Highlights

  • Gangubai Kathiawadi takes around 15-20 minutes to earn the audience's involvement
  • Alia tried her best to get into the skin of the character
  • The film is loosely based on S. Hussain Zaidi's book 'Mafia Queens of Mumbai'

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Gangubai Kathiawadi Movie Review: Alia Bhatt shines light into the lives around brothels of Mumbai

'Gangubai Kathiawadi' etches the journey of young Ganga who battles circumstances to become Gangubai, the madame who rises up from the ground to rule the red light area of Kamathipura.

Director
Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Actors
Alia Bhatt, Shantanu Maheshwari, Vijay Raaz, Seema Pahwa, Ajay Devgn, Jim Sarbh
Rating
3.5
 / 
5

It's a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film; it can't be devoid of grandiose visuals, cinematography, acting and, of course, court cases. Keeping the last part of the mix (legal cases) aside, the film, Gangubai Kathiawadi, etches the journey of young Ganga who battles circumstances to become Gangubai, the madame who rises up from the ground to rule the red light area of Kamathipura with an iron fist. The film is loosely based on S. Hussain Zaidi's book 'Mafia Queens of Mumbai'.

Like most Bhansali films, it takes around 15-20 minutes to earn the audience's involvement with the film and characters. You tend to doubt if the film will indeed keep you entertained till the end as you witness some missing roots and abrupt endings of story tracks. However, as the second half clicks in, it becomes gripping, and the screenplay definitely attains pace. The film's length is a concern at a time when the audience is tuned to watch shorter movies and lives on snackable videos. But that's classic Sanjay Leela Bhansali. His films are usually longer than expected.

Also watch| 'Gangubai Kathiawadi' title row: Supreme Court suggests name change

Alia Bhatt, as the titular Ganga, has tried her best to get into the skin of the character. She manages to keep you engaged throughout the film and ticks all the boxes necessary to make the character look believable – including the minute flaws of the character ingrained in the script. You may want to question the writing -- especially on the aspects of her personality -- but Alia salvages it with her performance.

As Gangubai's boyfriend, Shantanu Maheshwari infuses freshness, and the filmmaker has utilised it to the film's advantage. Seema Pahwa and Jim Sarbh have done justice to whatever is offered.

Ajay Devgn in an extended cameo as Rahim Lala, a don and Gangubai's sworn brother, is impressive. Huma Qureshi's special appearance as Dilruba goes unnoticed. Vijay Raaz as Raziabai is terrific as usual, but we wish he had more substance and a little more screen presence. This entry and the abrupt and unsatisfactory exit of characters and sub-plots leave you with a sense of having a ginger tea, albeit with no-ginger for taste. This was perhaps an attempt to capture multiple aspects of Ganga's life and journey.

Bhansali is an artist extraordinaire of sewing emotions in character establishing moment. In one scene, a girl reaches out to Gangu to pen a letter to her father. As she dictates her emotions for Ganga to capture, many other girls pitch in with a sentence of their own. It shows how each one of those women had a similar life story to share, including Ganga. It's poetic! Dialogues are impactful, and the writers have ensured not to make them overdramatic.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has always managed to enrich the storytelling experience with a list of songs to enhance the cinematic experience for the audience. But this film's music and background score aren't as impactful as in his previous works. However, the grand set and cinematography continue to enthral and excite the audience adding to the script and the storyline without making it look forced.

Those who love Bhansali's storytelling style or Alia Bhat's attempt to experiment with her characters don't miss the film in theatres. Or else you can wait to stream it at the luxury of your home once it hits Netflix.

Also watch| Gangubai Kathiawadi screening: Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal, Rekha attend the screening

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