Heeramandi is the grandest show to come out of India

Heeramandi Review {3.0/5} and Review Rating

Star Cast: Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sharmeen Segal Mehta, Sanjida Shaikh, Taha Shah

Movie Review: Heeramandi is one of the grandest shows to come out of India and is studded with great performances

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Hiramandi It is the story of the life of a courtesan. The year is 1945. In Lahore there lives a great courtesan in a neighborhood called Heeramandi. The grand residence of these Natch girls is the royal palace, Mallikajan (To Manisha Koirashe lives here with her daughter Bibbo (Aditi Rao Hydari) and Alamzeb (Sharmin Segal Mehta), sister Wahida (Sanjida Shaikh), Wahida’s daughter Shama (Pratibha Ranta) and helpers Saima (Shruti Sharma), Fatto (Jayati Bhatia) and Satto (Nivedita Bhargava). While Mallikajan is in a relationship with Nawab Zulfiqar (Shekhar Suman), Bibbo and Nawab Wali Mohammad (Fardeen Khan) are a couple. Mallikajan wished Alamzeb all the best for her debut dance performance in front of an elite audience. But Alamzeb A ‘Tawaif’, she wants to be a poet instead. Mallikajan does not accept it. One day, Alamzeb bumps into Tajdar Baloch (Taha Shah), Ashfaq Baloch (Ujjwal Chopra), son of a nawab who has returned from Oxford, and sparks fly between them. The ‘Tawaif’ Falling in love is forbidden but Alamjeb jumps. Meanwhile, Mallikajan gets a shock as Fardidan takes her life.Sonakshi Sinha), the daughter of the former’s sister Rehana, returns from nowhere and buys a mansion opposite the Shahi Mahal. She is in Hiramandi to destroy Mallikajan and settle past dues. She decides to use her love for Alamzeb and Tajdar to her advantage. What happens next plays out in the rest of the series.

Hiramandi Story Review:
Moeen Baig’s original story is fascinating, especially the world it is set in and how the characters have to pay for the mistakes of others. Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Vibhu Puri’s screenplay, however, is mixed. Some scenes are fanciful and very well thought out, while others are draggy and don’t make the desired impact. Also, some developments are convenient and ridiculous. Divya Nidhi and Vibhu Puri’s dialogues (additional dialogues by Mitakshara Mukesh Kumar, Snejil Mehra, Abhiruchi Rupal Rishi and Ashna Srivastava) are very sharp and punchy.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s direction is fine. As expected, it elevates the show to an ambitious scale. The magnificence is unprecedented and his supernatural trademark stamp is visible from start to finish. Although it is a show about prostitutes, it does not contain profanity or skin shows. It’s also a rare web series where none of the characters swear, though there was plenty of scope for that. Mallikajan rejecting Cartwright’s (Jason Shah) invitation without saying a word, Mallikajan teaching Jorawar (Adhyayan Suman) a lesson, Faridan’s entry, Faridan’s flop dance debut, Faridan’s photo clicking etc. The love story between Alamzeb and Tajdar is sweet.

On the other hand, HEERAMANDI gives a déjà vu to the Vidya Balan-starrer Begum Jaan (2017), which is also about the same characters set in the late 40s. There are a lot of stupid things going on. For example, Zulfiqar handing over an important file to Mallikajan is surprising; Ideally, he should destroy it. It is also very convenient for Farid to keep the file next to Mallikajan when Mallikajan walks in. The show is interesting till the Mallikajan vs Faridan series. But once the freedom struggle track takes center stage, the show loses its luster. Again, the unconvincing moments continue in this track as well. Hameed (Anuj Sharma) kills two officers without fear but in the very next scene he hesitates to kill two more officers. His comrade Rizwan is forced to give his life. It is clear that Rizwan’s death is added for effect but it could have been handled better. Nawab is there after a point. The Phufi (Anju Mahendru) angle is not well explained either.

However, Hiramandi’s biggest problem is that it is extremely slow. It has 8 episodes or in other words, more than 7 hours. Sitting on it requires a lot of patience, especially for those who like to binge-watch.

Hiramandi performance:
The exhibits are first class. Manisha Koirala is rocking the show and playing the lead role. She brings the necessary poise and elegance nicely and this is easily one of her best performances. Sonakshi Sinha will also make a difference in her film career. Faridan has a lot of anger and vents it easily. Her one-take performance in ‘Tilasmi Behin’ is avoidable. Aditi Rao Hydari is slightly overshadowed but still, puts her best foot forward. Sharmeen Segal Mehta proves that she has improved as an artist. However, she can do better in emotional scenes. Her dancing skills also need to be polished. Taha Shah gets a lot of screen time and is a revelation. Richa Chadha (Lajjo) is very good and wishes she got more screen time. Sanjeeda Shaikh is memorable. Indresh Malik (Ustad Ji) is interesting and it is interesting to see how he is the bearer of bad news to the characters. Jayati Bhatia, Nivedita Bhargava and Shruti Sharma ably contributed. Shekhar Suman is fine but barely. Although Fardeen Khan is wasted, he is glad to have him back. Adhyayan Suman also has limited screen time but stands out because of the marriage sequence. Rajat Kaul (Iqbal; Saima’s boyfriend) does a good job but his character is forgettable after a point. Farida Jalal (Kudisa) is charming. Ujjwal Chopra, Jason Shah, Mark Bennington (Henderson), Rohit Pichouri (Balraj) and Anuj Sharma are decent. Nasir Khan (Chawdhury), Anju Mahendru and Pratibha Ranta have not much.

Hiramandi music and other technical aspects:
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s music is soulful but doesn’t have a long shelf life. ‘Tilasmi Behin’ The latter is the best of the lot ‘Masoom Dil Hai Mera’, ‘Saiya Haat Jao’, ‘Phoul Gendwa Na Maro’ And ‘morning off’. ‘Ik Baar Dekh Lijiye’, ‘Azaadi’, ‘Najriya Ki Meri’ And ‘Chodveen Shab Ko Kauhan’ Failed to register. The background score by Benedict Taylor and Naren Chandavarkar is encouraging though. Choreography by Kruti Mahesh is well researched and effective.

The cinematography by Sudeep Chatterjee, Mahesh Limaye, Huentsang Mohapatra and Ragul Herian Dharuman is neat and classy. The production design by Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray is out of this world and adds to the impact. Rimple Narula and Harpreet Narula’s costumes and jewelery are very attractive and beautiful. Vikram Dahiya’s action is a bit angry. FutureWorks’ VFX is decent. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s editing is slow and could have been faster.

Hiramandi Conclusion:
Overall, HEERAMANDI is one of the grandest shows to come out of India and is laced with great performances and some passionate dramatic scenes. However, it is unconvincing in places and too long. Still, due to the hype, casting and visual appeal, it is expected to garner a huge audience.

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