Bibbojaan In ‘Heeramandi’ Explained: What Does Her Sacrifice Mean?


Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Heeramandi may have divided audiences, but it’s still got everyone’s attention. The historical drama takes some important moments from history but creates a completely fictional world around “Heeramandi,” or the Diamond Bazaar of Lahore. It’s got all the drama you need and more, and, of course, the most beautiful costumes to ever grace our small screens. The show tells the story of the “tawaifs” of Lahore. But it isn’t simply a story about their existence, it’s about the turmoil they faced at the time of independence. Between Bibbo and Alam, Mallika always had a deeper love for her youngest, who was seen as the next queen of Shahi Mahal. And Bibbo was always overlooked as the sober older one who could never stand tall in making a decision of her own. On the face of it, we are meant to see Bibbo as a delicate darling, a simple “tawaif,” who makes the most of her performance, grace, and beauty, but being the most beautiful woman in town, she knows exactly how to weaponize that same beauty. At the beginning of the show, Bibbo looks almost naive. A woman in love who will settle for anything less; however, she’s actually the most skilled of the Heeramandi women. Also, the most ambitious. 

Bibbo is a stunning courtesan. She’s got everything Mallika needs in a woman who works under her. However, Bibbo secretly shares the information she learns from Wali, her nawab, an unknowing lover. Bibbo is quite impressive because not even her sister knows that she’s secretly working with revolutionaries and giving them important information that nobody else can. However, for terribly selfish reasons, Bibbo’s mother decides to have her retire much earlier than she was supposed to, but, Bibbo is strong. She never wavers in her determination in the fight for independence. I guess, to her, it’s more like not only the country’s independence but the freedom she’s been dreaming of in her life as well. It really doesn’t matter what Bibbo’s motivations were; at the end of the day, she definitely cared for the country and was willing to risk her life for it even before nawabs like Tajdar were. 

After her final performance, Wali leaves Bibbo for Fareedan, who wants him only as part of her revenge plan. However, she doesn’t know that Bibbo isn’t really in love with him; she is only using him to get the information she needs. I suppose the relationship between Bibbo and Wali was more than just master and courtesan; however, the way everyone believes Bibbo is in awe of him is simply part of her wonderful act to keep information close to her. Bibbo is also a wonderful sister. She always helps Alam with whatever she wants. She’s not just her confidante, but she is the big sister any woman in Heeramandi deserves. 

When Wali leaves Bibbo, she resorts to a new tactic for information. She makes her way into a British officer’s heart. Bibbo already has him in her grasp during a party at the Baloches. However, she tightens her grip when her aunt Waheedan tries to make the officer her own by performing for him. It’s not like Bibbo and Waheedan have any kind of animosity. I guess it’s simply a show to make the officer feel like he’s wanted by more women. She also never openly tells Waheedan what she’s actually doing because Waheedan wouldn’t have understood. She’s the character who gets stepped on the most in the show. Sister, niece, or daughter—it seems no one really likes Waheedan, but she’s never actually done anything terrible. 

After Bibbo has the British officer under her heel, she visits him at work and learns about the container with the ammunition. The officers don’t even bother hiding information in front of her because what could a silly old nautch girl do? However, it’s a big price to pay. Bibbo manages to get the information to Hamid and the revolutionaries, but there’s a trap there, and things get quite messy, but Bibbo never gives up. 

When things get tough for the rebels, she takes them to Shahi Mahal. This is when they have no other option, and by this time, most of the Heeramandi dwellers know what Bibbo is doing. Mallika openly invites the revolutionaries over and treats them like guests only, thanks to Bibbo. In the final episode of Heeramandi, after Tajadar is killed in prison, Bibbo decides she will take the gun in her own hands. As an unassuming woman, Bibbo’s beauty and intelligence always keep her ahead of the game. She attempts to make all the women of “Heeramandi” stand up against the British Raj and show them what the queens of Lahore are capable of. After this, she takes the gun to Henderson’s gathering, where he plans on arresting the imperial officers. Of course, she’s been invited by him, so she walks in like a queen and shoots him with no fear right in the chest. Hamid tries to save her and run; however, he gets shot, and she gets caught by the officers. 

Ultimately, it’s for Bibbo that the women of Heeramandi gather together. She’s a true martyr because an entire revolution begins, so she knows she’s not alone anymore. When she’s taken to the gallows, the women all gather and do a march. Just like Lajjo, Bibbo finally finds her freedom in death, a true free bird who can’t be touched or enslaved by anybody. Despite Bibbo’s meek, soft-spoken nature, she was always strong-willed and determined to get freedom. Bibbo made her mother proud by the end of the series, and because of her, the internal conflicts of Heeramandi are long forgotten for more important things. Bibbo may have died that day for killing an imperial officer, but she managed to awaken the spirits of many who never knew the determination they had in them. 

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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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