Shocking Secrets From Behind The Scenes Of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Heeramandi!

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With Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar, a large-scale project in association with Netflix, renowned director Sanjay Leela Bhansali makes his foray into the world of streaming. The groundbreaking series set in the 1940s, centres on the courtesans of Lahore’s Heera Mandi, a red-light district, who are threatened by a new force as unrest grows in British-ruled India. Richa Chadha, Sanjeeda Sheikh, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sonakshi Sinha, Sharmin Segal, and Manisha Koirala are among the gifted ensemble cast members of the historical drama. Along with Shekhar Suman and his son Adhyayan Suman, Fardeen Khan and Taha Shah Badussha will also have supporting parts in the series.


Sonakshi Sinha, who won the highest salary of any actress in the series, was compensated Rs 2 crore for her crucial part. 

Manisha Koirala received Rs 1 crore in payment for the role of Mallika Jaan.

Aditi Rao Hydari who portrayed Bibojaan made Rs 1.5 crore in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama.


Richa Chadha sought Rs 1 crore for her crucial role as Lajjo, resuming her partnership with Bhansali.

The role of Waheeda in Heeramandi was negotiated for Rs 40 lakh by Sanjeeda Sheikh.

The niece of Bhansali, Sharmin Segal, got Rs 35 lakh for her role as Alamzeb.



Manisha Koirala (Mallikajaan in the show) opened up about the intimate scene from episode 1, which features Shekhar Suman's Nawab Zulfikar and Mallikajaan travelling in a horse carriage. The actress was asked if she was aware of the scene. She said, "See, every little thing Sanjay [Leela Bhansali] does, he tries to bring in a new element that we hadn't thought of, and he does it. So even about this scene, when rehearsals were going on, it must have been new."

Before this, Shekhar Suman also shared his thoughts about the intimate scene. Shekhar shared, “Normally like any other actor, I just went completely prepared with my line what was given to me with my own interpretation. When the scene was just about to begin, he called me and said, ‘I have thought of a bizarre interpretation of this. Are you open to it?' I said, ‘Yes', and he completely turned it around and it was something that nobody had thought.” The actor continued, “He, (Sanjay Leela Bhansali) out of the blue, he probably thought that this is done to death kind of thing. Let me do it this way. So it's about this Nawab, who is pissed drunk, is peeing out of a carriage pulled by Mallikajaan. And he is trying to, in his state of inebriation, trying to make it out with her.” Talking about Sanjay Leela Bhansali's vision, Shekhar Suman added, “He (Sanjay Leela Bhansali) said, ‘No, turn the other way around. And then he (Nawab Zulfikar) takes a fellatio, sort of an oral s*x mid-air, thinking that Mallikajaan is sitting on that side. And he (Nawab Zulfikar) is convinced because he is nawab and he has turned. So Mallikajaan says, ‘What are you doing? I'm here.' He says, ‘No. I know what I'm doing, and I know you are here.' So, that was a very strange interpretation and that has not been done by any actor or director ever before that somebody is having s*x mid-air. But done nicely.”


Shekhar Suman also revealed Sanjay Leela Bhansali's reaction to his performance. He said, “I did that. As I said, I did that very instinctively and he came running and said, ‘Magnificent, magnificent.' So that was it. It was a pack-up after that and all the technicians came running and said, ‘Thank you. Otherwise, this scene would have gone on and on because of the way he is. He is a stickler. If any other actor had not caught the sur, then it would be another 6 hours, 7-8 hours. But it just happens so right because I knew that the person who is standing in front of me, what he has explained to me, and what I have assimilated the outcome is going to be just right.”

Fardeen said, “Whenever he was getting flustered, or wasn't getting what he wanted, or he was frustrated about something… To calm him down, the assistant directors would send these 25 dogs that Mr. Bhansali has, on the sets of Heeramandi and the minute they went on to set, he used to be calm.”

Sanjay Leela Bhansali Yelled At Aditi Rao


“One day, we did two or three takes, and then he just called me very sweetly and started speaking to me. I immediately got transported to another world. He speaks very beautifully and sincerely, so it’s very passionate, and I had tears in my eyes. And then he said we were going to shoot this scene and gave everybody a lunch break but said, 'But, you will not eat. Is that okay?' I was like, ‘Done’," Hyadari said. She added, "So, I didn’t eat, and it really helped me. It kept me on edge and not soft. I went back to my van and just thought about everything that he said. He basically told me a story. I came back, and we shot it, and it was okayed."

Jwellery pieces on heeramandi cast

Richa Chadha in an interview with Sucharita Tyagi revealed that every pasa, tika, nath, and necklace worn in the web series was as “real” as it could get. “All of the jewellery is real. If I would wear all of it and run then I could make another film of my own if I wore all of it cumulatively,” she said.


We worked day in and day out, just to bring the vision to reality. More than 10,000 pieces and more than 300 kgs of jewellery in total were crafted.” Not just on the ladies but as part of the sets too can you witness the magic of these pieces through the scenes of the webseries as well.


Biggest Set Of Heeramandi

“But I like to be lost, lost in bigger spaces. So, I enjoy big sets,” says Bhansali to AD during an exclusive visit to his three-acre set of his upcoming eight-part series, Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar.

Bhansali’s earlier films Devdas (2002), Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Padmaavat (2018) were all grand, but Heeramandi is grander. It’s a brilliant spectacle, which beats them all in not just scale but also art and architecture. For seven months straight, 700 craftsmen worked at Mumbai’s Film City to erect the set on about 60,000 wooden planks and metal frames.

The floor houses the Shahi Mahal (royal palace) of Mallikajaan, Madam of the most powerful brothel in Heera Mandi, essayed by Manisha Koirala. There is the Khwabgaah, the quarters of Fareedan, a rival courtesan played by Sonakshi Sinha. There is also a splendid white mosque, a huge courtyard, a dancing hall, complete with water fountains, a colonial-looking room, which are the quarters of a young prince and roads and shops, and other smaller kothas and also a hammam room, all decked up to ooze opulence and showcase the rich arts, crafts and textiles of the time. The detailed Mughal miniature paintings on the walls, the delicate frescoes, the colonial portraits of British officers, the filigree work on the window frames, the enamel carving on the floor, the minutely etched wooden doors and even the chandeliers are all handmade under Bhansali’s supervision. The teak wood furniture dating back to the 1930s and 40s was brought from an antique store in Amdavad, which in itself is a museum in its own right as it is spread across 15 acres. Also, we are told that some sofas and tables used in the series have been purchased by Bhansali himself for his collection.

Heeramandi’s set is a legit township, straight out of Bhansali’s mind that was quietly being conceptualised for 18 years. The set is his interpretation of what Heera Mandi, the epitome of arts and culture, the place where poetry was a way of life and where classical dances were nurtured, would look like. It’s the home and the world of the characters that he has painstakingly created. “When there are characters I love a lot, I create special spaces for them,” says Bhansali. He thinks about what space Mallikajaan would want to be in, what would be the colour palette of her brothel, what would the pillars and the carvings on it look like, and also be inspired by the Islamic and Hindu art influences of the time. “My art directors (Amit Ray and Subrata Chakraborty) are petrified when I call them,” says Bhansali, chuckling. “I chew their brains until I get things right.”




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