Published 10:37 IST, May 22nd 2024

Sanjay Leela Bhansali Defends Heeramandi Against Criticism For Glorifying The Lives Of Courtesans

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has opened up about the criticism met by his debut web series Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar which is based on the lives of courtesans.

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Sanjay Leela Bhansali | Image: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is basking in the success of his directorial web series Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar. While the series has received an overwhelmingly positive response, a section on the society has also pointed out the inaccuracies in the depiction of the pre-Independence era. There has also been a discussion of the filmmaker glorifying the lives of courtesans and sex workers in his work. In a new interview, the director has defended his stance. 

I have not seen that world: Sanjay Leela Bhansali defends Heeramandi 

In an interview with Bollywood Hungama, Sanjay Leela Bhansali opened up about his body of work and his fascination with the lives of courtesans which underlines the plot of most of his films. The director also gave a reply to the conjecture against those criticising him for inaccuracies in Heeramandi. 


The Devdas actor shared, “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.” He added that the work in Heermandi is mostly based on his imagination and perception of what the women might be going through. He added, “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.” 

Sanjay Leela Bhansali on his fascination with the lives of courtesans and sex-workers 

In the same conversation, Sanjay also shared what draws him to the tales of courtesans. His movies like Devdas, Gangubai Kathiawadi and now Heeramandi are all based on the lives of such women. Talking about the same, he 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.”


He also admitted that inner politics was going through in their lives and their survival was a struggle. He added, “They had their own inner politics; they had to fight as much to survive as a middle-class woman or a lower-class woman, a woman or a man has to survive and they go through their own struggles. So, I have not only shown the glamorous part but there are turmoil stories that we created, some from hearsay; some from real characters.” Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar chronicles the lives of the courtesans in the pre-Indepence era.

10:37 IST, May 22nd 2024