deepika Padukone would play Rani Padmini was a given). Reports of a rivalry between Bhansali's choices — Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor — grew, as did buzz that Ranveer had a falling out with his mentor over Shahid being given a bound script and greater screen time.
No sooner had that controversy cleared up, than a fresh one presented itself.
This time round, it was concerns over the film's historical accuracy that threatened to be sticking point.
The Patidar Navnirman Sena declared that they would not allow Bhansali's film to be shot or screened in Gujarat and Rajasthan unless he reassured representatives of the Rajput community that Rani Padmini would be portrayed in a manner befitting her stature as an icon.
And now, there are fresh worries that Bhansali must face down: News reports state that Eros International — with whom the filmmaker collaborated on films like Goliyon Ki Rasleela: Ram-Leela, and Bajirao Mastani — has pulled out of the project.
Incidentally, this isn't the only project Eros has bowed out of. They had teamed up with Pen India and Ajay Devgn Productions for Shivaay, but as costs on the film escalated, Eros opted out. Pen India's chief Jayantilal Gada confirmed Eros' departure from the project, but not the reason for it.
The reason given by most news reports for Eros' discontinuing with Padmavati is the film's huge budget.
At Rs 180+ crore, to say that Padmavati is an expensive film, is an understatement. However, it isn't India's most expensive film — Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo seemingly took a cool Rs 180 crore to make, and Dhoom 3 clocked in costs of Rs 175 crore. Bajirao Mastani had a budget of Rs 125 crore.
At a time when the industry seems shaken by the losses suffered by the historical Mohenjo Daro (made at a cost of approximately Rs 150 crore), concerns for Eros over Padmavati's high budget aren't misplaced.
Theories about Eros dissociation from Padmavati abound. An International Business Times report states that the studio never really announced that they would work with Bhansali on Padmavati to begin with; it was merely assumed given Eros' past association with the auteur.
Reports state that another studio may now step in after Eros' alleged exit.