scorecardAnother season of Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar is in the works! Dare we hope for more substance this time?
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Another season of Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar is in the works! Dare we hope for more substance this time?

Another season of Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar is in the works! Dare we hope for more substance this time?
EntertainmentEntertainment3 min read
After climbing to Netflix's Top 10 TV (Non-English) list in a staggering 43 countries since its debut on May 1, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s first-ever magnum opus series Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar has been greenlit for a second season. How do we know this? A flash mob of 100 dancers, adorned in sparkling anarkalis and ghungroos, took to Carter Road, Mumbai, in a breathtaking celebration of the series to make the announcement.

Despite a splashy debut and a star-studded cast, the first season received mixed reviews with some praising the visuals and others criticising the pacing and underdeveloped characters. Will Season 2 address these issues and deliver a more satisfying story?

Being an absolute fool for historical fiction that I am, the announcement of a period drama with a prominent female cast set in pre-Independence India had me dancing a little jig. The fact that this was the Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s labour of love was the icing on the cake, with the amazing cast being the cherry on the top. However, when Heeramandi hit our screens, it quickly became apparent that no amount of grandeur, powerful acting or even Aditi Rao Hydari’s mesmerising gaja gamini walk was going to be able to save the show.

Heeramandi draws inspiration from the lives of tawaifs in Lahore's famed red-light district, with its first season unfolding against the backdrop of India's struggle for independence. The ensemble cast featured talents such as Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditi Rao Hydari, Richa Chadda, among others.

Season 1 takes off on a high note, and does a fantastic job of capturing viewers in its web of opulence and beauty. It gets the set, costumes and choreographies right, but all these trappings that Bhansali employs to bring what he’d imagined to our screens turn out to be just, well, trappings.

Instead of being glued to my seat as I’d expected, I found myself just reluctantly sitting through the show, looking for any excuse to abandon my seat. To put it plainly — and it hurts my tonsils to even say this after eagerly waiting for the show for months — Heeramandi was kinda boring.

A few episodes in, it becomes increasingly obvious that Bhansali was more invested in the set design than a well-rounded screenplay.

As nice as the performances delivered by the cast was, there was way too much happening, making it hard to keep track of what was going on in spite of the pacing being sluggish. Plenty of subplots were created but barely any efforts were made to see them to the end — the same applying to character design as well. For instance, despite trying her best to make up for it with her acting, the character arc of Sanjeeda Sheik, who was playing Waheeda, was incomplete at best.

What was especially jarring was the fact that the tawaifs, who were each rather self-absorbed by their own tumultuous personal lives for most of the show, abruptly decided to bury all their hatchets in the final episode of the season for the sake of azadi.

The first season ended with the death of beloved characters like Bibbojaan and Nawab Tajdar. Heeramadi’s future hung in uncertainty as the Nawabs abandoned their patronage. Now, as viewers await the aftermath of these events, Sanjay Leela Bhansali hints that the new chapter will unfold with the tawaifs venturing into the worlds of Kolkata and Mumbai's film industries, trading their talents for new audiences.

And I can’t help but be just the slightest bit apprehensive about the upcoming season. If the writing and pacing felt haphazard after Sanjay Leela Bhansali dreamt of making Heeramandi for 20 years and spent another three years making it, I shudder to think how the next season — which seems like an afterthought — would turn out.

With a fresh plot on the horizon, audiences anticipate the introduction of new faces to enrich the narrative. The official teasers and trailers are yet to be released and the fate of surviving characters remains undisclosed, but it will be interesting to see if key actors will come back for Season 2. Viewers might be particularly curious to see if Mr Bhansali’s niece, Sharmin Segal, would return as Alamzeb after all the criticism thrown her way.

Will Mr Bhansali pull up his socks after all the criticism thrown his way or will Heeramandi Season 2 also rely on seasoned actors shouldering a choppy script? Only time will tell.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the reviewer and may be subjective in nature. They are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Business Insider India.

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