Gangubai Kathiawadi faces legal trouble, family seeks stay on film's release: 'She was not a prostitute'
Ahead of the world premiere of Gangubai Kathiwadi, Gangubai's adopted family has objected to her portrayal in the film and sought a stay on the release.
Even as Sanjay Leela Bhansali is gearing up for the world premiere of his new film, Gangubai Kathiawadi, at the Berlinale, the film is facing legal roadblocks in India. Alia Bhatt plays the titular role in the film and Ajay Devgn also makes special appearance in the movie that is loosely based on Hussain Zaidi's book Mafia Queens of Mumbai. The family of Gangubai has sought a stay on the release of the movie that is set to hit theatres on February 25. Notices have been sent to Sanjay and Hussain and charges of defamation have also been levied against them. Alia has also been named in both
Advocate Narendra Dubey, on behalf of Gangubai's adopted children, told Hindustan Times, "Nobody wants their mother to be portrayed as a prostitute. Even the son of a prostitute won't want that. It is just for the sake of money, it assassinates the character of a person. It is not a matter of mother and son, it is a matter of respect and dignity for every woman. No woman would want to be portrayed in such a nude and obscene manner. Even if we believe what Hussain Zaidi wrote in his book, he said Gangubai never wanted to become a prostitute. Would that woman then, want to be portrayed as a prostitute? She was a social worker and her family informed me that Morarji Desai, Jawahar Lal Nehru, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to visit her home during elections because she was a renowned face in Kamathipura at that point. She fought for the rights of prostitutes."
The upcoming film has been in news for at least two years and is based on a book that came out much earlier. Asked about the timing of it all, the advocate said, "We moved for a stay soon after the first promo for the film came in 2020. We moved in September 2020. The trial court confirmed the adoption but the high court has asked for proof of adoption. The high court is asking about proof of adoption. The case (seeking a stay on the film's release) is now pending in the Supreme Court of India. We hope it gets a hearing before the film releases." He added that not everyone may know about novels being written by a crime reporter, not everyone can be aware of it.
Gangubai had four adopted kids - Baburao, Baby, Shakuntala and Rajan. According to Zaidi's book, Gangubai ran away from home for her attraction towards the showbiz but her suitor sold her into sex work. She became a prominent and celebrated figure in the underworld as well as the district of Kamathipua, a red-light area in Mumbai.
Speaking with Aaj Tak, Baburao claimed that his mother was a social worker. "They have turned my mother into a sex worker and people say things about her. I do not like it." Late Krishna's daughter Bharti, Gangubai's granddaughter added, "These makers have defamed my family as they are greedy for money. This cannot be accepted. Neither were we contacted when the book was written, nor when they made the film. They did not seek our permission. My grandmom stayed in Kamathipura but every woman staying there cannot be called a prostitute."