Updated February 8th, 2024 at 00:02 IST

Heeramandi: Real Story Of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Period-drama Where Courtesans Were Queens

Sanjay Leela Bhansali's upcoming period drama Heeramandi is inspired by the lives of courtesans from pre-independent India. Know more about it.

Heeramandi | Image:Instagram

It’s Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s world and we are just living in it.

The veteran filmmaker is known for his extravagant cinematic spectacles and is currently gearing up to make his digital debut with the web series Heeramandi. A few looks and a teaser of the period drama have already been released and have left the viewers intrigued about the plot.

Manisha Koirala in a still from Heeramandi | Image: Youtube screengrab

What is the real story of Heeramandi?

The term Heeramandi originates from Urdu, signifying a diamond market and referencing an area in Lahore, Pakistan. Interestingly, the origin of this project dates back over 14 years when Bhansali was approached with the idea by Moin Baig. However, due to prior commitments, including the blockbuster Devdas, the project remained in the back seat.


Despite subsequent film ventures like Saawariya, Guzaarish and Bajirao Mastani, the realisation of Heeramandi remained blurry until now.

Historically, Heeramandi in Lahore holds significant cultural and historical relevance. Named after Dhian Singh Dogra, the son of Heera Singh and Prime Minister during Maharaja Ranjit Singh's reign, the area was initially established as a food grain market. Over time, it became synonymous with the courtesan culture, particularly during the Mughal era of the 15th and 16th centuries.


The Mughal rulers patronised classical Indian dance performances, primarily Kathak, by women from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

However, the area's fortunes took a darker turn following invasions and colonial rule. Ahmad Shah Abdali's invasion transformed Heeramandi into a centre for prostitution, further worsening during British colonial rule. Today, it remains a hub for prostitution with daytime activities seemingly ordinary, only to transform into a bustling red-light district after dark.

Despite its historical connotations, the modern-day Heeramandi faces challenges from the digital age with escort websites and social media impacting the traditional business model. However, its glamour continues while serving as a backdrop for Bhansali's upcoming web series.


Heeramandi features some of the promising talents of the industry including Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditi Rao Hydari, Richa Chadha, Sharmin Segal and Sanjeeda Sheikh.


Published February 8th, 2024 at 00:02 IST