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EXCLUSIVE: Sanjay Leela Bhansali addresses glorification of courtesans; historical accuracy of Heeramandi: “My work is not supposed to be seen as if rooted in reality”

en Bollywood News EXCLUSIVE: Sanjay Leela Bhansali addresses glorification of courtesans; historical accuracy of Heeramandi: “My work is not supposed to be seen as if rooted in reality”

Heeramandi, which translates to "Diamond Market," delves into the lives of courtesans within Lahore's red-light district during the British Raj.

Indian filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, known for his visually stunning and emotionally charged historical epics, has recently shed light on his creative process behind the highly talked about series Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar. Bhansali, whose dedication extends beyond box office success, prioritizes crafting immersive experiences for his audience. This series marked his first for a streaming platform and did get mixed reactions for its historical accuracy.

EXCLUSIVE Sanjay Leela Bhansali addresses glorification of courtesans; historical accuracy of Heeramandi “My work is not supposed to be seen as if rooted in reality”

EXCLUSIVE: Sanjay Leela Bhansali addresses glorification of courtesans; historical accuracy of Heeramandi: “My work is not supposed to be seen as if rooted in reality”

In a recent interview with Bollywood Hungama, Bhansali discussed his vision for Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar, set against the backdrop of a bygone era.  While the narrative unfolds within a historical context, Bhansali emphasized that the series is driven by his artistic imagination. He aspires to create a world that resonates with viewers on a deeper level, even if the specific details deviate slightly from historical records.

When asked what fascinates him about depicting stories of courtesans, Bhansali said, “These women are, number one, beautiful. These women were very sophisticated and trained in etiquette and they knew the art of living in terms of poetry. They knew tradition, and they knew the art of classical dancing and classical music, but they also had stories of suffering that went through a lot of turmoil. And that was the fun of showing them all dressed in those diamonds and the things that they were saying something. They had their own inner politics; they had to help fight as much to survive as a middle-class woman would be or a lower-class woman, a woman or a man has to survive and they go through their own struggles.”

He continued, “So, I have not only shown the glamorous part but there is a lot of inner suffering of every close-up of every move of why she's reacting like this, what she went through, or what she wants to achieve. Or to stand by the tradition of every daughter having to be a tawaif as the girl protesting and saying I don't want to. So as a mother (Mallikajaan played by Manisha Koirala), she gives us the supreme sacrifice of getting out of it.”

“These are turmoil stories that we created, some from hearsay; some from real characters,” he stated. “Not my work is not supposed to be seen as if rooted in reality, in a documentary on Lahore and Heeramandi. It's an impression of Lahore. It is an impression of Heeramandi. It's an impression of artisans and living that life. I cannot understand how it can be realistic because I have not lived in that era. I have not seen that world, I cannot document it as, as clearly as the Heermandi of today from the Heeramandi of the 30s or 20s. So when you're creating a work of fiction, it is just to create an experience for you to say what maybe those women went through. That is the joy of filmmaking. I like to create an atmosphere and an impression on your mind of what I perceive that moment to be.”

He added, “These women fought for freedom. They were all trapped – Gangubai was trapped, Mastani was trapped. Women who are used for their beauty or their bodies, and have to survive because of that, or women who want to escape that lack of dignity. The lack of dignity is the worst punishment granted to a human being because dignity is every human being’s right. Every woman should be granted dignity. This is what Gangubai said even if I'm because of whatever circumstances forced into prostitution, then be proud. I'm proud that I'm a prostitute; I give my profession dignity. I will do it with commitment. So these women when they found a purpose in Azadi and freedom, people should understand that these are multi-layer women, they're just not about clothes and fancy songs and song picturisation. There is a lot more.”

Heeramandi, which translates to "Diamond Market," delves into the lives of courtesans within Lahore's red-light district during the British Raj. The series boasts an ensemble cast, including established actresses like Manisha Koirala and Sonakshi Sinha, alongside Aditi Rao Hydari, Richa Chadha, Sharmin Segal and Sanjeeda Shaikh.

ALSO READ: Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar rakes in 8.5 million views within just 12 days of its release on Netflix

More Pages: Heeramandi Box Office Collection , Heeramandi Movie Review


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