The visionary filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s much-anticipated Netflix series, ‘Heeramandi’, has finally premiered, hitting screens today, May 1. However, few people know that this project has been on Bhansali’s mind for nearly two decades. Originally envisioned as a film, the story behind ‘Heeramandi’ has seen many changes over the years, both in concept and casting.

At a premiere event in Los Angeles, Bhansali spoke with Lilly Singh about his journey with ‘Heeramandi’, revealing that he first conceived the idea 18 years ago. The project was initially intended to be a film, with a star-studded cast that included Bollywood legend Rekha, along with Kareena Kapoor Khan and Rani Mukerji. As time passed, the casting changed several times. Bhansali mentioned that at one point, he envisioned Pakistani actors Mahira Khan, Fawad Khan, and Imran Abbas in key roles.

Despite these initial plans, the project underwent significant changes, ultimately transitioning from a film to a Netflix series. As Bhansali himself noted, the process of transforming ‘Heeramandi’ into what it is today required substantial dedication and flexibility from the cast and crew. He praised the final ensemble, who committed 350 days to filming the show, noting that this level of dedication would have been difficult for “popular actors.”

Imran Abbas, one of the original actors considered for ‘Heeramandi’, recently shared his experience on ARY Digital’s YouTube channel, explaining that he hadn’t declined the role, but the project was put on hold for some time. With these unexpected changes, it’s clear that the path to ‘Heeramandi’ was anything but straightforward.


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