Bhansali’s ‘Heera Mandi’ triggers debate among Pak celebs

Heera Mandi deals with the red-light area of Lahore, Pakistan which is also known as ‘Shahi Mohalla’

Mumbai: After 13 years, Bollywood’s legendary filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali is all set to work on his dream project ‘Heera Mandi’ which will be a Netflix film. The movie deals with the red-light area of Lahore, Pakistan which is also known as ‘Shahi Mohalla’. It focuses on the women of that area especially the sex workers.

However, Pakistanis stars are upset over the project. They are even questioning their own industry that such stories should be narrated by Pakistani filmmakers.

Actor Ushna Shah too shared her thoughts on the web series and asserted that an Indian director should not be making a series based on a locality in Pakistan. She wrote, “It’s not his to make! It’s not theirs to make! This is so infuriating!”

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In a series of tweet, Ushan wrote, “Culture collaboration is one thing but this is appropriation. Mimicking ours will make the project lose authenticity! India has a plethora of rich cultures & history to film, this isn’t theirs to make!”

She further added: “This would be like a Pakistani director making a film about Mahabharata.”

Pakistani star, Mansha Pasha took to her Twitter and spoke about Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Heera Mandi being based in Lahore. She shared: “India is making a film on Lahore and the infamous Heeramandi of yesteryears. Because we live in a country where the fictional narrative is often censored and everyone keeps arguing about what is or isn’t “morally acceptable” fiction, others make most of the opportunity to taking up the stories that are native to our country – brand them and sell them to the rest of the world. In the end, what will be left will be our stories told from someone else’s mouth. Sad.”

Commenting on the same, actor and host Yasir Hussain said, “Heera Mandi is here in Lahore and the movie on this is being made by Indians. And then we will be criticising how Indians show false narratives. God knows when we will talk about such issues, when we will tell our stories.”

Model-actress Hira Tareen spoke about possible fatwa and said, “We don’t make movies on such issues because if we do, a fatwa will be issued and producers will lose their money. Do you really think PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Regulatory Authority) can tolerate a narration of the ‘real’ stories of Heera Mandi or any other such subject?” she asked.

Heera Mandi will be directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s assistant Vibhu Puri who has also written dialogues for Bhansali’s film Guzaarish starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. According to reports, the ambitious project of Bhansali will feature the most strongest and powerful actresses from Bollywood including Alia Bhatt, Madhuri Dixit, Deepika Padukone, Parineeti Chopra, Manisha Koirala, and Vidya Balan.

It will explore stories of courtesans, the hidden cultural reality of Heera Mandi in Lahore and is set to be a series about love, betrayal, succession and politics in the ‘kothas’.

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