Bollywood Movies

Must-Watch Bollywood Movies on OTT That Portray the Lives of Courtesans

May 28, 20242 Mins Read

Must-Watch Bollywood Movies on OTT That Portray the Lives of Courtesans
Heeramandi, a new series on Netflix, is everything one might hope for. It is a pleasure to witness Sanjay Leela Bhansali depict the heyday of Indian courtesans in his distinct manner. A stellar cast, including Manisha Koirala, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sharmin Segal, Richa Chadha, Sanjeeda Shaikh, and Sonakshi Sinha, chronicles the lives of courtesans in the pre-independence era in “Heeramandi,” which is set against the backdrop of the 1940s. For those who don’t know, this isn’t the first time Bollywood has depicted the lives of courtesans. In case “Heeramandi’s” charm has left you yearning for more, discover three other Hindi films that portray the lives of courtesans here.

Also Read: Four Korean Comedy Dramas Available For OTT Streaming


Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s outstanding representation of a courtesan has previously worked its charm on screen. “Devdas” (2002) is still regarded as one of his best and most beloved pieces to date. While Shah Rukh Khan’s and Aishwarya Rai’s love story of Dev and Paro is the main focus, the director did a good job of bringing Madhuri Dixit’s character Chandramukhi—a courtesan who falls in love with Dev—to light. Even though Chandramukhi was a supporting role, her performance left us all in awe of her strength and selflessness.

Where to watch: Watch with Eros Now Subscription on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube


Meena Kumari’s portrayal of Sahibjaan in the 1972 film “Pakeezah” stands out among Bollywood movies inspired by the lives of courtesans. Sahibjaan fights to escape the prostitution trade in the Amazon Prime Video film, but she eventually falls in love with Salim, a young forest ranger. Regrettably, his affluent parents oppose the union.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

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Umrao Jaan

Rekha raised the bar for courtesan characters in Bollywood with her 1981 film “Umrao Jaan.” Rekha plays a little girl in the movie who is sold to a brothel and grows up to be a well-known poet. Rekha made us all fall in love with her after singing “Dil Cheez Kya Hai” and performing “Aankhon Ki Masti.”

Where to watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime Video

These films, available on various OTT platforms, continue to captivate audiences with their poignant and powerful stories of courtesans.

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