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Behind-The-Scenes Of Heeramandi With Sanjay Leela Bhansali; No Season 2?

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Credits: Google

Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali took fans on a tour of the elaborate set of his debut streaming series, Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar, which debuted on Netflix on May 1. In a new featurette shared by IMDb, Bhansali and his cast, which includes Manisha Koirala, Sharmin Segal, Sanjeeda Sheikh, Sonakshi Sinha, Richa Chadha, Aditi Rao Hydari, Fardeen Khan, Shekhar Suman and Adhyayan Suman, spoke about the experience of working on such a grand scale, and the power of costumes, cinematography and production design.

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Heeramandi is a semi-historical drama set in pre-Independence Lahore; it follows the lives of a group of courtesans and noblemen, who find their personal conflicts colliding with the freedom struggle. In the featurette, Bhansali described putting the show together as ‘making three big-sized, four big-sized films.’ The idea for Heeramandi, he said, never left his mind for nearly two decades. “After every film, Heeramandi would come out. But I would say, it’s too vast, it’s too epic to be made into a two-hour film. Finally, the time came and we said, let’s make it into a series, because that will do justice to the vastness of it,” he said. Bhansali oversaw the creation of the biggest set that he has ever worked in, sprawled across three acres.

The video shows footage of the large set being built, with glimpses of the Shahi Mahal, the mosque, the town square, and the many interiors of the havelis that housed the courtesans of Heeramandi. It also shows Bhansali on set, interacting with his ‘wonderful’ cast. We see him hugging Adhyayan, corroborating the actor’s stories about being congratulated by the demanding filmmaker after nailing a difficult shot. Bhansali can also be seen participating in everything from selecting costumes to perfecting the lighting.

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Explaining his fascination for this story, Bhansali said, “The plight of the courtesans, they were queens also, but they had personal angst. They have personal joys and celebrations, but there’s sadness and pathos. All of this has to be felt in the architecture. The set has to come alive, when the actor walks in, it has to come alive. When the cameraman lights it, it has to come alive. I would want a certain kind of textile, and it comes alive when the cameraman lights it and the actor wears it. It’s very important to create a certain atmosphere. I would want a certain kind of music playing non-stop, constantly on the set.”

Towards the end of the featurette, Bhansali admitted that making Heeramandi was a demanding process, and not one that he is likely to repeat. “We’ve made it, I’ve enjoyed making it, and I’m thankful to God that we made it… It was a very difficult project. Nobody else will ever be able to make Heeramandi again, nor will I be able to make it again, because it happens once,” he said, casting a shadow of doubt over season two. Heeramandi opened to mixed reviews in May, and is touted as the most expensive Indian original Netflix has ever produced.

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