Heeramandi: An Over Thought Out Review

Let me start by admitting that I might be reading too much into the show. And, of course, spoilers ahead.

When I saw the first look of the show, I was intrigued. I knew I was going to love the show just because the man, the legend, Sanjay Leena Bhansali was at the helm of this project. The added allure of Manisha Koirala being a significant part of the project only heightened my excitement. Needless to say, the costumes, set design, and choreography had my rapt attention. I'm glad to report that the show didn't disappoint in these aspects. Every minute detail was meticulously crafted, though I did catch a continuity error—not something I expected from a Bhansali production.

But here’s where my confusion begins.

The trailer was cut in such a way that the series seemed to seamlessly blend the lives of the Tawaifs, Heeramandi, and the Indian freedom struggle. I was under the impression that the show would tell a story about how Heeramandi participated in the freedom struggle, our homegrown Matahari if you will.

However, halfway through, I was still hunting for that plot point. I eagerly awaited the freedom angle. While I wasn’t bored and thoroughly enjoyed the storyline, I found myself waiting for another layer to emerge. And then suddenly, before we realise it, the story has moved on from the life of the Tawaifs and their internal conflicts to the freedom struggle.

This shift is where most viewers felt perplexed, sensing loose ends. Yet, this is precisely where I begin to overthink and discover a certain beauty in the storytelling.

It all starts with the gang rape, we see that the prominent character of Manisha Koirala is brought to the knees by the British, quite literally. We see how that incident scars her, in a way, that when she needed to really wield her strength and fight for her right and daughter, no one seemed to be coming to her aid. 

It seemed like all the Tawaifs suddenly encountered incidents where they were shown that they did not really wield the power they thought they did. 

Then, there's a union of sorts, where they band together to join the freedom struggle. It mirrors real life according to me—how we carry on with our daily routines, deal with the mundane drama, relish small victories, and endure sorrows, until something monumental shakes us to our core and sharpens our focus on a larger goal. This is precisely what I believe happens in Heeramandi. The Tawaifs are jolted from their stupor and must confront the sweeping changes in society. 

For me, this is almost poetic, and it’s one of the reasons why I love the show.