All 8 Of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Films Ranked, From Average To Awesome

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is not just a filmmaker. He is a thought process, a school of filmmaking on his own. Once the dust settles, his films will become a genre. Because there are romances, there are dramas, and then there are Sanjay Leela Bhansali films, which are the perfect amalgamation of romance and drama.

His grandeur and keen sense of aesthetic has been evident right from the beginning of his career. His films have visually lasting images which stay with the audience, long after the film is over. The trailer of his latest, Padmavati released recently, and it has the director’s distinct stamp on it. We will have to wait till 1st of December to find out how well does Padmavati hold up to his other films.

The 8 film old director has given a few masterpieces, and a few films that fell a little short. Here, we rank all of his films, from average to awesome, because, let’s face it, even his worst film is much better than the best films of many filmmakers. Let’s begin.

#8 Guzaarish

sanjay leela bhansali


Sanjay Leela Bhansali had himself admitted that he made Guzaarish while going through the worst patch of his life. He was clinically depressed while making this film, and it showed. While the concept of someone feeling so helpless in their existence that they want to end their own lives seems interesting, the justification of euthanasia was sadly not the right way to show it. Confused ideals apart, the film also had one of the worst soundtrack’s of any Bhansali film. The film was a commercial failure. The only silver lining was Hrithik Roshan’s poignant performance.

#7 Saawariya

sanjay leela bhansali saawariya


Saawariya is a misunderstood film. Many consider it to be a disaster. It’s not. Saawariya was a film that was never intended to have a great story or screenplay. It was all about the presentation- a broadway-esque take on a piece of literature. Where the movie faltered was the entertainment factor. The movie was a painful drag at times, where you could easily preempt every plot twist before they happened. Having said that, Bhansali more than made up for it, with some of the most beautiful sets, and brilliant music. Oh, and it also gave industry this new kid named Ranbir Kapoor. He turned out alright.

#6 Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram Leela

sanjay leela bhansali


This film was the turning point in Bhansali’s career, as he had faced a mini slump of sorts, right before this film released. A modern take on the Romeo and Juliet story, this film rejuvenated Bhansali as a filmmaker. Going back to his Gujarati roots to tell a love story written in blood, this film had almost unmatched intensity. Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone’s chemistry set the screen on fire, and the exceptional music complimented it. The only reason this film is so low on this list is because the other works of Bhansali are much superior.

#5 Devdas

sanjay leela bhansali


It took Bhansali nearly 3 years to get this film made, and frankly, it was worth the wait. A brilliant re-telling of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s story, Sanjay Leela Bhansali gave his inimitable take to the age-old story. Devdas had already been made twice till then, with thespian actor Dilip Kumar also having done the role of the famous depressed alcoholic. But Shahrukh Khan gave one of the finest performances of his career, Madhuri Dixit was sublime, and as always, Aishwarya Rai looked as pretty as a picture. At this point, I should stop making mention of the music of Bhansali films, as it rarely fails to impress. Devdas was no exception.

#4 Bajirao Mastani

sanjay leela bhansali


Another ambitious project, Bhansali masterfully tackled the layered story of Peshwa Bajirao, and his second wife Mastani. Wonderfully shot and edited, this film ranks right up there with the greatest historical films of Bollywood (although a few historians did point out some glaring historical inaccuracies, specifically in terms of the language and costumes). However, Bhansali once again milked the excellent chemistry between Ranveer and Deepika, and Priyanka Chopra also chipped in with one of the better performances of that year. The film was a critical and commercial success, even making more money than Dilwale (a Rohit Shetty commercial flick, with Shahrukh Khan and Kajol in the lead), which had released on the same day. Oh, and this film has one of the best opening credit sequences of all time! Seriously, look it up.

#3 Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

sanjay leela hum dil


Bhansali’s second film, was the one that actually put him in the big leagues. With Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, he put the entire industry on notice. The love triangle starring Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Ajay Devgn, was a brilliant love story, which fed off the real life romance between Salman and Aishwarya masterfully. I personally feel this was one of Salman’s best performances. Ajay Devgn was intense as ever. And the soundtrack was so good, that it can be heard on FM channels even now. A winner, all around.

#2 Black

sanjay leela black


Frankly, it was really difficult to pick Bhansali’s best work out of Black and Khamoshi- The Musical. Both were films were based on people with disabilities, even though the contexts were completely different. Black was such a great piece of cinema, that it was praised all around the world. For the first and only time in his career, Bhansali did not have a single song in the film, just relying on the haunting background score, which has since become iconic. Rani Mukerjee gave her career’s best performance, and Amitabh Bachchan was brilliant. But the real surprise package was Ayesha Kapoor who played the young Rani Mukerjee. Black was a movie event that only happens once in a generation!

#1 Khamoshi- The Musical

khamoshi sanjay leela


It is said that the first noises are often the loudest. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s first film Khamoshi- The Musical, was an extraordinary film. Based on a girl’s attempts to communicate with her deaf-mute parents. Manisha Koirala was excellent in this film, and Nana Patekar gave a heart-wrenching performance. The testament to a good album is its longevity, and Khamoshi- The Musical has stood the test of time. This film was a resounding flop at the box office, but critics loved it, and it eventually won the Critics Award for the Best Film at Filmfare. If you haven’t seen this film yet, you should do it, right now. It is one of the best films ever made in India, one that has its emotions in the right place.

P.S.- The views and rankings are the opinion of the writer only. You are free to disagree, in which case my inbox/the comments section welcomes you. 

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Vishesh Jaiswal

I am a digital storyteller, more persuasive than needed. Also, I am Batman.

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