Bhansali began his career as an assistant to Vidhu Vinod Chopra and was involved in the making of Parinda, 1942: A Love Story and Kareeb. However, both had a fall out when Bhansali refused to direct Kareeb and made his directorial debut with Khamoshi: The Musical, the commercially unsuccessful but critically acclaimed narration of a daughter's struggle to communicate with her deaf mute parents. His second film was a triangle love story, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam Starring Salman Khan,Aishwarya Rai,Ajay Devgan which established his individualistic stamp for visual splendour and creating auras of celebration and festivity. The film was a great success and won numerous awards. His next film, Devdas starring Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit, was Bhansali's ode to the well known novel of the same name. Upon its theatrical release in India, the film surfaced as the highest grossing movie. It also won major Bollywood awards and was Indian submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The musical received a significant reception at Cannes, where it premiered. Then came Black Starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherji, which stood fifth in Time Magazine (Europe)'s10 Best Movies of the Year 2005 from across the globe. Black broke a record at the 2006 Filmfare Awards, winning eleven awards. After having four successes, Bhansali experienced his first major flop in Saawariya, which was met with sharp criticism and poor collections at the box office.
Bhansali staged the opera Padmavati, an adoption to 1923 ballet written by Albert Roussel, in 2008.  First show premiered in paris in the prestigious theatre Chatelet in Paris and next in Italian Festival at Spoletto received 15 mins standing ovation.  Bhasali received many positive comments from International critics for his work.
In 2010, Bhansali released Guzaarish starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai. He also made his debut in music direction with this film.