Cartwright In ‘Heeramandi’ Explained: Is The British Officer Dead Or Alive?

Of all the characters that come along in the Netflix series Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar, the character of Alistair Cartwright, the new superintendent of police in Lahore, would make your heart rage and your blood boil. Every little act of his would only evoke disgust, making you sigh and say, “Not all men, but always a man” from your heart! The series is set around the year 1945, before India gained independence from British rule. Speaking out against the British was a big no-no back then. But some brave souls are willing to risk everything to free India from British control, even if it means sacrificing their love, family, or even themselves. Cartwright here is a real piece of work. He’s always ready to prey on the weak and helpless, crushing the dreams of those who dare to stand against him. He takes advantage of people left and right until he can’t anymore. So, what happens to him in the end? Well, let’s find out together!


Spoilers Ahead

How Did Cartwright and Mallikajaan Become Sworn Enemies? 

When Cartwright became the new superintendent of Lahore, he wanted to throw a grand party at his home to celebrate. He planned to invite one of the courtesans from Mallikajaan’s brothel to come and dance at his party. But Mallikajaan just laughed. You see, this brothel isn’t just any brothel; it’s for nawabs, where these courtesans are treated like queens. They don’t go to perform their mujra just anywhere; people have to come to them, especially since their Shahi Mahal is so prestigious. Cartwright, being a proud man, wasn’t having any of it. He couldn’t believe these so-called lowlife tawaifs had the audacity to say no to a police official like him. And those nawabs who gave them such pride, he despised them too. He knew they would meet again, and next time, he would surely take revenge for bruising  his male ego in front of a whole group of women. So, he decided to take information from Ustaad, Heeramandi’s pimp, to dig up dirt on Mallikajaan and bring her down.


Also when the time came, Cartwright forged a relationship with Fareedan, Mallikajaan’s rival, to manipulate her to his advantage. He knew Fareedan also wanted to bring down Mallikajaan. So, when Fareedan discovered that Mallikajaan’s daughter was going to marry Tajdar Baloch, a famous nawab known for his patriotism, she realized they might be hiding weapons for their rebellion against the British Raj. Tajdar was a patriot, after all. Cartwright saw this leak of information as an advantage. He struck a deal with Fareedan: he would help her take down Mallikajaan in exchange for the information. But little did she know that Taajdar was incredibly selfish; he only cared about himself. When Cartwright raided Taajdar’s house, he brought Alamzeb, Taajdar’s soon-to-be wife, to the police station for interrogation, intending to torment her and seek revenge. But what was his real intention? It was to humiliate her and all the courtesans of Heeramandi, breaking their false sense of pride and honor. When Tajdar denied knowing Alamzeb for the sake of his country, keeping his mission secret, Cartwright’s intentions of demolishing their honor were fulfilled. But it didn’t stop there. When Mallikajaan went to the police station to take Alamzeb away, pleading with Cartwright to let her go, he showed his true colors. He wasn’t one to let bygones be bygones. He was there for revenge in the most disgusting way possible. He offered to release Alamzeb in exchange for her allowing him and his four police officers to molest Mallikajaan. He hadn’t forgotten how she had thrown him out of the house, and now he was seeking revenge by breaking their spirits in the process.

Why Did Cartwright Kill Taajdar? 

Cartwright didn’t stop there. When Nawab Asfaq Baloch shared information that his son, Tajdar, was a nationalist fighting against British rule and therefore couldn’t marry the courtesan Alamzeb, Cartwright saw an opportunity. He exploited the tension between father and son to benefit himself. He took Taajdar to the police station to force him to reveal the names of his comrades. When Fareedan comes to stop this act and lure Cartwright so he can stop the torment, he dismisses her instantly, as if he doesn’t know her worth or as if she is so insignificant that her presence does not bother him. Tajdar didn’t reveal the truth, and until his last breath, he kept screaming “inquilab.” But Cartwright’s target wasn’t just the courtesans; he also wanted to put the Nawabs in their place. He wanted to show that they were mere puppets controlled by his power and manipulated as desired. So, along with Officer Henderson, Cartwright went to Nawab Asfaq and lied to him, claiming that his son had died at the hands of his nationalist comrades, manipulated into believing in false promises of freedom from British rule. With his young blood boiling, Tajdar met his fate, and Cartwright was not there at that time; otherwise, he would have stopped it from happening. Nawab had no choice but to believe Cartwright’s words, which show Cartwright’s manipulative nature and abuse of power.


What Did Cartwright Do With Bibbo?

Bibbo, another Heeramandi courtesan, was Mallikajaan’s daughter. But that wasn’t her only identity; she was a nationalist herself, just like Taajdar. With Hamid Sahab’s guidance, she dared to show her courage and prove herself a true patriot. She shot Officer Henderson in the process, but Cartwright retaliated by shooting Hamid Sahab then and there. Of course, Bibbo was taken into custody. She knew what awaited her —being gunned down by British officials. The entire Heeramandi stood for her courage, as she dared to challenge British rule and fight for freedom against officials like Cartwright, and her bravery was certainly commendable.

How Did Cartwright Die?

And what happened to Cartwright? Well, he was an awful human being. He humiliated the whole Heeramandi time after time, but this time, it was different. Alamzeb was here to seek revenge. While the whole Heeramandi stood for Bibbo’s martyrdom for the nation, Cartwright was there for his celebration of lust, willing to take advantage of Alamzeb. But little did he know, she was carrying a gun. The girl who had never harmed anyone in her life stood before the police official and shot him down to avenge her mother, sister, and husband. How ironic is that? Cartwright, who spent his life trying to bring down the courtesans of Heeramandi, was gunned down by a courtesan in the end. I won’t call it tragic; it was inevitable, and I’m glad it happened. But now, we can only imagine what will happen to Alamzeb. Maybe she’ll be gunned down like her sister Bibbo, but at least she has taken her revenge against this cruel official.


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sutanuka Banerjee
Sutanuka Banerjee
Sutanuka, a devoted movie enthusiast, embarked on her cinematic journey since childhood, captivated by the enchanting world of the Harry Potter series. This early passion ignited her love for movies, providing an escape into the magical realms of cinema. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in media science, combining her academic pursuits with her unwavering passion for the silver screen.

Latest articles