Gangubai Kathiawadi is a biographical crime film which will be Alia Bhatt’s first project with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The film is based on the real-life of a famous brothel owner and matriarch mafia queen “Gangubai”.
Gangubai Kathiawadi’s life has been chronicled in a chapter devoted to her, in the book “Mafia Queens of Mumbai”, written by the best-selling novelist S Hussain Zaidi.
While the most awaited Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Gangubai Kathiawadi’s teaser has been making rounds on social media, it has also created anxiety among the fans about the real story behind Gangubai Kathiawadi.
Who is Gangubai?
The real name of Gangubai was Ganga Harjivandas Kathiawadi. Born into a prestigious family of lawyers and teachers in Kathiawar in Gujarat, in 1939, she aspired to become an actress in childhood.
She fell in love with her father’s accountant, Ramnik Laal at the age of 16 and left her family for her husband. She fled to Mumbai with the hope of starting a new life with her husband, but her life turned upside down when she was deceived and sold to a brothel by him for Rs. 500. She had no choice but to embrace the ways of destiny and swing it in her favor.
The Sister of Don
She started as a sex worker in Kamathipura. Being violently abused by a member of mafia don Karim Lala, she sought her revenge by reporting to Karim Lala and demanded justice for her. She eventually became the sister of Karim Lala by tying him a rakhi and securing her safety.
She soon became one of the most well-paid commercial sex workers and was the most feared and respected sex worker in Kamathipura, Mumbai.
Madam of Kamathipura
She began to develop strong ties with the Mumbai underworld under the influence of the don, Karim Lala, and came to be known as the “Madam of Kamathipura” for being an influential pimp in the city with connections with criminals, peddling drugs, and murders.
At a young age, she won the local gharwali elections held to determine ranks among the sex workers of Kamathipura and called herself “Gangubai Kathewali”, a corruption of the word kothewali. The steps taken by Gangubai for the improvement of the sex workers community made her ‘The queen of Kamathipura.’
She was the only brothel owner to own a black Bentley during those times.
An Advocate of Sex Workers Rights
Gangubai Kathiawadi is a truly empowered woman and fought for the recognition of sex workers. Gangubai, herself being a victim of the prostitution trade, was known to be compassionate towards other women and used her influence for the empowerment of sex workers and advocated for their rights.
Despite being a brothel owner, she cared for sex workers like a mother. She was an ardent supporter of her fellow females in the business and never forced any girl into prostitution without their consent.
“Gangubai was known as the only brothel madam who gave importance to women but not business or money.”
She maintained and operated many brothels in the red-light district of the city and earned the title President of Kamathipura. She was the first woman to open a franchise of brothels and different cities of the country.
She even approached Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to discuss the difficulties encountered by sex workers in India.
Even today, the statue of Gangubai is set up in Kamathipura and her pictures still can be seen on the walls of Kamathipura.
With Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgan starring in the lead roles, the film is ready to hit the theatres on 30 July 2021.