Heeramandi The Diamond Bazaar Review: The amazing world of dreams seen by Bhansali 14 years ago, the changing colors of the courtesan’s conspiracies.

By Ronit Kawale 13 Min Read
4
Rating
Movie ReviewHeeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar (Web Series)
ArtistManisha Koirala, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sonakshi Sinha, Sanjeeda Sheikh, Sharmin Sehgal, Richa Chadha, Taha Shah, Jason Shah, Fardeen Khan, Adhyayan Suman, and Shekhar Suman.
AuthorMoin Baig, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Vibhu Puri, and Divya Nidhi
DirectorSanjay Leela Bhansali
CreatorSanjay Leela Bhansali and Prerna Singh
OTT PlatformNetflix

Heeramandi The Diamond Bazaar Review Review: Four episodes of about an hour each and four more episodes of about quarter to an hour i.e. a total of eight episodes, the web series ‘Heeramandi The Diamond Bazaar’ is the dream of producer-director Sanjay Leela Bhansali which he first conceived the idea of from Moin Baig 14 years ago. Started knitting after hearing this and now it is completed. Work on its making has been going on for about four years. Even before that, Sanjay has been composing its music. Lyrics written by AM Turaj and music by Sanjay Leela Bhansali are the life of this series and the sets created by Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Roy are its body. The series has been edited by Sanjay Leela Bhansali himself, so you can understand that you will not see anything in it which is not necessary in this entire story. The story takes place just a few years before independence. Lahore is its theatre. Courtesans are its most important characters. Lucknow and Banaras are its central stories.

Story of capture of Lahore’s palaces

Well, let’s start talking about the web series ‘Heeramandi The Diamond Bazaar’. This is the story of Mallika Jaan. There is also a story of how Mallika Jaan came to this brothel of Lahore, she became the most powerful courtesan here on her own. The daughters tremble at his wrath. Elder daughter Bibbojan is secretly supporting the revolutionaries. The second rebellion of Alamzeb is regarding his poetry. The younger daughter of the poet Niazi, who did not call the last stanza of his ghazal ‘Matla’ but called it the last stanza, who reached the gathering, is the real diamond of ‘Heeramandi the Diamond Bazaar’. Apart from the love story of these two daughters, there is also a one-sided love story of Lajjo. After drinking alcohol, she too has become crazy like Devdas. Everything is going according to Mallikajan when the shadow of his past takes a turn and he returns with a new attitude and his old form. The battle to capture the houses has the flavor of the war of independence. The pride of the courtesans beats the pride of the Nawabs and is such a script that once you start watching it, it does not let you stop till the end.

Stories within stories

As a director and producer, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has given Hindi cinema gems like ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, ‘Black’, ‘Devdas’, ‘Guzaarish’, ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ramleela’, ‘Bajirao Mastani’ and ‘Padmavat’. The essence of his stories drips onto the screen through the camera. The story of his previous film ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ was based on the prostitution market of Mumbai, this time the same story has reached Lahore. Well, the courtesans here are not everyone’s bed partners. She is always trying to make some Nawab or some British officer her ‘Sahab’. The money spent in the mujjars is showered upon Mallika Jaan and if this is not done then their clothes are removed and their clothes are also searched. The story of ‘Heeramandi’ keeps returning to such a circle of doubt again and again. Amidst the conspiracies going on among the courtesans, the love stories that reached the homes of the Nawabs and their tricks of using the British officers as pawns, there is also a character of Ustad ji like ‘Sabka Jasoos Ek’.

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Keep an open mind to understand the family tree

The pace of the story of the web series ‘Heeramandi’ The Diamond Bazaar’ is fast. To keep up with this, you will also need your brain to be a little sharper than average. It will take some mental exercise to understand who killed whom and captured which inheritance, who is whose daughter and who is whose aunt, why and how. Women in Indian homes have been doing such exercises a lot in Saas-Bahu serials, so they are used to it. Male viewers may face some trouble in the beginning. But, once this entire ‘family tree’ is understood, then the path ahead becomes easy. The entire story is female-oriented. The male characters here are just chess pawns. The game of checkmate is being played directly between Mallika Jaan and Faridan. The story of Moin Baig is charismatic. Bhansali, along with Vibhu Puri, has kept its script mysterious. Like his other writings, Divya Nidhi’s linguistic grasp is clearly visible here too. And, what to say about AM Turaj’s aunt! If the series is to be aired on Netflix, it will also have interwoven stories of homosexual relationships. Ustad ji also appears in Faridan’s eyes pleading for mercy from the British officer. And, Faridan also likes the women around him very much.

A little glimpse of every Muslim social drama

Strong with the pen, the web series ‘Heeramandi The Diamond Bazaar’ is even stronger with the camera. Leaving aside the repetition of similar shots by keeping the camera parallel to the ground from the top angle and then making an angle of 90 degrees, Sudip Chatterjee and Mahesh Limaye have done an amazing job in this series. The lighting of the sets in the night scenes reminds you of ‘Mughal-e-Azam’. And during the day, the courtesans ‘Pakija’ danced in their verandahs. Those who watched both these films will see very similar scenes in this series as well. There is an expression of love like ‘Mere Hujur’. The refusal like ‘Tawaif’ and the ‘magical arms’ of Faridan’s decorated gathering may remind you of Helen and Sasikala. Amidst all the reference points of Hindi cinema, the image of ‘Noorjahan’ will definitely be seen scattered here and there in the entire series. If the combination of light and shadow at night is worth noting, then during the day this set blossoms for the first time, in the collective dance of courtesans wearing yellow clothes welcoming spring on Amir Khusro’s aunt.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali goes beyond perfection

The challenge for director Sanjay Leela Bhansali in this series has been to show his fans something that they have not seen before in his films. The first realization of artificiality in his stories was seen by the audience in the film ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’. The entire feel of this film feels very artificial, a similar feeling is felt while watching the web series ‘Heeramandi The Diamond Bazaar’. All the characters are so well dressed that it does not seem as if we are watching a story before independence. Baaghi is also in full make-up and to ensure that no scene looks poor, Sanjay’s team has worked hard to make every corner ‘Kona Kona Kotak’ of every frame. Technically this series is excessively rich. And, it doesn’t take long for this much ‘perfection’ to turn cinema into drama. The songs composed by him are amazing. Her hard work is clearly visible in the costume selection. The alchemy that he has done in decorating the sets also catches the eye.

Aditi Rao Hydari champion again

There is a whole procession of artists here. All the six actresses leading this wedding procession have played their roles powerfully, but actress Aditi Rao Hydari has emerged as the champion in all of them. It is interesting to see Mehrunnisa of ‘Padmaavat’ becoming Bibbojaan of ‘Heeramandi’. In a way, it is an extension of the thread of ‘1942 A Love Story’ which Sanjay Leela Bhansali himself had written for Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Manisha Koirala has lived Mallikajaan with a different aura. Be it the scene of her going to her lover’s house to meet her daughter on Eid or the announcement of the last Mujra for her elder daughter, every time she has managed to survive by turning her charm into her terror. Although the character of Richa Chadha as Lajjo is the smallest among them, she leaves her impact in just two episodes. In a way, Sonakshi Sinha has been presented as a villain in the series and she has played her character well, but her entire aura seems pale in front of Sanjeeda Sheikh and Sharmin Sehgal.

Powerful love story of Taha Shah and Sharmin

Among the male characters, Taha Shah is the hero of the web series ‘Heeramandi The Diamond Bazaar’. The love story of Tajdar and Alamzeb is a bit like the love story of Salim and Anarkali. Both of them also meet at the Dargah of Anarkali. Whatever Sharmin has learned behind the camera from her maternal uncle Sanjay Leela Bhansali, she may have missed presenting it on screen in her first film ‘Malaal’, but here she has blossomed like a flower directly in her maternal uncle’s eyes. . Sharmin, the granddaughter of producer Mohan Sehgal, who brought Rekha to Hindi cinema for the first time, has drank cinema in her mouth and this is her biggest opportunity as an actress. Playing a character like Alamzeb is no less than a test and it is good to see that this time she has lived up to the test.

Indresh Malik as Ustadji will be remembered

There is nothing special for Shekhar Suman and Adhyayan Suman in the web series ‘Heeramandi The Diamond Bazaar’. Rather, when Shekhar Suman appears in the series for the first time and looks at the actions he is seen doing, one has to wonder why he would have felt the need to play such a character that makes fun of himself. Adhyay has played his character Zoravar very well. It is not known what might have been the reason behind taking up study in the character of Zulfikar’s youth, but this repetition is bound to confuse the audience. The audience will remember the character of Ustad as Barsombra. The acting of the actor Indresh Malik who plays this character is simply worth watching. Jason Shah, who became a British officer, has also left his impact.

Rating
4
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Ronit Kawale has been an entertainment journalist for the past three years. Being a cinephile is not just a part of his profession; it's his passion. Alongside being an avid follower of Bollywood and television, he possesses a treasure trove of interesting gossip and insights about celebrities. He's well-versed in understanding what readers are tuning into on the website. After all, he became a journalist to stay close to the heartbeat of the world.
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