'Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar' review | Debauchery, dil and drama

Heeramandi, if you have achieved the feat of being blissfully unaware of the pre-release blitz, is Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022) on dope.
Last Updated : 02 May 2024, 08:20 IST
Last Updated : 02 May 2024, 08:20 IST

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Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar
Director:Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast:Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Fardeen Khan, Aditi Rao Hydari, Shekhar Suman

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a mood. And, his OTT debut, an emotion — high-strung (but, of course), glorious in its mawkishness, and unhesitatingly, indulgently schmaltzy.

Heeramandi, if you have achieved the feat of being blissfully unaware of the pre-release blitz, is Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022) on dope. Set in Lahore of the 1920s with its decadent nawabs, some scheming and other lovelorn tawaifs (played by an array of well-known actors), a few scattered shayars, and a simmering discontent against the British, the eight-part series primarily tells the tale of Mallikajaan (Manisha Koirala in a stinging comeback), the reigning madam matriarch of Heeramandi, who has killed before to survive.

She is now being challenged by Fareedan (Sonakshi Sinha), the daughter of the matriarch Mallikajaan ruthlessly strangled to death years ago. It is a jungle out there whose ugliness is barely concealed by the exquisite mirror-work on the shararas that twirl and float as the mujras play on — even the many Urdu couplets on ishq cannot stem the stench of manipulation and power games that seeps through its mahals and streets.

The casting is pitch-perfect, as is the music by Bhansali himself. One expects nothing less than the spectacular when it comes to costumes and set design in a Bhansali production and he does not disappoint. The luminescence he achieves on screen makes you wish you were seeing this in a theatre.

My advice? Watch if you get Bhansali or if you can convince yourself to be non-judgemental about his oeuvre. And if you do watch, binge, dunk yourself in this tale of debauchery and dil. Set up a mehfil and keep the wine, sorry sharbat, handy. 

Published 02 May 2024, 08:20 IST

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