New Delhi: The sound of ghungroos, and the strains of classical music, as beautiful women in glittering ensembles held court at Heera Mandi or the diamond market in Lahore. The legend of the courtesans of Heeramandi has long intrigued us.. beautiful talented women, with their own stories to tell. Shrouding the scars of loss, and betrayal, these ladies sparkled as they swirled to the sounds of duflis, and mesmerised their aristocratic clients at mehfils which only the elite could be part of.
Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali makes his digital debut with Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar on Netflix. The larger-than-life and grand spectacle stars Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditi Rao Hydari, and Richa Chadha playing the key protagonists, in a saga of love, power, revenge, and freedom.
Talking about Heeramandi, the director said “These were beautiful women, the queens of Heeramandi. They were courtesans behind their veil they hid so much pain. But despite that, they came in looking splendid to sing and dance every evening. So looking at those lives, women who were on the fringes of society, though looked down upon by the very society that sought them for its pleasure. They pleased these men who then abandoned them. Once these women were past their prime they were discarded. They camouflaged and disguised their anguish under the jewelry and make-up they wore. This is what has been told through the series.”
The filmmaker was all praise for his ensemble cast, “ these girls have performed so well. I reunited with Manisha ( Koirala) who starred in my first film Khamoshi. They went through the rigour of bringing alive this story.”
With ‘Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar’, the filmmaker hopes to bring his brand of storytelling deeply rooted in Indian aesthetics to the global audience.
“ These were special characters, it took me a year and a half to write. Beauty often comes out of pain, art in a way is created out of a tormented soul. These women were those artists.”
Actor Aditi Rao Hydari who had collaborated with the director on Padmavaat, says apart from his aesthetics, it was his insight into the mind of a woman that makes the show an enchanting piece of work.
Also starring Sharmin Segal and Sanjeeda Sheikh, Heermandi: The Diamond Bazaar is one of the most anticipated shows, bearing the filmmakers’ signature style.