Heeramandi: Did you know Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama is inspired from real historical incidents?

The much-awaited trailer of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Heeramandi is out now and it must have made you wonder if this magnum opus is based on true story. You're right and we got you covered.

Published on Apr 09, 2024  |  12:51 PM IST |  168.1K
Heeramandi: Know the real history that has inspired Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama (Instagram/Bhansali Productions)
Heeramandi: Know the real history that has inspired Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama (Instagram/Bhansali Productions)

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a man of absolute brilliance and a filmmaker who has studied cinema and history in equal proportions. He is all set to make his OTT debut with his larger-than-life 8-episodic period drama Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar. But do you know the real story that has inspired his upcoming magnum opus?

What is the history of Heeramandi?

Almost 14 years ago, Moin Baig presented the concept of the project to Bhansali, who was then preoccupied with the production of Devdas featuring Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, and Madhuri Dixit. Following Devdas, Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed several films, including Saawariya, Guzaarish, and Bajirao Mastani, leaving the Heeramandi on the back burner. Frustrated by the lack of progress, Baig requested Bhansali to return his script, little knowing that it would eventually evolve into a significant Netflix series.

Heeramandi is one of Pakistan's known locations which derives its name from Heera Singh, son of Dhian Singh Dogra, the Prime Minister under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He was the one who established a grain market in the area known as Hira Singh di Mandi. The district was also popular for its courtesan culture, particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries under Mughal rule.

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The Mughals brought women, mainly from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, to perform classical Indian dances like Kathak for their entertainment. The area's cultural landscape shifted dramatically following the invasion by Ahmad Shah Abdali, whose troops established brothels with captured women. British colonialism further tarnished Heeramandi's reputation and transformed it into a center for prostitution.

Despite its daytime engagements as a regular market selling food, traditional Mughal footwear (Khussa), and musical instruments, Heeramandi turns into a different world at night - a longstanding brothel spot. According to a 2016 Dawn.com report, the increase in escort websites and social media has significantly impacted the traditional business model of the area.

Heeramandi’s mention in popular culture

Remember Karan Johar’s Kalank? In the movie, Alia Bhatt was staying in the fictional city of Husnabad and wanted to learn music from Madhuri Dixit’s character. If you noticed minutely, Dixit’s character was introduced in the movie as Bahaar Begum who performed at a kotha in the infamous neighborhood of Hira Mandi. Another such reference was in Noor Jahan’s popular song Main Heera Mandi Di Guddi which was released several decades back and was a chartbuster.

More about Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Heeramandi

Heeramandi is set to stream on Netflix on May 1 and has an ensemble cast playing some important characters. Where Manisha Koirala will be seen in the character of Mallikajaan, Sonakshi Sinha will be playing the prime antagonist Fareedan. Catch Aditi Rao Hydari in the role of Bibbojaan, Richa Chadha as Lajjo, Sanjeeda Shaikh as Waheeda, and Sharmin Segal as Alamzeb. The men of Bhansali’s mandi include Adhyayan Suman playing Zorawar Ali Khan, Shekhar Suman as Zulfiqar Ahmed, Taha Shah Badussha in the role of Tajdar Baloch, and Fardeen Khan playing Wali Mohammed in his comeback acting stint.


Recently, during a media statement, Bhansali spoke about his upcoming and shared, "I've made big films, I enjoy making those big-scale films, and it comes naturally to me. But while shifting to digital, I've taken it up a notch. Heeramandi is my biggest project; I wanted to make it really special, and I have surprised myself with this one. This is not just a series; it's a world, and I am eager for audiences worldwide to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Heeramandi.”

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Stay tuned to Pinkvilla for more such a peak into cinema and history; stories that trace to reality and news that matter.

ALSO READ: Heeramandi: Did you know Adhyayan Suman was initially rejected? Here’s how SLB brought him onboard

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About The Author

Aditya Sagar is an Entertainment Journalist who holds a true-blue Bollywood heart and has his ears tuned to the

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Credits: Indiatimes
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