Hues of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s SAAWARIYA

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya (2007) is about loneliness and longing, based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story “White Nights”. It’s an epic ballad about anticipation and participation in love, making an artistically compelling visual treat. Ravi K. Chandran‘s meticulous masterstroke in creating picturesque frames remain unappreciated.

In the opening sequence itself, Bhansali makes clear that it’s about an angel – hence, Saawariya is a fairytale depending upon how one subjectively undertakes the tossed elements. “Realism is an illusion”, said Bhansali somewhere near the release, it befits to the film which stands as a symbolism to the illusion of selfless love and longing. While characters are seen longing for their dear ones, Sakina for Imaan, Sakina’s Mother for Husband, Prostitutes for an Angel and Ranbir Raj for Sakina – the colour blue coordinates faith and heaven of love to create a soothing effect out of the heart aching longings.

In between, we witness hue of green over Ranbir Raj’s sequences which denote the ambitious love as well as jealousy towards Imaan (which also means faith). Tragically, his faith towards love is hanging over a bridge with the anticipation of Imaan’s arrival. When Sakina beats the dust out of the rugs when she falls into love with Imaan, the golden light is the only rightful bliss moment in the gloomy film. Sanjay Leela Bhansali knows the importance of the colours to the core, hence, the colours meticulously symbolise love, longing and loneliness.

What takes down Saawariya is the excessive duration and screenplay in terms of dialogues which don’t essentially work due to its old-charm. While the poetic soundtrack soothes the narrative, “White Nights” transformed into an extravagant Indian Musical in a simple manner. With all its colours and dramatic weather (rainstorms and snow), it just ends up being an enchanting visual treat and never thunders the viewing.

Saawariya is an illusion, unfortunately it stands close to Dostoevsky’s story and doesn’t cater to the commercial elements and commerce (in Bollywood style) which seems to be one of the reason, the film didn’t crawl up apart from its clash with Shahrukh Khan’s Om Shanti Om.


Copyright ©2018 Ninad Kulkarni. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.


7 thoughts on “Hues of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s SAAWARIYA

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  1. One thing I want to make clearer is, the green color probably stresses on Iman’s (his name sounds so close to Imam!) religious angle. He adds some spiritual heft to the story, the first time we see him, he has knelt in Namaz. Plus, he is like that unattainable goal for Sakina, who pines away with a strong ‘Meera’esque touch (She even sings a song about him, Thode Badmaash, refers to him as ‘Mera imaan, meri jaan, mera maan ho tum’. Even though she refers to Raj as ‘Mere bhagwaan’, we know whom she worships). In the last scene, she is with Raj, and the background is filled with blue, but when she hears Iman’s voice and runs away, we see brightly painted blue walls. She melds from Raj’s world into Iman’s. (That scene where Iman leaves her practically looks like being shot before a green screen. Pun intended.)
    Thank you for such a lovely post on Saawariya.


    1. The probability seems true given the nature of color psychology, I feel so bright looking back at SLB’s Saawariya in his Padmaavat year. Saawariya is new found love, although loved it in its first viewing 6 years back – it keeps giving new angles like the one you mentioned.


      1. I watched it this year, after a friend claimed he fell asleep in the first fifteen minutes. I understood why. Bhansali is so singularly consumed by his vision (some call it vanity) – and that is really bleak. It’s so cold and heartbreaking.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Vanity! Maybe, Saawariya exists in an ultimate moment for those with soulful hearts. I’ve often come across such souls and cinephiles when it comes to Saawariya!


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