The sound of ghungroos and the melodies of classical music accompanied gorgeous women in sparkling outfits as they held court at Heera Mandi of Lahore’s diamond market. The mythology of Heeramandi’s courtesans has always piqued our interest. They were attractive, brilliant ladies with their own stories to tell. Shrouded in the scars of grief and betrayal, these ladies gleamed as they whirled to the sounds of duflis, mesmerising their aristocratic clientele at mehfils that only the privileged could attend.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s digital debut is Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar, which premieres on Netflix. The larger-than-life and epic spectacle stars Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditi Rao Hydari, and Richa Chadha as the main characters in a story of love, power, retribution, and independence.
Speaking of Heeramandi, the filmmaker stated, “These were gorgeous women, the queens of Heeramandi. They were courtesans, and their veil concealed so much pain. Despite this, they arrived every evening dressed to sing and dance. So, looking at those lives, women who were on the outside of society, despite being looked down upon by the very society that sought them out for its own enjoyment. They thrilled the males, who later abandoned them. These women were dumped after their prime. They hid and concealed their misery beneath the jewellery and makeup they donned. This is what has been revealed during the series.”
The filmmaker praised his ensemble cast, saying, “These girls have performed so well.” I reunited with Manisha (Koirala), who appeared in my debut film, Khamoshi. They underwent the rigorous process of bringing this story to life.”
The filmmaker hopes that ‘Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar’ would introduce his storytelling style, which is profoundly entrenched in Indian aesthetics, to a global audience.
“These were special characters; it took me a year and a half to write.” Beauty frequently emerges from sorrow, and art is born from a troubled soul.” These women were the artists.”
Actor Aditi Rao Hydari, who worked with the filmmaker on Padmavaat, believes that his understanding of a woman’s thinking is what makes the program so intriguing.
Heermandi: The Diamond Bazaar, which also stars Sharmin Segal and Sanjeeda Sheikh, is one of the most anticipated shows, and it features the directors’ unique style.