‘She said I don’t know how to make films’; says Sanjay Leela Bhansali about Kareena Kapoor lashing out at him

In the early 2000s, Kareena Kapoor and Sanjay Leela Bhansali had a public spat after she accused him of dropping her from Devdas.

Kareena Kapoor has a history of abandoning projects that later became huge successes. But Sanjay Leela Bhansali is the only director with whom she has even come close to collaborating frequently. When Bhansali chose Aishwarya Rai for a role in Devdas instead of Kareena, it sparked a rift between the two that resulted in Kareena disparaging him in the media.

In a 2002 interview with Filmfare, Kareena was asked if she’d ever worked with Bhansali considering what happened between them. She said, “I’ll never. What he did to me was wrong. He screen-tested me for Devdas, gave me a signing amount, then took someone else. That was wrong, it hurt especially because I was at the start of my career. It’s okay, because the day he dropped me, I signed Yaadein. Sanjay hurt me. Even if I have no work, I’ll never work with him.”

That same year, in an interview with Filmfare, Bhansali explained his side of the story, claiming that there was no agreement with Kareena to star in Devdas. “She came to my house with Neeta Lulla and said she wanted to work with me,” he recalled. I told her that I hadn’t seen her work and that I needed to see what she was capable of before casting her. We planned a photo shoot with the appropriate costumes. I made it clear to Babitaji and Karisma Kapoor, who were also present at the shoot, that the shoot was not a confirmation that I would cast Kareena. After reviewing the photos, I told Kareena that I thought Aishwarya Rai was fabulous and perfect for Paro; she has the aristocratic looks I was looking for.

Kareena didn’t say anything at the time, but I found her lashing out at me in print a few days later. She accused me of backtracking after I had given her the signing fee and contract. This is not true, believe me. She also stated that I had no idea how to make films. Kareena is a wonderful young lady who is succeeding in life.However, I’d like to inform her that I do know how to make films. She has tried to tell me that she was misquoted but I’d like her to know that I’ve heard those tapes. Recently, we met at Sikander Kher’s birthday party. I told her that if I have a suitable role for her, I’ll cast her. Till then, I’ll brush up on film-making.”

It was said that the two patched up at Sikander Kher’s birthday party after Kirron Kher played mediator. Kareena told Filmfare in 2002, “She dragged me to him. We hugged and became friends. I told him I was hurt because he screen-tested me for Devdas and then replaced me without my knowledge. But I’ve never ever said that he’s a bad director or that I’ll never work with him. The media just blew our differences out of proportion. You know I was like a child who wanted to be in his film. He was the first filmmaker I ever called. Anyway, Devdas is certainly not the last film he’ll make. He owes me a solo-heroine film.”