From Karim Lala’s Sister To Owning A Bentley, Here Is The Story Of Gangubai Kathiawadi


Critically-acclaimed filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s next Gangubai Kathiawadi, featuring Alia Bhatt in the lead, will open in theatres countrywide on July 30. The film has been adapted from one of the chapters of noted author Hussain Zaidi’s book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’. A teaser of the film was dropped on the occasion of Bhansali’s 58th birthday.

The one-minute-thirty-second-long teaser shows Bhatt in a never-seen-before avatar as she portrays an eponymous character in the flick. The teaser opens with a dialogue that says, “They say…nights in Kamathipura are always moonlit because Gangu lives there!”


The teaser is set in a theme where the 27-year-old named Gangubai Kothewali, a brothel owner and matriarch from Kathiawad who had no choice but to embrace the ways of destiny and swing it in her favour, transforms from a brothel queen to a politician.


Through the enthralling video, viewers are introduced to the character of Bhatt as ‘Gangu’ the boss woman. She looks promising, and it’s safe to say that her fans are in for a visual treat. Dressed in traditional sarees and sporting long hairstyles, the ‘Student of the Year’ actor has aced the look of a Gujarati woman with kohl-rimmed eyes and bold red bindi completing the look.

The teaser showcases Bhatt mouthing a catchy dialogue: “Live with dignity. Never fear anyone. Neither police, nor MLA, or minister or any bloody pimp…NOBODY!!” and the rising crescendo of a thrumming soundtrack.


The real story of Gangubai Kathiawadi as described by Hussain Zaidi

Gangubai was born into a family of lawyers, but was smitten by the glitz and glamour of Mumbai’s film industry aka Bollywood. She ran away from home with a clerk who worked for her father. However, upon reaching Mumbai, she was sold off for a sum of Rs 500. With no help at hand, she transformed herself into one of the most prized sex workers of Kamathipura, and having rich clients.

Rakhi sister of Karim Lala

Karim Lala was one of the three “mafia dons of Mumbai” alongside Mastan Mirza aka Haji Mastan and Varadarajan Mudaliar. He reigned the Maximum City from the sixties to the early eighties.

Gangubai was brutally raped by a gangster, leaving her invalid for days. She approached his boss, who incidentally happened to be Lala. She met him after his Friday prayers and shared her ordeal. Lala trashed her tormenter and warned against anyone harming his “rakhi sister.”


Owning a Bentley

Gangubai rose to power in no time and was known for wearing sarees with gold borders. According to the book, she once even owned a Bentley, which costs approximately around Rs 4 crore in today’s time.

Private audience with PM Nehru

Gangubai once took the stage at a women’s empowerment summit to stress on the need for prostitution belts in cities. Her speech headlined to an extent that it got her a private audience with Nehru.

He was so impressed by her desire to change the condition of red light areas that he questioned her why she chose this line of work when she could have easily found a nice husband. To this, Gangubai quipped, asking the PM if he would marry her. As the latter was left flustered, she continued, “It is very easy to preach but tough to practice.”


This part also reflects in the last bit of the teaser featuring Bhatt, where Gangubai says, “You all didn’t spare my innocence. Nor did you give me the respect of marriage.”

Despite being a “mafia queen,” Gangubai never kept a girl in the brothel against her consent. She also worked for the betterment of sex workers, their children, and orphans. Even today, Gangubai’s statue is installed in Kamathipura, Mumbai.

Source: Free Press Journal