Gangubai Kathiawadi movie review: Alia Bhatt rules in a whistle blowing performance

Gangubai Kathiawadi movie review: Alia Bhatt rules in a whistle blowing performance

Gangubai Kathiawadi movie review: Alia Bhatt rules in a whistle blowing performance

What: Gangubai Kathiawadi movie review: Alia Bhatt rules in a whistle blowing performance as Gangubai in an ‘entertaining’ biopic by the maverick Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Gangubai Kathiawadi movie synopsis

Based on the true story of Gangubai Harjivandas, popularly known as Gangubai Kothewali, in the book Mafia Queens of Mumbai by S. Hussain Zaidi, Gangubai Kathiawadi is the story of Ganga (Alia Bhatt) from Gujarat’s Kathiawad a big fan of the evergreen Dev Anand who dreams of becoming a Bollywood star, gets forced into prostitution in the Mumbai’s red light area – Kamathipura.

From here how Ganga turns into Gangu to Gangubai to the leader of Kamathipura and fights for the rights of sex workers and more finds the crux of this biopic.


Gangubai Kathiawadi movie review

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After the divine Padmaavat starring Deepika Padukone as Rani/Devi Padmaavati  - based on epic poem of the same name by Malik Muhammad Jayasi. Bhansali now moves from the palaces/Khothi of Rajasthan, Maharashtra (Bajirao Mastani) and Kolkata (Devdas) to the kotha of Mumbai’s Kamathipura in his ‘entertaining’ take on Gangubai Kathiawadi (Alia Bhatt) the so called mafia queen of the Mumbai’s dirty world of flesh trade, booze etc.

The stamp of Bhansali is right there from the first frame, vividly colorful, fantasy, musical, grandiosity, the déjà vu of the era of Madhubala, Meena Kumari, Waheeda Rehman, the days of Guru Dutt’s classic Chaudhvin Ka Chand, K Asif’s immortal Mughal E Azam.

It’s a Sanjay Leela Bhansali style classic with dollops of his known grandiosity from time to time in his entertaining biographical musical.

It’s remarkable to bring such colors and charming atmosphere in a movie based on Kamathipura.

The musical set pieces are a rich blend of Gujarati folk (Dholida), touch of Thumri (Jab Saiyaan) and Qawwali (Shikayat), in Gangubai Kathiawadi.

An innocent girl from Gujarat gets forced into prostitution in Mumbai’s famous red light area, the girl in her terrific survival instincts makes killer moves and rises from a common sex worker to the messiah, leader of that ‘badnaam’ area.

She wears different shades of whites and spots around big bindi, carries a quarter of desi daru in her batwa (purse) owns a stylish car and calls the mafia don Rahim Lala (Ajay Devgn) modeled on Karim Lala her brother.

 Gangubai is caring and also shrewd, ambitious and brave who had the guts to take on the male dominated society, meet PM Nehru and demand legalization of prostitution in India.

A cult figure and reports suggest that her statue is still there at Kamathipura. She made her way into everyone’s hears including her arch rivals like Raziabai (Vijay Raaz).

The crowd pleasing dialogues by Prakash Kapadia and Utkarshini Vashishtha (also the co writer) are citi maar.



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Alia Bhatt delivers a whistle blowing performance; Gangubai is her show all around. Arguably her best till date and undoubtedly her first all out dialogue baaz heroine wala role. Alia Bhatt is having a ball here and throwing it out of the park from time to time.

Vijay Raaz as Raziabai excels. Shantanu Maheshwari as Afsaan is very good. Good support comes from Indira Tiwari, Seema Pahwa and Jim Sarbh. Huma Qureshi is quite good.

Last but not the least Ajay Devgn in a cameo is fabulous.


Any memorable scene/dialogues in Gangubai

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Alia Bhatt’s drunk scene, the speech at Azad Maidan are clap worthy.



Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s music is a major plus. Dholida, Jab Saiyaan and Meri Jaan are the pick of the lot.



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Sudeep Chatterjee’s splendid cinematography is mesmerizing. The art direction is apt and editing by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is as per the vision.  



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Bhansali’s popular mainstream story telling in Gangubai Kathiawadi is more entertaining and less enlightening. This could have been a powerful, hard hitting but alas, it’s lost in its eye popping visuals. Actually, the movie ends at a point (a starting point to a section of audience) where it was suppose to take the momentum to the next level.


Final words

Gangubai Kathiawadi is powered by Alia Bhatt’s superb act, great music, eye popping visuals, citi maar dialogues and an uplifting story to tell on big screen, aam public ko kya chahiye – entertainment – who Gangubai Kathiawadi mein hai.


Rating : 3.5/5

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About vishal verma

vishal verma

A child born from life & fed by cinema. A filmi keeda from child & a film journalist for the last fifteen years. a father, seeker, foodie who loves crooning bollywood melodies More By vishal verma

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