Alamzeb In ‘Heeramandi’ Explained: Did She Kill Cartwright?


Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s highly anticipated TV drama Heeramandi finally graced our screens on May 1, 2024. The series boasts an excellent cast and everything else that follows an SLB production in a beautiful historical drama that’s well executed, even if it’s occasionally overdramatic. The 8-part series allows Bhansali to explore his favorite themes (literally all of them) in multiple parallel storylines. Of course, heartbreak seems to be his first love, which he’s always flirting with dangerously. Alamzeb’s story is also a disheartening lover’s tale that goes from the pink shades of puppy love to a bleak crimson-stained gray. Alamzeb is Heeramandi’s most notorious “tawaif’s” daughter. Mallikajaan, her mother, killed her own sister to become the queen of Shahi Mahal. The kids of Heeramandi never look forward to their destiny; their fate is sealed as soon as they’re born into the walls of the Diamond Bazaar. However, Alam dares to dream. I suppose it’s the freedom she gets as the beloved daughter of Mallikajaan that allows her to dream about a better life—a life away from that of a performer. But soon we realize Alam is no different from any other born on the soil of the Diamond Bazaar. 

Spoiler Alert

Somehow, Alam manages to write her escape after enchanting a rich nawab. Their love is pure, and without adultery, it’s fresher than anybody from the Shahi Mahal could imagine. Alam’s love Tajdar doesn’t know she’s Mallikajaan’s daughter, and he pursues her. However, Fareedan, Mallikajaan’s enemy and Alam’s cousin, deceives her into thinking that Tajdar is waiting for her to escape Heeramandi to marry him. When she gets to his doorstep, he shows a different side of himself, shunning her away for being a “tawaif,” but Alam hasn’t debuted, and she doesn’t plan on doing so. So, the only difference between her and a noblewoman from the streets of Lahore is where she comes from. It doesn’t take Alam long to convince Tajdar’s grandmother that she’s a wonderful girl and that she should stay with them. Alam hides in the Baloch house while her mother shuts down Shahi Mahal in search of her. However, when she finds out, Tajdar’s grandmother and his father do not approve of the relationship. 

Just like any doomed romance, Alam and Tajdar’s story becomes difficult at this point. While the “nawabs” love to visit the courtesans of the Diamond Bazaar, the thought of them stepping into their houses is too beneath them. Tajdar takes Alam away to his farmhouse, where they live together for some time. Tajdar carries out his duties as a revolutionary, and a week before their wedding, all hell breaks loose. Alam gets caught with all of the papers and a gun trying to escape the police, and Tajdar is left alone because he pretends she’s a mere mistress and nothing more. Alam’s whole life, she didn’t want to be a performer; however, it seemed fate had other plans for her. After her mother gets brutally abused by the British officer Cartwright and his filthy men, Alam is freed, but it seems she’s locked up in the shackles of misery. 

Many people have made sacrifices for Alam, and she finally decides she must sacrifice her love for those people. However, she learns she’s pregnant, and her older sister, Bibbo, decides to tell Tajdar about their child. Tajdar and his grandmother make their way to Heeramandi to ask for Alam’s hand in marriage in the most respectable manner. It seems Mallikajaan’s dreams will be botched for real, until Tajdar doesn’t show up on the night of the wedding. Alam ends up doing her “nat utrai,” aka making her debut as a courtesan, only to find out before she can finish her first “mujrah” that Tajdar has been killed by Cartwright. 

How Does Alam Kill Cartwright? 

With everything that Alam goes through because of Cartwright, she’s completely shocked when Ustaad offers her up for one night to the British man. What she’s too quick to think is that Ustaad will pimp her out in such a manner, when in reality he wants to help her avenge her family and the people of Heeramandi. Alam makes her way to Cartwright’s bedroom and shoots him in the chest. The show ends here, and we know that Alam got her revenge, but at what cost? 

Alam’s pregnant with Tajdar’s child, but will that child be able to see the light of day? The show never really gives us an answer to that. If one is optimistic, we can imagine that Alam manages to run away amidst the chaos of the riot in the streets. Maybe Ustaad had it all planned out, but in the circumstances of the situation, it doesn’t seem like the ideal outcome. Everyone suffers, and everyone does their best to fight for freedom. However, as we hear many times in the series, Lahore is a small city, and there’s a chance she’d get caught anyway. We could hope that Alam manages to live on and tell her child of their legacy—of how their father died and how the ladies of their family fought bravely in the revolution. We don’t really know exactly when the end of the show is set, but we can imagine it’s close to independence, so in that case, Alam could’ve been caught but still been freed soon after. 

The show ends with the bleak message that despite the freedom of the country, the courtesans of Heeramandi would struggle to hold their heads up high with dignity in a new world where the art of “tawaifs” is abolished. I suppose Alam, who would most probably be alone in this new world, would struggle with this too. Despite her not being a “tawaif,” she could never forget where she came from or the women who raised her. At least her child would be considered the child of a martyr. Maybe out of the many women in Heeramandi, Alam does actually end up changing her destiny by shooting Cartwright. 

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

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