Gangubai Kathiawadi Synopsis
The ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ is beautiful since it displays Gangu’s character growth and change throughout her life. A beautiful pleasure, but there’s still a lot more to Gangu’s narrative to tell.
Critic’s Rating: 3.5/5
Gangubai Kathiawadi Story
Gangubai Kathiawadi follows Ganga’s ascent to power and renown from a modest small-town girl in Gujarat to the uncontested queen of Kamathipura in Mumbai, based on S Hussain Zaidi and Jane Borges’ hard-hitting book Mafia Queens of Mumbai.
Gangubai Kathiawadi Review
A true, terrible, and dramatic scenario depicts women invitingly standing at the threshold of a kotha (brothel) in the busy bylanes of south Mumbai’s famed red-light district Kamathipura. Set entirely against this grim background of Mumbai, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ portrays the narrative of numerous young women who were auctioned off to brothels for a few hundred rupees, primarily through the eyes of its protagonist Gangubai (Alia Bhatt).
It’s somewhere in the early 1950s or 1960s when a starry-eyed and innocent Ganga is duped into eloping by her own boyfriend Ramnik (Varun Kapoor), who promises to pave the way for her to make it as a Bollywood actress.
Instead, Ganga (who later renames herself Gangu and then Gangubai) becomes the protagonist of Kamathipura. Kamathipura becomes her home over time, the brothel girls her family, and Kamathipura as a whole her realm. Her quest, however, is riddled with obstacles, adversaries, and a societal stigma that brings out the fighter in her.
The film’s charm resides in how it depicts Gangu’s character evolving through several periods of her life. The story takes its time to develop, even slowing down at times, but it does so without losing its punch thanks to some furious discussions and dramatic scenes.
It’s an Alia Bhatt show from start to finish, as she plays the boss-lady in a world of brothels and insatiable men. It may take some time to get used to the concept of Alia playing this role, and she, too, is taking her time. With tremendous confidence, daring, and a killer instinct, she delivers the heavily weighted lines. What’s unmistakable and weird about all of this is that Alia’s character’s physical appearance, always dressed in elegant whites, remains unaltered as the story progresses.
Even in a little part as Rahim Lala, Ajay Devgn makes an impression.
The rest of the supporting actors, including Seema Pahwa, Vijay Raaz, and Jim Sarbh, try their best, but there isn’t much chance for them to shine. Shantanu Maheshwari, who plays Gangu’s love interest, gives a strong performance, and the bittersweet scenes between Gangu and him are among the film’s highlights.
Bhansali’s story is structured like a book, with each obstacle and episode acting as a chapter. While the film has a lot of information — such as Gangu’s transformation into a feminist activist in Kamathipura, her interaction with the city’s underbelly, and her political ambitions – we are left wanting to learn more about the remainder of her life and how it all played out.
In Bhansali’s distinctive style — with a lot of delicacy and flare — there are some wonderfully produced, devastating moments, but the story does not go deep into any one element of Gangu’s life. The quality of the products is excellent. The film deftly pays tribute to the bygone period through the use of vintage movie posters and actor photos on the walls. Even as Gangu stands like a vision in white in the midst of it all, each song is beautifully and colorfully visualized. Apart from Dholida, none of the songs are very noteworthy.
This film, like every other Bhansali film, is a visual feast. The camera catches the gloomy lanes of Mumbai’s red-light district with opulence and plenty of shine.
Yes, the narrative brings to light some sad facts about our society and the lives of sex workers, as well as raising some hard-hitting and timely topics, but there is still much about her life that is unknown. The screenplay falls short here, relying on a few well-crafted emotional situations and heavy-duty conversations to keep you entertained for a while. However, the picture becomes too lengthy for its running time beyond a certain point.
If you’re looking for an inside look at Gangubai’s life as Mumbai’s Mafia Queen, you’ll be left wanting more. Even with everything packed into this drama, there are enough moments to lure you into this universe where the nights seem to go on forever and the lights never dim.