With a INR2 billion budget, here's how much each 'Heeramandi' cast member got paid

Millions earned by stellar cast for their performances in the talk-of-the-town show 

Entertainment Desk May 10, 2024

By now, anyone familiar with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar, with its grand sets and lavish costumes, will appreciate that the budget allocated to the production far exceeded expectations. The Netflix show is one of India’s most expensive series ever to be produced, not only due to its elaborate set design but also because of the salary commanded by the extensive lead cast. 

According to Hindustan Times, the budget for the project totalled up to a staggering INR2 billion, out of which director and filmmaker Bhansali earned a substantial INR600 million to INR700 million. The publication quoted the salaries of the cast from a report published by Money Control, albeit was unable to verify the figures independently. 

Heading the salaries of the cast, lead actor Sonakshi Sinha commanded the highest fees for playing the double role of Rehana and Fareedan, earning a whopping INR20 million. In a recent interview, Sinha defended the inaccuracies in the show picked apart by discerning viewers, claiming that Bhansali had “never set out to deliver a history lesson.” 

Coming in second after Sinha was actor Aditi Rao Hydari. The publication listed Hydari’s earnings as somewhere between INR10 million and INR15 million. Hydari played the role of Bibbojaan, Mallikajaan's elder daughter. Next in the salary table was Manisha Koirala, charging INR10 million for essaying courtesan and matriarch Mallikajaan in the epic drama series. 

Tying with Koirala was Richa Chadha, who also earned INR10 million for her portrayal of Lajjo, Mallikajaan's foster daughter. Meanwhile, Fardeen Khan, who staged his comeback as Wali, charged INR7.5 million for his role in the web series. 

On a slightly lower – but still enormous – scale was Sanjeeda Sheikh, who earned INR4 million for playing the role of Waheeda. In the same fashion, Sharmin Segal – who is also Bhansali’s niece – pulled in INR3 million for her portrayal of Alamzeb, Mallikajaan’s younger daughter. 

Despite a budget unlike any other, the acclaimed Heeramandi has not been immune to criticism. Although many have been wowed by Bhansali’s depiction of grandeur and glamour, weary and eagle-eyed viewers have taken to social media since the show’s release to air their grievances. 

Amongst the criticism levelled at the show has been the Urdu pronunciation of the characters. As one disgruntled commenter noted on the popular microblogging platform X, “For a limited series produced on a lavish budget, with a crew of over 100 people, Bhansali could've done better in Urdu diction.” 

As well as the mispronunciation of Urdu words, the historically inaccurate portrayal of Lahore’s red-light district was also immediately pulled apart by critical audiences, as Sinha discovered to her chagrin. “I mean either you don’t set your story in 1940’s Lahore, or if you do - you don’t set it in Agra’s landscape, Delhi’s Urdu, Lakhnavi dresses and 1840’s vibe,” lamented one unimpressed viewer. “My not-so-sorry Lahori self can’t really let it go.”

Prior to the highly anticipated release of the series, much had been made of the magnificent costumes and elaborate sets. Bhansali had given interviews where he explained how the show had been decades in the making and described the painstaking labour involved in constructing his world. However, while the show may have been a visual feast, the excess of glamour left a sour taste in the mouths of some viewers. “Just wish the director had not overindulged and got carried away by his reputation for grandeur,” wrote one commenter.  

However viewers may feel about Heeramandi, there can be little doubt that the series has been a financial boon for the cast involved. 

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