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Sanjay Leela Bhansali on criticism over historical inaccuracies in 'Heeramandi': In my mind, it was the most romantic place to be in

Updated on: 19 May,2024 01:16 PM IST  |  Mumbai
mid-day online correspondent |

Heeramandi creator has finally broken silence over the criticism of the historical inaccuracies revolving around the show set in the 1920s

Sanjay Leela Bhansali on criticism over historical inaccuracies in 'Heeramandi': In my mind, it was the most romantic place to be in

Sanjay Leela Bhansali

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Sanjay Leela Bhansali's new series, 'Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar, stirred up mixed opinions when it premiered. However, it's been a hit on Netflix, landing in the number two spot for non-English language shows in its first week. Many also called out the series for its historical inaccuracies. The show is set in the 1920s, in Lahore. The series narrates the stories of courtesans in 'Heeramandi' and their contribution to India's freedom struggle. Now, weeks after the film's release, creator Sanjay Leela Bhansali has opened up about the criticism around the show's inaccuracies. 


Talking to Galatta Plus, Bhansali said that his films are a visual experience and are larger-than-life. "In my mind, it was the most romantic place to be in. I come from that world. I’ve always watched films with pimps and prostitutes around in the theatres. My cinema will always have that dramatic touch and that larger-than-life approach, which is not subtle, which is not delicate, but it is heartfelt. It’ll have the dignity of it being told on the screen because I work on the visual of it. It has to be worthy of being there because I’m reliving a certain moment of my life, of this life, maybe past life.”


He further added, “I am responsible for giving my audience an experience, and I will give them the fullest of mine. I’m not here to make money, I’m here to make a film. I’m here to make an experience for you.”


Bhansali has made several films on the life of courtesans in the past including Devdas and Gangubai Kathiawadi. When asked what attracts him to the life of courtesans, the filmmaker explained, “I feel they are women who have a lot of enigma, a lot of mystery. The courtesan, or the tawaif, or the prostitute… they are different. But they always exude a certain kind of power which I find very interesting to look at… I found that very fascinating, that these women are very interesting. Where they sing, they dance. Where they express themselves; their joy and their grief in music and dance. They understand the art of living, the importance of architecture, the use of fabric, and the kind of jewelery they wear. They are connoisseurs of art.”

He further continued, "Hum log kya hein? Hum log artist log hain. Usko ap samajhgir bolo, bhand bolo… jo chahe bolo. Mere ko to woh chahiye. I have to create something that is very enigmatic. As a child, all those people that would pass by… mein school mein jaata hu toh ye chehre mujhe fascinate karte he. Waha pe jo ration ki line mein jo chaar middle-class housewives khade hain woh mujhe fascinate nahi karti (Who are we? We are artists. Whatever you might call them, I still need them. When I used to go to school, I was fascinated by those faces. Those four middle-class women in the ration line do not interest me)."

'Heeramandi' is based on the red-light district called Heera Mandi in Lahore (now, in present-day Pakistan) during the pre-partition era. The Netflix series stars Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sanjeeda Sheikh, Richa Chadha, Sharmin Segal, Shekhar Suman and Adhyayan Suman in pivotal characters. Fardeen Khan, Farida Jalal, Jason Shah and Mark Bennington also play crucial roles in the series.

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