Is Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar based on a true story?

What does Heera Mandi mean?

Heera Mandi (which translates to Diamond Market, is a neighbourhood located in the Walled City of Lahore. The place is a red-light district of Lahore, Pakistan (formerly a part of India). The Netflix original – Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar is set in pre-partition India when the British Army ruled the country.

The word Heeramandi comes from the term “Hira Singh Di Mandi’ (translated as – Hira Singh’s food grain market). The word was later transformed into what we know as Heeramandi in the present time. 

What is the Netflix show Heeramandi about?

The Sanjay Leela Bhansali show Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar narrates the story of courtesans who lived in the Shahi Mahal of Heeramandi in the 1920s. The 8-episode drama focuses on the lives of the courtesans who danced in the grand palaces in exchange for rewards from the Nawabs (the noblemen) of Lahore.

While the focus of the show was the life of the courtesans and the intense conflict between Mallikajaan and Fareedan, the show transforms into a political drama with courtesans participating in the struggle for the freedom of India from British Rule.

Is Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar based on a true story?

Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the creator and director of Heeramandi takes inspiration for the show from the real-life events of the time. However, the show is a cookie-cutter version of the historical truth. For starters, the story glamorizes the lives of the courtesans who lived in the Diamond Bazaar.

The atrocities towards the courtesan community have been toned down by quite a lot the show mainly focuses on the contribution of the courtesans in the Indian freedom struggle.

.The British colonial rule solidified Heeramandi’s reputation as a hub for prostitution and the women as well as the transgenders from the Shahi Mahal offered traditional and classical dances. From the British colonial period till the recent past, Heeramandi has remained a centre of prostitution in Lahore.

Many Hijras (transgenders) frequent the area and are involved in the area’s dance culture. After the partition of India and Pakistan, Heeramandi still operates in Lahore, Pakistan where the tawaifs performed dances making it a centre of the performing arts.

Tawaif’s patrons were no longer emperors and nobles but wealthy men from the city. Due to this, Heeramandi eventually earned the nickname – “Bazaar-e-Husn” (Market of Beauty).

What will Heeramandi Season 2 be about?

Following the partition of India and Pakistan, young and attractive tawaifs from Heeramandi became the first choice of filmmakers in the Pakistan film industry. Girls from the Heeramandi joined Lollywood (the Pakistani film industry) where they gained much fame and wealth.

Some of the most skilled tawaifs performed as backup dancers in early Pakistani films while many others moved to states like Bombay and Kolkatta in India to become a part of the Indian Film Industry (i.e. Bollywood). With the news of Season 2 of the Netflix Original drama, Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar, we can expect to see the journey of some of the tawaifs from Lahore, Pakistan to Bombay and Kolkatta, India.

What do you think about the truth of the Diamond Bazaar – Heeramandi? What are your thoughts on this Netflix India Original Drama? Let us know in the comments below!

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