These ladies wore the scars of loss and betrayal, swirling in Dyfrees’ voice and charming their aristocratic clientele in Mayfairs, accessible only to the elite.
Beautiful women in sparkling ensembles dance to gungroo and classical music at Lahore’s Heera Mandi diamond market. The legend of the prostitutes of Hiramundi has long fascinated us. Beautiful, talented women with stories. These ladies covered up the scars of loss and betrayal as they spun to the voice of Dyfrees and charmed their aristocratic clientele in Mayfairs, where only the elite could attend.
Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali makes his digital debut on Netflix with Heramandi: The Diamond Bazaar. Starring Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditi Rao Hydari and Richa Chadha, this epic show tells the saga of love, power, revenge, and freedom.
Talking about Hira Mandi, the director said, “These are beautiful women, the queens of Hira Mandi. They are prostitutes behind the veil, they hide so much pain. But despite that, they sang and danced every night and looked beautiful. So look at the women who live on the fringes of society, even as they are looked down upon by the society that seeks their pleasure. They make these people happy and then they leave them. When these women reached puberty, they were abandoned. They disguise and disguise their pain under the jewelry and makeup they wear. That’s what the whole series is about. “
The producer was full of praise for his cast: “These girls gave excellent performances. I reunited with Manisha (Koirala) who acted in my first film Kamushi. They went through a rigorous process to bring this story to life. “
With Heeramandi: Diamond Bazaar, the filmmaker hopes to bring his storytelling style, deeply rooted in Indian aesthetics, to a global audience. “They are special characters and it took me a year and a half to write about them. Beauty often comes from pain, and art is partly created by tormented souls. These women are these artists. “
Actor Aditi Rao Hydari who had collaborated with the director on Padmavaat, says apart from his aesthetics, it was his insight into the mind of a woman that makes the show an enchanting piece of work.
Also starring Sharmin Segal and Sanjeeda Sheikh, Heermandi: The Diamond Bazaar is one of the most anticipated shows, bearing the filmmakers’ signature style.
What is the significance of Heeramandi?
Heeramandi, an interesting term carries a rich historical background. Let me explore what this means:
Etymology and origin:
- Heeramandi is an Urdu word meaning “diamond market”. This also applies to an area in Lahore, Pakistan.
- The concept of Heeramandi was first suggested by Moin Baig to Sanjay Leela Bhansali 14 years ago. However, the plan is yet to go ahead due to various film projects including ‘Devdas’, ‘Saawariya’ and ‘Bajirao Mastani’.
- During the Mughal era (15th and 16th centuries), Hira Mandi was a bustling center where women, mostly from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, entertained the Mughal emperors by performing Indian classical dances such as Kathak. The district was named after Diana Singh Dogra, son of Heera Singh, who was the Prime Minister of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
- Hira Mandi is not only a diamond market but also a center of Tawaif (prostitute) culture. Courtesan Culture:
- During Mughal rule, these courtesans were great artists whose performances attracted the elite.
- But during the British colonial period, the area’s reputation deteriorated and it became a center for prostitution. This shift was exacerbated by the incursions of Ahmed Shah Abdali, who led his troops to open brothels.
Hira Mandi Today:
- Today, Hira Mandi remains a center of prostitution. During the day, it just looks like a regular market selling food, traditional Mughal shoes (Khussa) and musical instruments.
- But at night, the brothels open for business, and despite the rise of escort sites and social media, business continues. Sanjay Leela Bhansali Web Series:
- Heeramandi is the backdrop for Bhansali’s web series, which explores love, betrayal, and the life of a prostitute during India’s freedom struggle in the 1940s.
- However, some Pakistanis expressed displeasure and questioned how Indian filmmakers portrayed Lahore and Hir Mandi from their perspective1. Overall, Hiramundi contains a fascinating mix of history, art and social change, making it a fascinating site to explore.
What is the history of Heeramandi?
Heeramandi, a name that resonates with intrigue and echoes of bygone eras, holds a captivating history. Let me weave together the threads of its past:
Origins and Etymology:
The term Heeramandi finds its roots in Urdu, where it translates to “diamond market.”
This historical enclave is situated in the vibrant city of Lahore, Pakistan.
Mughal Era Splendor:
During the Mughal dynasty (15th and 16th centuries), Heeramandi thrived as a bustling center.
Here, courtesans, primarily hailing from regions like Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, graced the stage with their mesmerizing performances.
Classical Indian dances, such as Kathak, unfolded in this cultural haven, captivating the Mughal emperors.
The Courtesans of Heeramandi:
These courtesans were not mere entertainers; they were skilled artists who blended dance, music, and poetry.
Their allure extended beyond the physical; they held court in matters of intellect and wit.
Heeramandi became synonymous with their grace, talent, and enigmatic lives.
Heera Singh’s Legacy:
The area’s name traces back to Dhian Singh Dogra, son of Heera Singh, who served as the Prime Minister of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Heeramandi was not just a diamond market; it was a hub for the tawaif culture—a world where art, beauty, and desire intertwined.
Decline and Transformation:
As the British colonial era dawned, Heeramandi’s reputation underwent a shift.
The decline was exacerbated by Ahmad Shah Abdali’s invasion, leading to the establishment of brothels by his troops.
The once-glorious center of art and culture gradually transformed into a prostitution hub.
In the present day, Heeramandi wears a dual facade.
By day, it masquerades as an ordinary market, selling traditional Mughal footwear (Khussa), food, and musical instruments.
But as night descends, the hidden truth emerges—the brothels open their doors, and the legacy persists.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Exploration:
Bollywood filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali has long been fascinated by Heeramandi.
His upcoming web series promises to delve into the lives of courtesans during the 1940s Indian freedom struggle against the backdrop of this historic locale.
In summary, Heeramandi weaves together passion, artistry, and societal shifts—a tapestry that spans centuries and whispers tales of love, betrayal, and resilience.
What are some famous landmarks or attractions in Heeramandi?
Safe! With a rich history and a vibrant present, Heramandi is home to many landmarks and attractions. Let’s explore them:
- Address: Shahra-e-Quaid-e-Azam, Lahore, Punjab, 54000. We’re open every day from 9:00 in the morning to 7:00 in the evening.
- Review Rating: Impressive 4.6 stars out of 5. The Lahore Museum is a cultural jewel that preserves artefacts, art and history. It provides an insight into Lahore’s rich heritage, including aspects related to Heeramandi.
- Performers and Royal Relations:
- Hira Mandi has produced great performers including the legendary Noor Jahan, Khurshid Begum and Mumtaz Shanti.
- Interestingly, the area is graced by the former residence of Sir Ganga Ram, often referred to as the “Father of Modern Lahore”.
Sheila Mundi’s Dual Identity:
- During the day, Hira Mandi looks like any other busy market in Pakistan.
- Visitors can sample delicacies, explore a variety of Khussa (traditional Mughal footwear) and browse through shops selling musical instruments and dance-related items. But when night falls, the hidden world of the brothel above the store comes alive, revealing the double presence of the neighborhood.
- During the Mughal period, Hirai Mandi was of symbolic importance to Lahore. Its heritage is intertwined with art, culture and the interesting life of prostitutes.
- In casual conversation, even the word “Heera Mandi” can arouse curiosity and sometimes even offend3. All in all, Hira Mandi is a tapestry of history, art and human stories – a place where the past whispers and the present dances.