Enjoyable throughout thanks to the great choral cast, the sublime music and the colorful and gentle on the eye cinematography. The take on its subject is impressively nuanced and modern. A few scenes could have been cut down a bit, and in some others there was a tad too much screaming for my ears; overall, the duration is my only drawback. At times it reminded me of Kawashima's Bakumatsu taiyôden, in a good way.
Oh my god! What don't I love about this film!! The sensitive gaze on sex-workers, and women in general is much ahead of its time. You can make the same movie today changing nothing and it would still work. I loved the cast (just perfect across the board) and cinematography. The colours, the costumes, the sets, the 1980s Hyderabad with its Dakhani Urdu - everything comes together so beautifully.
A non-creepy film about brothel life feels like a rarity, let alone one as complex, funny, raw, sprawling, and visually stunning as Mandi. I don't know why it took me so long to start watching Shyam Benegal films, considering he seems to consistently cast tons of my favourite character actors - Mandi being no exception here. So good!