Sanjay Leela Bhansali Had "Heeramandi" 14 Years Ago, Know The Story Of Pakistan's Prostitution Centre

For those unfamiliar, “Heeramandi” is an Urdu term referring to a diamond market and also a locality in Lahore, Pakistan……..

Renowned for his extravagant cinematic spectacles featuring lavish sets, opulent costumes, and impactful dialogues best suited for the silver screen, Sanjay Leela Bhansali is ready to make his mark on the world of web series with his debut project titled “Heeramandi.”

As the filmmaker unveiled the first glimpse of this star-studded show, fans were captivated.

The Script “Heeramandi” Was Ready 14 Years Back 

For those unfamiliar, “Heeramandi” is an Urdu term referring to a diamond market and also a locality in Lahore, Pakistan. The concept for the project was presented to Bhansali over 14 years ago by Moin Baig. However, Bhansali’s commitments to the Shah Rukh Khan-Aishwarya Rai-Madhuri Dixit starrer “Devdas” and subsequent film projects like “Saawariya,” “Guzaarish,” and “Bajirao Mastani” delayed the realization of “Heeramandi.”

Eventually, Baig requested Bhansali to return the script as no progress had been made. Little did they anticipate that it would evolve into a major Netflix web series.

Back Story Of ‘Heeramandi’ 

Heera Mandi: The Real Story of Lahore's Red Light District

“Heeramandi” traces its origins to a historical area in Lahore named after Dhian Singh Dogra, the son of Heera Singh, Prime Minister of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Initially known as “Hira Singh di Mandi,” it served as a prominent food grain market established during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Over time, it became synonymous with the tawaif (courtesan) culture, particularly during the Mughal era in the 15th and 16th centuries. The area witnessed performances of classical Indian dances by women primarily from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, entertaining Mughal elites.

Prostitution Centre: 

Following the invasion by Ahmad Shah Abdali, “Heeramandi” transformed into a center for prostitution, with Abdali’s troops establishing brothels with captured women. Subsequent British colonial rule further tarnished its reputation. Despite its daytime appearance as a regular market selling food, traditional footwear, and musical instruments, “Heeramandi” comes alive at night with the operation of brothels. However, modern influences such as escort websites and social media have impacted its business, as reported by in 2016.

Pakistan Against The Web Series ! 

Concerns have arisen among Pakistanis regarding Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s adaptation of “Heeramandi.” Some argue against an Indian filmmaker portraying a Pakistani narrative, with actress Ushna Shah expressing opposition to presenting the story from an Indian perspective when the project was announced in 2021.

Actress Mansha Pasha expressed her concerns, stating, “India is producing a film centered on Lahore and the notorious Heera Mandi of the past. In a nation where fictional narratives often face censorship, and there’s ongoing debate about moral acceptability in fiction, others seize the opportunity to capitalize on our native stories, rebrand them, and market them globally. Ultimately, our stories will be retold through someone else’s perspective. It’s disheartening.”

However, the  eagerly anticipated streaming date for the series, featuring Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditi Rao Hydari, Richa Chadha, Sharmin Segal, and Sanjeeda Sheikh in prominent roles, is yet to be announced.

Watch The Trailer: