Postmortem Spot June-24!


Heeramandi diamond bazar

Bollywood maestro Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Netflix series, “Heeramandi,” has taken the OTT platform by storm. Despite being a month since its release, it has ignited discussions across various social media platforms in recent times.This highly anticipated historical drama is based on the lives of courtesans in Lahore, Pakistan, before the partition, highlighting their contributions to the freedom movement against British rule. The web series stars Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Sanjeeda Sheikh, Aditi Rao Hydari, Richa Chadha, Sharmeen Segal, Shekhar Suman, Adhyayan Suman, Fardeen Khan, Taha Shah, Indresh Malik, and Farida Jalal in central roles.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali, director known for grandeur sets and tremendous narration

In India, Sanjay Leela Bhansali stands out as one of the distinguished filmmakers renowned for investing significantly in opulent sets, astounding visuals, and soulful music, to dazzle the audience with compelling narrative. Undoubtedly, a brief glance at any of his projects reveals that the ace director knows the art of how to fascinate a viewer into a spellbinding world that depicts simple tales. However, plain story like Hum Dil De Chukey Sanam, the timeless Devdas, a contemporary version of tragic romance, Goliyon Ki Raasleela- Ramleela or the courageous passionate story of Bajirao Mastani, every single movie by Bhansali is a breathtaking visual treat for his audience. His unwavering commitment to maintaining high standards in projects demonstrates that he never compromises on quality, and the audience recognizes his strong grip on this aspect. However, this time, he has failed to deliver, leaving the fans disappointed, and the wait was not worth it. While ‘Heeramandi’ is loaded with tremendous sets and great production values, it ultimately falls short due to the lack of authenticity and performances.

What went wrong with Heeramandi?

We believe if someone aims to depict something or someone especially when it comes to a country’s history it should be made with diligence, perfection and without any kind of biasedness. From the script, executions and to the performances there are infinite flaws that make people raise questions about the critically acclaimed director and producer’s research team and the unjustified representation of Lahore. Bhansali feels that the current generation lacks understanding of the historical importance of Heeramandi and intends to honor both the place and its habitants.The esteemed filmmaker said, “Heeramandi was a very special place, It was a place of arts, culture, etiquettes and a place of artists.” It is pertinent to mention that the series has been the director’s passion project for 14 years.

Distorted presentation from geographical perspective:

Soon after the premiere of a highly anticipated series on an OTT platform, the series has faced significant criticism, primarily because of historical inaccuracies present in the period drama. These inaccuracies encompass various aspects, including how Lahore’s locality was shown during the pre-independence era and inconsistencies in the timeline of events within the series.  The netizens who resided in Lahore and have visited the city’s area highlighted the absence of the essence in the show, pointing out the differences in architectures and landmarks. They have emphasized the significance of authentically showcasing Heeramandi’s skyline, which prominently features Shahi Qilla-the grand Mosque. Upon briefly considering the layout, it’s apparent that narrow streets were lined with multi-story residences. The social and financial hierarchy representation in the show is not based on historical accuracy.

A multitude of blunders in the portrayal of language:

Aside from the other flaws, there is one more language addition that makes Heeramandi truly unbearable for the audience. Firstly, the 1940s, which Bhansali portrays in the series, is a time when people in Lahore spoke Punjabi, not Urdu (the biggest mistake made by the research team). Secondly, if you are going to create a period drama centered around Urdu-speaking people, you should ideally appoint someone who can correct the diction and suggest appropriate words that can be used or replaced with words spoken in those days.However, there were some scenes which were quite intense but lost their impact due to the weak and inappropriate use of Urdu and its diction.

Weak Performances:

Why did Sanjay Leela Bhansali cast these actors when there was a list of highly talented actors who would have been the perfect fit for this Netflix series? The harsh reaction from the netizens is justified when versatile actors are chosen for a project but fail to deliver their best and most impactful performance. In such cases, disappointment lies not with the actors, but ultimately with the director and the one who penned the plot.This is exactly the case with Manisha Koirala. She looks helpless with the script she was given, lengthy dialogues that don’t make any sense and sound so frustrating that they severely damage her performance.Impeccable makeup and stunning attire can’t compensate for a lackluster performance; if an actor’s portrayal falls short, no amount of visual appeal can redeem it.Sharmin Saigal is the ultimate disappointment of the entire series she prioritized appearance over genuine emotive expression and skill, failing to do justice to her character.

Aditi Rao Hydari, despite being a talented actor, struggles to shine in Bhansali’s series. She appears uninterested and her performance lacks impact, mainly due to poor diction. Similarly, Richa Chadha, known for her impressive roles, disappoints as Lajjo. Sanjeeda Shaikh stands out as the only actor who performs her part well, perhaps slightly better than the rest. When it comes to the male lead, their performances were extremely unpleasant, failing to leave a positive impression on the audience.

Sonakshi Sinha emerges as the savior of the series:

Sonakshi Sinha, another great actor, failed to leave her mark despite having a more substantial character. Nonetheless, something is better than nothing. In the entire series, if there’s someone who truly stands out for their powerful portrayal, it’s Sonakshi Sinha as Fareedan. She single-handedly carries the series on her shoulders, delivering a flawless performance with wonderful expressions that leave a lasting impact on the audience’s mind.

Conclusion: Is Heeramandi an inspirational place?

It’s disturbing how people are glorifying Heeramandi and portraying it as cool and acceptable on social media, which is alarming. People are recreating scenes and dressing up as if it’s something easy to adopt, all because a series has normalized it to such an extent that people don’t even hesitate to associate with it. This normalization suggests that vulgarity has become very common, and our youth are adopting it without even thinking about what is right or wrong. Nobody is even highlighting this issue, where people who never even thought about such things are openly indulging in them to the extent that everyone is making videos about it.