Gangubai Kathiawadi.

Kamathipura is Mumbai’s Red Light Area and has been that since time immemorial. If you were born and have lived in Mumbai like I have, there is just no way that you will not come to hear about it. It is also located in such a place that many people pass it while on their way to and from places of work or on other errands.

Despite my association with Mumbai since my birth and having lived there the longest before I put down roots in Pune, I had never heard about Gangubai and this movie forced me to go back in history and read about her.

Seeing the movie, was a mind blowing experience for me for its accuracy with period costumes, vehicles, trains, train compartments etc and I kept going back down memory lane on many occasions.

The story about the Mafia Queen as she was once called, who strove to ensure safety and dignity for the sex workers of Kamathipura is in itself another remarkable lesson in history for me. Seeing her come alive through the excellent acting of Alia Bhat under excellent direction of Sanjay Leela Bhansali is something that I will not forget very soon.

I had not been to a movie since well before the onset of Covid and sitting through this one has been another landmark achievement as it were.

I am grateful to my DIL for having persuaded me to see it and to my son for sharing the experience with both of us.

I urge my Indian readers to see it if they have not already seen it and my overseas readers to see it too as I am advised that it has been released overseas with English sub-titles.

It has been a long time since I reviewed a movie in my blog and it gives me great pleasure to give this a rating of four and a half stars.

10 thoughts on “Gangubai Kathiawadi.”

  1. That sounds like an interesting film, but I haven’t seen it advertised in Belfast as yet (It’s available on Netflix but we’re not subscribers). Anyone who tries to improve the miserable lives of sex workers is doing an important job. Unfortunately with the rise in sexual trafficking, more and more women are being sucked into this dreadful way of life.

  2. Sex work is a horrendous and abusive way to live. There is no “Pretty Woman” about it. I have seen the aftermath and heard the stories directly and they make me weep for the lives of young girls stolen and their post traumatic effects.. However, I would like to see this movie and see how it was written, directed and produced.

  3. I will look for it. I have trouble with movies about sex work because no matter what the pay or protections, it is by its very nature abusive of women. And in my experience, women who end up doing that sort of work ALWAYS have an trauma/ sexual abuse history.

  4. I think every city in the world has specialised areas ours is basically what is known as K’Rd (Karanghape) and I know that during the Pandemic they have been very unhappy due to no income. Plus there were a cluster of them infected during Delta and there was a link on the tracer app about when, where, time, dates. That couldn’t have made their working lives very nice. And then there are “clubs” also had to close during those lockdowns, and I believe some have not reopened due to the social distancing aspect.
    I remember in the 60s when I was overseas often on tours going to Red Light districts, often with “windows” with the female on display. Possibly Amsterdam…
    Catherine de Seton recently posted..Fall leaves on Willerton and Seabrook.

    1. Yes, every city has a Red Light District and you are right. Amsterdam has a notorious one and I have seen it too. Kamathipura is a more vibrant and open one compared to Amsterdam. You will see this openness in the movie.

  5. I, too, will try to see this movie given your recommendation. I have the same reaction to the lives of these women as others have expressed here.

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