When will we tell our own stories, asks Yasir Hussain as Bollywood announces series on Lahore's Heera Mandi
Indian director Sanjay Leela Bhansali is making a series on Lahore's infamous Heera Mandi for Netflix, it has been announced. The news may have created a stir in Bollywood, but for many Pakistani artists, it's a reminder of how we ignore our own stories.
Heera Mandi is a historical red-light district near the Lahore Fort. The district, whose name translates as “Diamond Market”, is close to the Badshahi Mosque.
During the Mughal era, Heera Mandi was a centre for mujra, traditional singing and dancing performed for the elites.
The tagline for the film, titled Heeramandi, is "where courtesans were queens". Bhansali, the brains behind Ram Leela, is known for the vibrant imagery and intricate details of his films and there is no doubt that the series will be visually appealing.
"This is in Lahore and the movie is being made by Indians," wrote actor Yasir Hussain in his Instagram Stories.
"Then we’ll say everything was portrayed incorrectly. I don’t know when we’ll talk about our own things, when we’ll tell our own stories," he wrote. It's easy to understand his frustration. There are so many stories to tell in Pakistan but more often than not, our entertainment industry focuses on stories that have already been told ad nauseam.