Heeramandi: A Feast for the Eyes, a Palette of Reviews

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Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar“, a popular series currently streaming on Netflix, vividly brings to life an old-time world through the keen vision of filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Set in Lahore before the country was partitioned, the show explores the lives of courtesans, weaving their personal stories into the broader cultural and political context of the era. When we reached out to our writers and readers for their thoughts on “Heeramandi,” they responded enthusiastically, offering diverse insights into the series. Here’s a look at their reviews.

Surangama Guha, an expert in the field of education and an insightful writer for SheSight, shares her impressions of the series. She mentions that although she hasn’t finished it yet, the episodes she’s watched are visually striking. She notes, “The series emphasizes beauty as a cruel facade and it makes the audiences the desire to feel empathetic. The classical art form is good, overall, I would say it is an engaging experience and it keeps hooked to the show because of the sheer work the actors have put in.”

Our esteemed shewriter, Dr. Sailaja, known for her expertise in eco-awareness, observes that “Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar” is a visually stunning yet narratively flawed endeavor. While it may satisfy those seeking a spectacle for the eyes, those craving a nuanced narrative may be disappointed. Despite its shortcomings, “Heeramandi” offers glimpses of brilliance, reminding viewers of Bhansali’s unparalleled ability to create cinematic magic.”

She adds that Bhansali’s admiration for classical Sufi and Urdu poetry shines through from the very first scene. References to poets like Amir Khusrow and Ghalib add a lyrical quality to the dialogues, especially when delivered by Sharmin Sehgal, whose performance adds a dramatic flair reminiscent of classic Bollywood heroines.

However, Sharmin’s character, Alam, comes across as too stoic, which might leave viewers questioning Bhansali’s casting choices, especially since Sharmin is his niece. This casting could be seen as a missed opportunity to dive deeper into the character’s complexities.

Visually, the series is a masterpiece. Every scene is meticulously crafted, from the lavish costumes to the detailed sets, making each frame resemble a grand painting. But while it’s gorgeous to look at, the story sometimes feels shallow, especially in developing its characters fully.

The intense rivalry between Mallikajaan and Fareedan, played by Manisha Koirala and Sonakshi Sinha, is initially gripping but fizzles out towards the end, leaving us wanting a more powerful conclusion to their fiery conflict.

Aditi Rao Hydari also stands out as Bibbojaan, bringing elegance and mystery to her role, but the series doesn’t always give its talented cast enough material to work with. This results in some performances feeling a bit forced or lacking the impact they could have had.

The romance subplot and the political commentary also feel underdeveloped and sometimes out of place, detracting from the main storyline rather than enriching it.

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Lopita Chaudhuri, one of our passionate readers, was really impressed watching “Heeramandi”. She couldn’t get over how gorgeous the sets were and how smoothly the story unfolded, all thanks to Bhansali’s keen eye for detail. She loved the love story, the elegant dance of the lehengas, and the meaningful glances that told their own stories of hardship. Lopita also enjoyed the music, especially the Thumris and Ghazals. She expressed, “Beautifully captured…..the love longing the dreams…Not to forget the Thumris n Gazals of which I wish where were a wee bit more …I can go on n on  loved the movie n loved what they said in end …the struggle still goes on the massacre of the innocent  nubile girls …a story well told …..”

Jovita Asish, a high school senior and one of our youngest readers feels that “”Heeramandi” is a captivating exploration of love, power, and survival in a world where every choice comes with a price.” She highlights Malaikajan’s formidable presence, Alamzaeh and Tajdar’s tender love story, and Lajjo’s journey of self-discovery as key elements that resonate deeply with the audience. Furthermore, Jovita emphasizes Faredeen’s enigmatic character, which adds suspense to the narrative and keeps viewers engaged until the very end. She commends the series for its portrayal of the resilience of the human spirit emphasizing the significance of every decision made within the narrative.

From what our valued members like Dr. Sailaja, Lopita Chaudhuri, Surangama Guha and Jovita Ashish have shared, it’s evident that while the series is stunning, it sometimes struggles with its storytelling. Dr. Sailaja felt the narrative sometimes lost its direction, and Lopita was enamored with the gorgeous sets and wished for more of the soulful Thumris and Ghazals. Surangama appreciated the exquisite detail in everything from the actors to the set decorations, noting Bhansali’s skill in crafting a beautiful yet politically nuanced backdrop. Jovita valued its honest depiction of life in Lahore’s notorious district of Heeramandi.

Overall, “Heeramandi” offers a mixed experience: its visual splendor is undeniable, and it has moments of brilliance, but it sometimes falls short in delivering a consistently engaging story.

-Staff Reporter

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