Gangubai Kathiawadi: Who was the woman Alia Bhatt will play in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film? | Bollywood - Hindustan Times

Gangubai Kathiawadi: Who was the woman Alia Bhatt will play in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film?

Feb 24, 2021 01:50 PM IST

Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Alia Bhatt's Gangubai Kathiawadi is among the most anticipated Bollywood films this year. Ahead of teaser release, here's knowing who the real woman was.

Alia Bhatt will soon be seen in the titular role of Gangubai Kathiawadi in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's next. The movie is based on the life of one of the famous madams from brothels in Mumbai's infamous red light area, Kamathipura. The first teaser of the film will be released on Wednesday. Ahead of that, here's getting to know who this woman was.

Gangubai Kathiawadi stars Alia Bhatt in the lead role.
Gangubai Kathiawadi stars Alia Bhatt in the lead role.

Gangubai Kothewali, as she was known in her heydays in the 1960s, was owner of many brothels in Kamathipura. She wielded immense power and influence, owing to her contacts in the underworld. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has used a chapter from Hussain Zaidi's book Mafia Queens of Mumbai on her life for his film.

Gangubai of Kathiawad

Gangubai was born in Kathiawad, Gujarat, into a family of lawyers. She was, however, enamoured by the world of Mumbai's movie industry. She ran away from home with one of her father's clerk. Reaching Mumbai, she found the reality to be very different - her lover sold her off in Kamathipura for a sum of 500.

After crying for weeks and with no help at hand, she decided to stay back. In time, her fame grew and she became one of the most prized sex workers of Kamathipura, with a knack of making rich clients relent. From being a victim of cruel circumstances, she transformed into a spirited woman with a mind of her own.

Rakhi brother Karim Lala

Life was to take an unexpected turn when she would meet one of the most dreaded gangsters of the 1960s, Karim Lala. Karim formed a triumvirate with Haji Mastan and Varadarajan, who dominated the underworld in that era.

It so happened that Gangubai was brutally raped by a gangster. The incident left her invalid for days. It was then that she decided to take matters into her own hands and accost his boss, none other than Karim Lala himself, after Friday prayers.

Not only did Karim thrash her tormentor, he warned against anyone harming his 'rakhi sister'. Post that, her rise to the top was meteoric.

Of gold-bordered saris and Bentley

Gangubai soon rose to become one of the undisputed queens of Kamathipura. At the height of her power, her earning too was staggering amid the bylanes of Mumbai's brothel district. She was well-known for her saris with gold borders and sari blouses with gold buttons. At one time, she even owned a Bentley car.

Meeting with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Towards the later part of her life, she also become an advocate of rights of women who were sold into prostitution. Reportedly, her photos still adorns the walls of many brothels in the area. On one such an occasion, she had met PM Nehru, who had been impressed by her wit and had even approved of her proposal to protect red light areas.

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