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Heeramandi Review: A Visually Stunning Period Drama with Flawed Plot

Heeramandi, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is a stunning work of art.  The lavish sets, with their elaborate detailing, take you back in time to a more regal time. The courtesans that rule this secret realm in exquisite clothes that are each works of art are just amazing. Alongside the on-screen drama, the soundtrack is equally fascinating, including soaring vocals and haunting melodies.

But the visual extravaganza isn't quite enough to cover up the plot's flaws. Although the first several episodes captivate you with its cunning power struggles and forbidden loves, one particular narrative point seems cliched and unoriginal. The characters don't have the depth that we've been accustomed to from Bhansali's works, especially the younger ones. Even though the climax was expertly shot, there's a sense of unfulfilled promise for a very epic narrative

Even with these shortcomings, Heeramandi has some value. There will be aspects to please fans of Bhansali's signature dramatization and heightened emotions.  The old-time actresses' performances especially are a saving grace.  Beyond the lavish exterior lies a degree of intrigue added by their representations of powerful, multifaceted women.

Heeramandi is a mixed bag all around. The show is a visually spectacular period drama with an engrossing atmosphere, but the plot is clumsy and the resolution seems forced.  You may be disappointed if historical accuracy is your goal. But Heeramandi is worth seeing if you want to lose yourself in an opulent universe and let the music and images take you there. Just don't expect a narrative as rich as its sets.

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