Gangubai Kathiawadi is an upcoming Indian Hindi-language biographical crime film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Movie is based on a chapter of Hussain Zaidi’s book Mafia Queens of Mumbai about Gangubai Kothewali, the madam of a brothel in Kamathipura.
Kathiawadi’s life has been chronicled in a chapter devoted to her, in the book Mafia Queens of Mumbai, penned by best-selling novelist and retired investigative reporter S Hussain Zaidi.
Gangubai Kathiawadi is in hot water. The film traces the journey of a madam of a brothel in Kamathipura by the same name.
Gangubai’s son Babuji Rawji Shah registered a case against the filmmaker, Alia Bhatt, who plays the titular role, and Bhansali Productions.
Babuji has alleged that certain portions of The Mafia Queens of Mumbai are defamatory and an infringement upon his right to privacy, self-respect and liberty. He wanted the permanent cessation of printing and circulation of the book, deletion of chapters pertaining to Gangubai’s life and stoppage of production of the film
Gangubai Kathiawadi was an Indian criminal, don, sex worker, businesswoman; 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. A young Ganga from Kathiwad, in the state of Gujarat, hailed from a family of lawyers but was captivated by Mumbai’s movie industry.
She was the only girl child in her family. Thus she was pampered by her parents. She studied a local government school of Gujarat and despite finishing her school education she didn’t study further.
Gangubai 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.
After weeks of crying, the young girl who was aware that she now had nowhere else to go, decided to stay back. Soon, she became one of the most-prized prostitutes known for her gab and her knack of making many Seths open their purse strings.
Journalist Hussain Zaidi’s book on Mafia Queens of Mumbai portrayed Gangubai as a woman of spirit and not a victim of circumstance. When a Pathan raped her brutally leaving her invalid for days, she decided to accost his boss after his Friday prayers. The boss was none other than mafia don Karim Lala.
Gangubai slowly rose to power through her links with the Mumbai underworld. She maintained and operated many brothels in the red light district of the city, ultimately earning herself the name, ‘Madam of Kamathipura’. She rode in a black Bentley, the only brothel owner to have one in those times.
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.