Entertainment

Gangubai Kathiawadi Movie Release & Hits Cinemas: ‘Alia Bhatt Is Marvelous As Gangubai’

Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ has been one of the most anticipated films to hit the big screen.

New Delhi: The Alia Bhatt-starrer ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ finally hit the theatres on February 25 after various delays and controversies. The film is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and is based on the story of Gangubai Harjivandas.

The film is said to be heavily influenced by a chapter in Hussain Zaidi’s book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’ — the title alludes to the character sketch of Gangubai, played by Alia Bhatt in the film.

The biography of Ganga Harjeevandas Kathiawadi is chronicled in Zaidi’s book in the chapter titled ‘The Matriarch of Kamathipura’. According to Zaidi’s portrayal of Ganga, she was raised in the Gujarat village of Kathiawad in a family of attorneys and educators with links to the Kathiawad royal line.

Her family was strict, but they encouraged their daughter to study, which was sort of rare in the 1940s even among the well-to-do people. Ganga, however, aspired to be a film actor in Mumbai.

She reportedly left her Kathiawad home in Gujarat to travel to Bombay (now Mumbai) with her lover, Ramnik Lal but was trafficked to a brothel for Rs 500. There, she climbed through the ranks to become the city’s most feared but awe-inspiring sex worker in the 1950s and 1960s, despite getting drawn into the criminal underworld, according to the book.

The book says Gangubai had been raped by a member of Karim Lala’s gang, and she had walked up to the mafia don to demand justice. Gangubai was soon started to be identified as Karim Lala’s sister, and she swiftly rose to prominence with the help of the don (played by Ajay Devgn in the film).

Her “shady business” thrived on the streets of Kamathipura, a Mumbai locality famous for flesh trade. The 16-year-old Ganga, who had come to Mumbai with dreams to become an actor, grew up to become Gangubai Kathiawadi, the ferocious woman who managed her own brothel.

While there isn’t much evidence of Gangubai Kathiawadi’s true story, Hussian Zaidi provides a thorough description in his book, ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’. His book says Gangubai was on excellent terms with don Karim Lala, who had vowed to protect her.

Gangubai is remembered for a speech she had delivered at Azad Maidan during a women’s convention. She had emphasized the vital function of sex workers in what we call civilized society. Her speech was well publicized at the time, which helped her gain an audience. She rescued hundreds of sex workers from financial ruin and tried to transform the public perception of their work.

Gangubai was allegedly involved in the drug trade and some cases of violence. The film, however, omits any violence, and drugs stand replaced with alcohol in the reel version. In the narrative of the film, Gangubai finally evolves from being a mafia queen into a revered Mother India figure, blessed by smiling sex workers all over Mumbai.

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