Alia excels but Gangubai's family still unhappy

Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film Gangubai Kathiawadi, which releases in theatres today, had a screening at the Berlin Film Festival last Thursday.

The first reviews that came out indicated that actress Alia Bhatt has put up a sterling performance.

Gangubai Kathiawadi tells the tale of a young girl named Ganga who becomes Gangubai, a brothel keeper in the red light area of Kamathipura in Mumbai. It is loosely based on the true story of Gangubai Harjivandas, popularly known as Gangubai Kothewali, whose life was documented in the book Mafia Queens of Mumbai by S. Hussain Zaidi.

Critic Prathap Nair, in his review published in First Post, lauded Alia for her portrayal of Gangubai.

Right from a promising young woman being forced to prostitution to becoming the brothel madam turned gangster, Alia seems to have done justice to Gangubai's character with her acting prowess, he noted.

Other supporting cast - Indira Tiwari, Shantanu Maheshwari, Seema Pahwa - also shine to bring out a meaning narrative.

The character of Vijay Raaz as Raziabhai was mentioned as underdeveloped with less clarity on her background and current affairs.

Sudeep Chatterjee's camerawork was given a special mention.

Apparently, the film is a visual treat on the big screen. It also brings back Bhansali's trademark detailing of larger-than-life sets.

Pratap also wrote that Bhansali has shown a polished narrative of Gangubai's life and that the movie will keep the audience entertained with its extraordinary screen drama.

Those who got a chance to watch Gangubai Kathiawadi in Berlin also posted their impressions on Twitter.

@adoreames tweeted: "Alia has undoubtedly given the best performance of her career. No flaws detected! She has put her heart and soul into this film and it clearly shows. I"m still in awe of her voice modulation and dialogue delivery."

Another twitter user Shreenivas @rsparam said: "You (Alia) were impeccable in the film! The strength beyond the pain that you portrayed through minimal words spoke to us and I'm sure will speak to everyone who watches this!."

Speaking about Alia in the Gangubhai role, Bhansali said: "She comes from very high society, urban, upper-class lifestyle that she lives in-for her to go to this world, to the other side of it completely, we started working on her voice level to bring the note down, because she speaks slightly on a higher note, and the power in the eyes to find the attitude in speaking and talking.

"And I realised that she has so much in her that she picked up everything so fast. And very soon she became that woman, she became Gangubai very soon."

Gangubai's actual family - her purported adopted son Babu Raoji Shah and granddaughter Bharti - however are not happy about the Alia and Ajay Devgn starrer.

Babu had filed a petition against the film last year and a Mumbai court even summoned Bhansali and Alia in the case.

Later, the Bombay High Court refused to stay the release of the film and also granted an interim stay on the criminal defamation proceedings against the makers.

The case is still pending.

Babu told AajTak.in: "My mother has been turned into a prostitute. People are now saying inexplicable things about my mother."

According to Gangubai's family lawyer Narendra, the whole family has been in shock since the release of the trailer.

"The way Gangubai was portrayed is completely wrong and baseless. It is vulgar. You are representing a social activist as a prostitute. Which family would like it? You have made her a vamp and lady don," he said.

According to lawyer, the family is in hiding.

"They are shifting homes, moving to Andheri or Borivali," he said.

"Many relatives have raised questions over the portrayal, asking the family if Gangubai was really a prostitute and not a social worker as they had said. The family's mental state is not good. No one is able to live in peace."

Gangubai's granddaughter Bharti said that "the makers have defamed my family out of greed for money and it cannot be accepted".

"You did not come to us while writing the book, nor did you seek our permission before making the film," she said.

"My grandmother used to live in Kamathipura. So, did every woman living there become a prostitute?

"We used to proudly narrate the stories of our grandmother. But, after the trailer was released, people have been calling to tell us how she is being portrayed as a prostitute.

"My grandmother has worked for the upliftment of the sex workers there throughout her life. What have these people turned my grandmother into."

Indo-Asian News Service

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