The biggest birthday gift is the opera Padmavati. I came here to Paris expecting to work really hard on a discipline that I had never dabbled in before. But I didn't know it would be so much fun. The French actors and the team were all fully prepared for my arrival. Once I arrived in Paris, I just had to fall into rhythm with them. I'm having the time of my life," said Sanjay Bhansali on Sunday from Paris.

It was his birthday and he missed his mom and close friends. "But my opera team just wouldn't let me get lonely. At midnight, they wheeled in a cake on a palki and sang Happy Birthday for me. I'd have been embarrassed if I wasn't so happy to have people in this foreign country to make me feel at home on my birthday. Otherwise my birthdays are always like any other day." Sanjay was supposed to fly back to Mumbai to be home for his birthday. "But that seemed impractical. If I left the opera at this time the entire rhythm would've been broken. To watch these actors and team-members give so much of themselves to Padmavati is very inspiring. I always wanted to do theatre. I never thought I'd enjoy the process of doing opera so much. To watch these magnificent singers hold a note for so long without getting breathless, to have them recreate the whole legend of Padmavati is a process of creation that has completely rejuvenated me. I've never felt more calm and alive as an artiste."

The opera goes on stage in the next two weeks. "I'm supposed to be physically present for the first two shows. Then after that when the opera goes to other countries, I'll be joining the repertory to start them off in the new atmosphere." So what did he actually do on his birthday? "You mean besides work? Calls and messages from friends and relatives back home started early. I attended my costume designer, Rajesh Pratap Singh's, pageant at the Fashion Week. Then I walked along the Seine, and just spent time with myself in my apartment here in Paris. In Mumbai, I don't get much time to do that. And for a slice of home, I've Omung Kumar and Rajesh Pratap Singh to do the sets and clothes for the opera. I had never worked with choreographer Tanushree Shankar. Like everyone else involved with Padmavati, she has just fitted into the whole opera perfectly. Nothing about this opera seems out of place."


Finally, the rumors of marriage with choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant...Sanjay sigh. "I hear some journalists back home have decided to get us married off. Love and the decision to get married are very private matters. If ever there's marriage on cards I'll let everyone know. For now there're no such plans."