New Delhi: The first look of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Gangubai Kathiawadi is making waves on social media. Starring Alia Bhatt in the lead role, along with Ajay Devgn, it is set to release on September 11 this year.
The film, which will be Alia's first project with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is based on the real life of a mafia queen. Bhatt is garnering praises for her performance, and here's all you need to know about the real Gangubai.
The real woman behind the character
Gangubai Kathiawadi was an Indian criminal, don, sex worker, businesswoman; all in all, a controversial figure from Kathiawar, India. She operated a sex racket in the Hera Mandi red light district. She was a very influential figure in Mumbai through the 60s.
Ganga Harjeevan Das Kathiawadi was born in 1939 in Kathiawar. She came from a well-settled family, being the only girl child in her family. Thus she was pampered by her parents. She studied at a local government school of Gujarat and despite finishing her school education, she didn't study further.
Sold into prostitution
As per Hussain Zaidi's “Mafia Queens of Mumbai,” Gangubai Kathiawadi fell in love with her father's accountant and ran away with him to Mumbai at the age of 16. Kathiawadi is said to have been interested in acting and wanted to try her luck in films. But her life changed when her husband sold her for Rs 500 to a brothel, forcing her into prostitution.
Rise to power
Gangubai slowly rose to power through her links with the Mumbai underworld Karim Lala who operated liquor dens, gambling, and extortion rackets.
According to Hussain Zaidi's book, Gangubai was raped by a member of Karim Lala's gang. In order to seek justice, she went to Karim Lala and pleaded with him. Meanwhile, she tied a rakhi to Karim Lala and made him her brother as well. Soon after this, Karim Lala gave the command of Kamathipura area to his Rakhi sister Gangubai and she became one of the mafia queens. She rode in a black Bentley, the only brothel owner to have one in those times.
Advocate for rights of sex workers
Because of her personal ordeal, Gangubai was compassionate towards other women from the community. She used her influence to champion the rights of sex workers and their empowerment and affirmed that her job didn't authorise anyone to violate her. Reportedly, she even requested then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to address difficulties encountered by sex workers. Her attempts to better the living conditions in Kamathipura won her respect from the community.
Even today, the statue of Gangubai is installed in Kamathipura, Mumbai.
Check out the teaser of Gangubai's Kathiawadi!!