Heeramandi – A Netflix series

Netflix Indian Punjabi programmes top picks from Pure Punjabi

Heeramandi: The Diamond bazaar, is a 2024 lavish period drama from renowned Indian director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

This Netflix series is the latest film production we have been watching and throroughly enjoyed, and so wanted to give an overview of this for anyone interested in exploring Indian film and TV.

It is set during the time of partition… in the lead up to the tension, danger and outbreaks that occurred as the violence of partition was taking place, and their way of life was about to be lost.

The series follows the elite courtesans of Lahore – The capital of pre-partition Punjabi – (now in modern-day Pakistan) as they lived and worked during the fight for independence from British rule in the 1940s. Think incredible clothing, intricate set designs and heart-wrenching love stories!

Heera Mandi is a neighbourhood and bazaar located in the Walled City of Lahore. It is specifically known as the red light district of Lahore, Pakistan.

The aesthetics of this series are extravagant, with stunning clothing, jewellery and elaborate backdrops to the song & dance.  However, underlying the glamour, are serious social issues of deception, murder, illegitimacy, child abduction, betrayal…all ignited by the fact that all these occurrences are taking place during a time of political turmoil, civil unrest and uprising.

The courtesans of Lahore, (called “Tawaifs”),  were classically trained perfomers, recognised for their skills, as not only beautiful singers and highly trained classical dancers, but as astute business women who were politically connected.

The access that these courtesans had to high ranking men, of all nationalities, meant that they were in a prime position to influence and take advantage of their power, to consolidate their position.

They would entertain the ‘Nawabs’ (powerful Princes/Sovereign rulers), as well as court the favour of high ranking British officers who were stationed in Punjab.

There is a short trailer on YouTube

The Plot

Here’s an overview to understanding the plot (as the first episode is quite fast paced)…

There are three sisters…Rehana, Mallika and Waheeda.

The eldest sister, Rehana, is the head courtesan/madam. The first episode opens with Rehana selling the child of Mallika (all done behind Mallika’s back), and herein start the lies and deception.

The story then jumps into the future when Mallika has two daughters, and the youngest sister Waheeda has one daughter, however the child of the late Rehana has survived!

We see how the Tawaifs have access to both the British and Lahori men who are dictating the political climate,

The Family tree of the sisters and their daughters…

Rehana  (eldest sister)

Fareedan (Rehana’s only daughter)

Mallika (Middle sister)

Bibbo (Mallika’s eldest daughter)

Alamzeb (Mallika’s youngest daughter)

Waheeda (Youngest sister)

Shama (Waheeda’s only daughter)


Our family come from District Jalandhar, so as Sikhs, they were living on the ‘right’ side of divided Punjab. (Note – the correct spelling is actually Panjab. Many people including us, for our business name, choose to use the British spelling of Punjab, so that it would be prounounced correctly, as the letter ‘a’ is pronounced as a ‘u’). Within our own community we would write Panjab.

Partition is a topic that is not taught in school history, and seldom covered in the media.  In 2017, on the 70th anniversary of partition, (1947, the same year as the disastrous attempts of the Palestine/Israel partition), the BBC ran a 6 part series with the stories and recollections from all religious perspectives. Episodes can be found HERE

There’s a reason that only Safia teaches the political and religious backdrop to our Indian Experience cookery workshop day, and not myself.

We are both children of two cultures, however for myself, as a first generation child of immigrants, having heard first-hand some of the the stories and the pain of partition from my mother, the stories are too near and the recollections of my then 15year old mother, too painful.

Safia as a child of the second generation, with 50% Punjabi Indian/50% British blood, is better placed to deliver the delicate and conflicting content of partition and the exit of British rule over India.

Safia and I binge watched this series and thoroughly enjoyed it for what it is, storytelling and entertainment with beautiful clothing, jewellery and interior design sets.

The series showcases a culture and lifestyle from a bygone era, and of course portrays the the painful history and politics of the time of pre-partition Punjab India.

As will be seen in the last two episodes of the series, with the portrayal of the actions of British soldiers, it should be remembered that education and knowledge, awareness and understanding are what matters, and never the apportioning of blame or the mistakes of a past generation on the current one.

As Safia says, before she talks about this era in our workshop, we do not do this to be inflammatory, as it is a sensitive topic, but merely to be aware of what lays the foundations to the connection between Britain and India/Pakistan…

…and it explains why Indian food came to Britain and is now so integrated into British society as well as being the most popular food in Britain 🙂

Watch the YouTube trailer HERE

Surinder Hothi & Safia Hothi-Bellamy of Pure Punjabi Indian cookery school, meal kits and events, Somerset UK

Customer Reviews

Indian Meal kits, Dinner Kits & Gift Boxes

Customer Reviews

Karen Taylor October 2018

We are having such fun cooking from The Spice Pack Collection and all the dishes have come out brilliantly. The smell is divine and Rob, who is very fussy, is particularly impressed. All our visitors are wowed when they smell the box – we’ve been too possessive to share any with others, as yet!

As a natural therapist I particularly appreciate the healthy aspect of each dish, none of which compromise on taste. Good ingredients freshly cooked makes a big difference.

We’re going on holiday with three other couples in a couple of weeks and going to take the pack with us to cook some dishes together.

Maria M / BBQ Meal Kit Box customer

“We had a BBQ for family and friends few weeks ago and we made the Lamb Kebabs & Coconut & Sesame Chutney and Crushed Tikka New Potatoes & Mango Chicken… We received such rave reviews!! All so easy to make with the spices and sauces all provided for us…food was all delicious!”

Chris & Debs - dinner kit with cook-along customer

“That was so fun…

Thank you for the zoom meet up. That was so fun. We will definitely be up for another. Please send another suitable invite and kit. We are predominately veggies so used the butternut squash version. If this continue the local takeaway will suffer for sure. Again thanks”.

Carol R. dinner kit with cook-along customer

“What a wonderful cookalong…

…The Mango Chicken was delicious and my naan bread actually looked amazing – like the real thing. I feel so successful. Thank you. Looking forward to our next cookalong”.

Pam Brown – dinner kit with cook-along customer

“Thank you so much both…

– the class was amazing and we both really enjoyed the food. It makes so much difference knowing exactly how to do things and that we can make such tasty food which is gluten free. Jeera rice has always been my favourite but many restaurants don’t have it on the menu”.

Sylvia M – dinner kit with cook-along customer

“Thank you so much...
... for a great hour of cooking on Saturday evening. I enjoyed it very much as I have never done anything like it before. The Punjabi chicken was delicious and we had enough to freeze for another time”.

Sue W – dinner kit with cook-along customer

“Well that was amazing…
... the best curry I've ever had and Jxx said it was like being in India ( as he’s spent so much time there with work ) loved the class and so did Exxx looking forward to coming to your workshops…
…and will order some more kits from your website”

Roy P…dinner kit with cook-along customer

“Many thanks…
...for the cook–along workshop yesterday. It was very enjoyable and the meal tasted lovely. As someone who is not a confident cook it was ideal to follow your teaching. I have recommended this to a friend of mine who is very interested in joining the next cook–along. I will definitely be doing it again”.

Ellie Pipe

I highly recommend this lovely family run local company…

... We’ve enjoyed 2 of their meal kits now along with an online cook along to show us what to do. Thank you.

Diane McGillivray

I love them all and would highly recommend…

...If I had to choose one it would be the Mango chicken.