Web Series Review: Heeramandi - The Diamond Bazaar - The India Saga



Web Series Review: Heeramandi – The Diamond Bazaar

The elegant drama Heeramandi, directed and composed by BAFTA-nominated Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas), chronicles the…

Web Series Review: Heeramandi – The Diamond Bazaar

The elegant drama Heeramandi, directed and composed by BAFTA-nominated Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas), chronicles the lives of India’s elite courtesans, or tawaifs, as they struggled for freedom from British rule in 1920. The courtesans plot to satisfy their hidden desires and subvert the established order while entertaining aristocrats. Starring in the epic Indian musical series are Aditi Rao Hydari, Sonakshi Sinha, and Manisha Koirala. 

Alamzeb is the daughter of Mallikajaan (Manisha Koirala), the elite brothel’s madam at Shahi Mahal in Lahore’s Heera Mandi pleasure district. Another daughter of Mallikajaan is Bibbo (Aditi Rao Hydari), a celebrated singer-turned-revolutionary spy. The Raj faced increasing resistance in the 1940s. For protection and titles, the immaculate nawabs work for their foreign overlords. However, the courtesans set the tone, keeping their clients’ secrets hidden and occasionally driving them to bankruptcy. 

Story Plot: Heeramandi – The Diamond Bazaar

The show opens with a series of intense flashbacks. As it turns out, Mallikajaan is hiding a horrific crime from her past with the help of the depraved nawab Zulfikar (Shekhar Suman). When discovered, it refers to a struggle for dominance between her and Fareedan (Sonakshi Sinha), a rival courtesan who infiltrates Heera Mandi and begins to tease out both old and new feathers. 

The story revolves around Fareedan’s intricate plans for retaliation, an awkwardly developing romantic relationship between Alamzeb and Tajdar (Taaha Shah), a young, rebellious nawab, and the agitation of the revolutionaries. Jason Shah’s villainous police superintendent, Cartwright, prowls the area looking for skeletons. It takes time for Bhansali and his writers to weave the many threads together. Even with the spotless sights and sounds available, the wait gets lengthy. The exciting political landscape of the time is depicted in general terms, which doesn’t help (the Muslim League and the call for a separate Pakistan state are not mentioned).

Web Series Review: What happens in Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar?

Heeramandi Review: In the Indian-walled city of Lahore, the all-powerful Mallikajaan has ruled over a house of courtesans for years. They reside in a lavish home known as Heeramandi, where nawabs are invited to perform elaborate and private shows. Mallika has 25 years of industry experience and is unbreakable until her late nemesis’s daughter, Fareedan, returns to exact her revenge.

As Mallika governs her group of courtesans in Heeramandi, the surrounding city is becoming increasingly unstable as people fight against the oppressive British Raj to keep the Crown as the ultimate authority over India and Pakistan. Mallika’s youngest daughter, Alam, dreams of a life beyond the kotha, or bazaar, where she can follow her true passion: poetry. Meanwhile, her courtesan daughter, Bibbo, secretly gathers intelligence to aid the revolutionaries and win freedom from Britain and her mother. Could their passions come together for a higher good, though, when Alam meets Tajdar, the son of a nawab who is hiding secrets of his own and has just returned from Oxford to study law? 

Cast & Crew of Heeramandi

  • Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
  • Cast: Manisha Koirala, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sonakshi Sinha, Sharmin Segal, Taaha Shah, Fardeen Khan
  • Episodes: 8
  • Run-time: 45-65 minutes
  • Storyline: The courtesan’s power struggles and intrigues during India’s revolution.