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Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Heeramandi: The courtesans were women I wanted to meet in real life

The series will premiere on Netflix.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Heeramandi: The courtesans were women I wanted to meet in real life

Last Updated: 01.42 PM, Feb 18, 2023


After a long wait, Sanjay Leela Bhansali finally unveiled the regal first look of his upcoming series Heeramandi. The filmmaker was present at the event in Mumbai to launch the first glimpse of the series, where he revealed how close to his heart the show was.

SJB said “These great courtesans, they lived like queens. They had the nawabs, politicians and British officers at their beck and call. The courtesans were artists, singers, dancers, connoisseurs of good poetry and art. So they were women that I would have liked to meet in real life”.

After the country’s independence and partition, gone were the nawabs and the riches, and SJB started to wonder what impact it would have had on the courtesans.

He revealed that when it came to most of the films he did, he would let the idea germinate in his head for a number of years, even as long as 8, thinking about the idea from start to finish. Heeramandi, he revealed, was 14 years in the making, staying in his mind for all those years. The story had taken almost one and a half years to actually write and create

While developing the show, SJB was perplexed on how he would give it the dignity of a world and place that he had never seen. He was also confused as to how to go about directing the performances as well.

In the end, he had decided to let his imagination run wild, saying “So most of the times I am not seeing things as they are. And here I was getting a chance to completely take off”.

He said that when he started working on them, he felt as though he was feeling the right energy, and had also cast beautiful women in the form of Manisha Koirala, Richa Chadha, Aditi Rao Hydari and Sonakshi Sinha, among others. He had felt that everything was slowly falling into place, including the costumes and art direction as well. “I experienced joy in creating a world which I had not seen, which had to look real and authentic”.

Regarding the characters, SJB spoke of how each of them had angst, anguish, joy and an array of emotions that he had to capture authentically as well, which the courtesans had to hide.

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