Gangubai Kathiawadi: 2021 Biographical Crime Drama

Gangubai Kathiawadi: 2022 Biopic Crime Drama

Movie Name: Gangubai Kathiawadi
Directed by:  Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Produced by:  Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Jayantilal Gada
Starring:  Alia Bhatt, Shantanu Maheshwari, Vijay Raaz, Indira Tiwari, Rohit Sukhwani, Seema Pahwa
Genre: CrimeDrama, Biography
Release Date: 25 February, 2022
Running Time:
154 Minutes

Gangubai Kathiawadi is an upcoming Indian Hindi-language biographical crime film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and based on a chapter of Hussain Zaidi’s book Mafia Queens of Mumbai about Gangubai Kothewali, the madam of a brothel in Kamathipura. The film stars Alia Bhatt as Gangubai, while Shantanu Maheshwari, Vijay Raaz, Indira Tiwari and Seema Pahwa play supporting roles, with special cameos by Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi and Huma Qureshi. It is scheduled for theatrical release on 25 February, 2022.

The film is about the life of Gangubai Kothewali, a young girl sold into prostitution by her boyfriend Ramnik Lal, and how she becomes the madam of a brothel in Kamathipura.

After Priyanka Chopra (who was almost locked for leading role) backed out due to date issues and Rani Mukerji declined the offer, it was officially announced in September 2019 that Alia Bhatt will be playing the main character in Gangubai Kathiawadi. Principal photography begun in Mumbai on 27 December 2019.

The film marks the Bollywood debut of television personality Shantanu Maheshwari, who portrays Gangubai’s boyfriend Ramnik Lal. Production was put on hold in March 2020 due to the lockdown ordered by the Indian government owing to the Chinese Virus COVID-19 pandemic, when the film was 70% complete. Bhatt resumed work on 6 October 2020, and Ajay Devgn who is playing a cameo joined sets on 27 February 2021.

The film is scheduled for release on 25 February, 2022.


The film was scheduled for release on 30 July 2021 but it was postponed due to the rising cases and second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was then scheduled for worldwide release in theaters on 6 January 2022, but to avoid clash with S. S. Rajamouli’s RRR, the release has been changed to 25 February. It will also have its world premiere at 72nd Berlin International Film Festival in Berlinale Special – Gala section, during the festival to be held from 10 to 20 February 2022.

Gangubai Kathiawadi Movie Trailer:

ये तो गं – गू है! SABLOKTANTRA

Gangubai Kathiawadi Movie Review:

Alia Bhatt shines in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s tale of pain and rage turned into victory

Alia Bhatt stars as a madame of a brothel who rises to power in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film.

There’s a scene in the trailer of Gangubai Kathiawadi where Alia Bhatt’s character is seen delivering a powerful ‘bhashan’ before a huge gathering. She’s advocating for sex work to be looked at with dignity as any other profession, and children of sex workers be given an equal right to education. In the film, it’s the pre-climax scene which pretty much nails in what the film is all about. It shows what this larger-than-life woman wants more than anything.

Based on the chapters from Hussain Zaidi’s book Mafia Queens of Mumbai, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi creates a world of its own that’s sleazy, violent, reckless but still overflowing with emotions. Showing the lanes of Kamathipura, one of the oldest red-light districts of Mumbai, Bhansali makes sure that he captures them in the most extravagant way. Young girls, who’ve landed here unwillingly, decorate the streets, having accepted their fate with nowhere to go.

The portions where these girls prepare for a day of work–applying lipstick, tapping loose powder on their faces–to be put up as live mannequins on the gates of the brothel inviting customers, carry a lot of pain. “Grahak ko tumhara chehra nahi chamdi chahiye,” says a heartless and uncouth Sheela Bai, played flawlessly by Seema Pahwa. In another scene, where a customer knocks at the brothel’s door at 4am in the morning asking for Gangu, Sheela Bai walks through the dark and dingy doom swapmed with girls sleeping on the floors or sharing small beds, to wake up Gangu saying, “iss dhande mein time nahi hota“– it captures the miseries of sex workers and the awful conditions they live in. It is from these moments you know that Bhansali is not just trying to celebrate the glory that Gangu creates but also show the gloomy past that she, and many other girls, have been through. There are times you feel that the Kamathipura shown in the film is a bit too exaggerated, but you overlook those for Bhansali instantly absorbs you into his world.

The film is clearly demarcated into two stories. While the first half narrates Gangubai’s story from being a barrister’s daughter Ganga who was forced into sex trade and how she becomes Gangu with her shares of bruises and scars, the second half shows her rise as a ‘gharwali’ (Madame of a brothel) and eventually fighting the elections to be the president of Kamathipura.

The entire flashback sequence into Ganga’s story was tragic yet terrific. Each frame here talks to you as if trying to say something that we often don’t want to accept. There are several silent moments in the first half and those, for me, are the most poetic rendition of emotions, empathy, pain and power. There are moments in the films that totally stand out and strike the right chord. A scene where a few girls are trying to write a letter to their families with everyone throwing a sentence each, forming a thought that they’ve been living with every single day. That is so heart-wrenching.

Alia Bhatt, who showed her acting prowess in Highway as her second film itself, has given a superlative performance as Gangubai. Yes, she does look a little too young at times for this roles but strong voice, the way she walks, the confidence she exudes from her smile, the pain she carries in her eyes — Alia puts together quite an impressive show. Her nearly perfect diction, dialect, expressions and how she emotes anger, rage, happiness and helplessness leave you in awe of her screen presence. I only wish there was a little less attempt from Bhansali to make Gangubai the goddess-like figure or the Robinhood she ends up being at most of the places.

There’s Ajay Devgn in a cameo as Raheem Lala who turns messiah for Gangu and packs a punch in a couple of scenes he appears on screen. Shantanu Maheshwari brings a childlike flair with his character Afsaan with his brief romance with Gangu. Reuniting with Bhansali after Padmaavat, actor Jim Sarbh also delivers a decent performance as a journalist who, in a way, acts as a catalyst in letting Gangu discover her strength and what she’s capable of. Going by what’s shown in the film, it was he who facilitates Gangu’s meeting with the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for a cause she deeply felt for. Vijay Raaz as Razia Bai has a short and sweet part and honestly doesn’t have much to do other than what we already saw in the trailer. There’s a very interesting track between Alia’s Gangu and Kamli played by Indira Tiwari, who was spectacular in Serious Men. Their friendship and bonding in a brothel is not an everyday sight.

Binding all these characters together, Bhansali’s film can’t be complete without some beautifully choreographed and aesthetically shot musical pieces. Meri Jaan and Jab Saiyaan are soft romantic tracks while Dholida and Jhume Re Gori let you groove to some peppy folk beats.

Gangubai Kathiawadi ends with the transformation of a damsel in distress to a warrior. But then, there’s no denying the fact that such stories do exist and deserve to be told.

Movie Songs:

Song Title: Dholida
Lyrics: Kumaar, Bhojak Ashok Anjam
Music Composer: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Singer(s): Janhvi Shrimankar, Shail Hada

Song Title: Meri Jaan
Lyrics: Kumaar
Music Composer: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Singer(s): Neeti Mohan

Song Title: Jab Saiyaan
Lyrics: A. M. Turaz
Music Composer: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Singer(s): Shreya Ghoshal

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