Friday, September 22, 2023
HomeMovies reviewGangubai Kathiawadi Is A Celebration Of The Artwork And Anguish Of Being...

Gangubai Kathiawadi Is A Celebration Of The Artwork And Anguish Of Being A Girl

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Writers: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Utkarshini Vashishtha
Solid: Alia Bhatt, Ajay Devgn, Vijay Raaz, Shantanu Maheshwari, Jim Sarbh, M.Ok. Raina
Sudeep Chatterjee
Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Gangubai Kathiawadi begins with the sounds of Begum Akhtar singing Mirza Ghalib’s iconic ghazal: Yeh na thi hamari qismat, which units the tone for poetry and ache. This can be a movie brimming with each. Within the lifetime of a intercourse employee who thrived within the bylanes of Kamathipura within the Nineteen Fifties, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali finds feisty feminism, pleasure, brutality, heartbreak and unstinting braveness. He tells her story with dramatic flourish, wealthy emotion, beautiful visuals and at all times, a bruised, beating coronary heart.

The character of the intercourse employee has a cherished place in Sanjay’s cinema. These damaged, lovely girls who refuse to be confined by their circumstances personify his model of heightened, operatic tragedy. Consider Rani Mukerji as Gulab in Saawariya who says with a smile, ‘Jeene ke liye kuch na kuch toh karna hello padta hai.’ Or Chandramukhi in Devdas. In a single scene, Paro warns Chandramukhi about harbouring notions of marriage with Devdas. She says: Tawaifon ke taqdeer mein shauhar nahin hote to which Chandramukhi replies: Tawaifon ki taqdeer hello nahi hoti.

Gangu proves Chandramukhi unsuitable by writing her personal future. She comes from an prosperous household – her father is a barrister. Sadly, she additionally has a grand ambition to be within the motion pictures and a lover who betrays her and sells her to a brothel for one thousand rupees. Gangu finally ends up standing in a doorway, beckoning prospects. However her daring, defiance and dedication permits her to seek out one other sort of stardom and ultimately even will get her an viewers with prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.


Gangubai Kathiawadi is loosely primarily based on a real story from the e book Mafia Queens of Mumbai written by Hussain Zaidi with Jane Borges. Gangu’s chapter is just round thirty pages, which supplies Sanjay and co-screenplay author Utkarshini Vashishtha ample room to brighten. At one level, Hussain writes – Though Gangu wasn’t essentially the most engaging lady in her brothel, males spoke endlessly about her abilities in mattress. However Alia Bhatt, draped principally in white sarees, radiates magnificence. As does Sanjay’s and artwork director Pallab Chanda’s model of Kamathipura.

Mumbai’s infamous red-light district turns into a bustling, energetic mohalla full of outsized personalities – just like the don Rahim Lala, a stand-in for Karim Lala, who Gangu makes her brother, or Gangu’s arch-rival Razia. These are streets lined with film theaters and vibrant hoardings. In a single scene, the electrical energy goes off and the intercourse employees stand outdoors with candles, calling out to prospects. It’s a panoramic visible.

Which in fact contradicts the inherent cruelty of their circumstances. However to accuse Sanjay and DOP Sudeep Chatterjee of constructing the ugliness aesthetic is like accusing Rohit Shetty of defying the legal guidelines of logic and physics. It’s a given. It’s what you join.

What takes this movie past the rigorously composed, fantastically lit, signature SLB frames is the thumping storytelling. In a few of his movies, like Saawariya or Guzaarish, Sanjay creates airless, hermetically sealed worlds which appear populated by concepts moderately than flesh and blood beings. However Gangubai Kathiawadi throbs with old-school melodrama and dialogue-baazi. When Gangu talks about herself in third particular person saying, ‘Gangu chand thi aur chand hello rahegi,’ you cheer for her. When she introduces herself to a journalist as Gangubai, prostitute, you applaud. When sitting with prime minister Nehru, she quotes Sahir Ludhianvi from Pyaasa, saying: Jinhe naaz hai Hind par, woh kahaan hain? You immediately tear up.

These hat-tips to the golden period of Hindi cinema are littered by the movie. Gangu is a giant fan of Dev Anand – his picture hangs in her room. There’s a pretty second during which as she flirts with Afshaan, the tailor’s nephew who she falls in love with – she turns the picture round so Dev Saab can’t watch. In one other scene, the digital camera tracks over a hoarding promoting Jahazi Lootera, which was produced by Sanjay’s father, Navin Bhansali. The brilliant lights of those theaters, with names like Alfred and Roshan Talkies, are each seductive and gently mocking as a result of the fantasies they promote are to this point faraway from the lives of the individuals who purchase them.

Regardless of the violence – emotional and bodily – that Gangubai endures, she stays a poet at coronary heart, nearly as if she is the cinematic descendent of Meena Kumari from Pakeezah. In a single scene, she expounds on the assorted shades of white within the sarees she wears – white, she says, will be the colour of chand, badal, baraf, doodh, namak.


This lyricism couldn’t have labored if Alia Bhatt had faltered. Gangubai is in nearly each body of this movie. And the actor’s girlish face is immediately at odds with the character. And but, with a purposefully lowered voice and punctiliously modulated swagger, she owns it. Watch the smaller moments – like one during which Gangu goes out with Afshaan. As she walks towards the ready horse carriage, she turns to take a look at her fellow employees. She’s like a college lady on a primary date. Or the gamut of feelings she goes by within the track Meri Jaan. In an outstanding single-take sequence, she is flirtatious, controlling, offended, weak, wounded and desperately unhappy. Throughout a second with a person that’s non-transactional, Gangu doesn’t know who to be. Ultimately, she simply has him stroke her head. What she wants most is consolation.

At 156 minutes, Gangubai Kathiawadi is a bit too lengthy. The songs are fantastically staged – have a look at the intricacy of swaying our bodies and digital camera actions in Dholida – however some, just like the qawwali Shikayat, sluggish the movie down. Additionally, whereas casting everybody’s favorite small-town matriarch Seema Pahwa as a brothel madam is terrific, her character is the one of many few that appear to veer towards caricature. As does Vijay Raaz as Razia. Although even with these two, the movie offers us fleeting glimpses of humanity. And Ajay Devgn, taking part in the charismatic and stoic don, looms massive.

This empathetic gaze fuels Gangubai Kathiawadi. A number of the storytelling is simplistic and the true Gangubai was almost certainly darker and extra complicated than this model – in spite of everything, you don’t develop into a mafia queen by being good.

However Sanjay’s rousing interpretation holds collectively. Céline Sciamma, director of the sensible Portrait of a Girl on Hearth, mentioned in an interview that to share the intimacy of a feminine character, it’s important to share her loneliness. Sanjay, his A-list group and Alia handle to make us share Gangu’s loneliness, her ache and her steely resilience. This movie is a celebration of the artwork and anguish of being a lady.

You possibly can watch Gangubai Kathiawadi at a theatre close to you. Please keep in mind to put on a masks.

Gang Lucha
Find movie reviews from the most recent Hollywood, Kollywood, and Bollywood movies and more. You can also read art and music reviews, as well as book reviews.

Most Popular