Gangubai Kathiawadi Review: Alia Bhatt is Terrific in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Intense Drama!

Gangubai Kathiawadi, a biographical crime drama film, is now out in theatres. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the director penned the screenplay with Utkarshini Vashishtha. The film stars Alia Bhatt as Ganga/Gangubai, Shantanu Maheshwari as Afsaan, Vijay Raaz as Raziabai, Indira Tiwari as Kamli, and Ajay Devgn as Rahim Lala. The rest of the cast includes Seema Pahwa, Jim Sarbh, Huma Qureshi and several others. The story is adapted from a chapter from S Hussain Zaidi’s book Mafia Queens of Mumbai.

The cinematography is by Sudeep Chatterjee. Sachit Balhara and Ankit Balhara have given the background score. Bhansali has composed the music of his latest directorial. The film is produced by Bhansali Productions and Pen India Limited. The duration of Bhatt’s latest release is at least 157 minutes. The synopsis reads, “A story of strength, inspiration and resilience. This year, we celebrate the journey of a girl who not only rose to power but reigned supreme.”

Gangubai Kathiawadi Review: Plot Summary

The story is about Ganga Harjivandas from Kathiawad. Ganga elopes to Mumbai with her boyfriend, Ramnik Laal, at a very young age. She dreams of becoming an actor and is a huge Dev Anand fan. Ramnik promises that he’ll help her become an actor. Instead, he sells Ganga off at a brothel in Kamathipura for 1000 rupees. Since then, life has never been the same for Ganga, who becomes Gangubai.

From working as a sex worker to a brothel owner, Gangubai’s journey has had many ups and downs. Rahim Lala comes into the picture when something appalling happens to her. Their brother-sister bond grows with time to a business equation. Gangubai is a badass with a big heart. She is proud of her business but doesn’t believe in forcing young girls into prostitution. Gangubai wants to become the President of Kamathipura. But her opponent is Raziabai, another powerful brother owner.

A sex worker, brothel owner, mafia queen now becomes the voice for 4000 women in Kamathipura. She fights for basic rights like education, shelter, health facilities and respect for women and kids of Kamathipura.

Gangubai Kathiawadi Review: Screenplay, Direction

Gangubai Kathiawadi has a long first half showing how Ganga becomes Gangubai. A happy and chirpy girl from Kathiawad loses her innocence when her lover deceives her. But she doesn’t give up and learns to fight back with the life that got forced on her. From a multicolour narrative for a few minutes, the film instantly adapts to white everywhere. Yet, all the whites come together to tell the vibrant story of the power, strength, and fierceness of this lady who endured the suffering of a lifetime at a very young age.

Gangubai Kathiawadi Still 1

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With time, Gangubai becomes tough and truthful. But she knows who deserves to be treated with respect and to whom she should give it back. It doesn’t take long for the character to pique our interest. It’s a winning combination of brilliant writing and Alia Bhatt’s outstanding performance. The amazing direction and cinematography add to what is already a fantastic film. The background score is played frequently, but only when absolutely necessary. As with every SLB film, the first half requires patience.

The second half is where Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi becomes fast-paced, more gripping and solid. Every scene, dialogue, and emotional moment are a chef’s kiss. As the white grows more visible, Gangubai becomes more fearless and powerful. It also brings the entertainment factor for the audience to enjoy.

The narration of Bhansali’s film is linear. Nonetheless, there are always sequences that stand out. You’ll either be on the edge of your seat or teary-eyed when you watch these scenes. Prakash Kapadia and Utkarshini Vashishtha’s dialogues are remarkable. Some make us chuckle, while others speak directly to us as a society that has been harsh to sex workers. Many dialogues have a serious tone, and some even have double meanings.

Gangubai Kathiawadi Still 2

Gangubai Kathiawadi Review: Music and Performances

Along with the main story, the songs in SLB’s film portray different stories in themselves. Jhumi Re Gori is a Navratri song that depicts the tale of a happy and exuberant girl who sees life as a dream. Jab Saiyaan is teasing about growing sense of love and how gently you want to take it. The song’s curiosity is something that every person in love has felt. Then there’s Meri Jaan, a blend of confusion, agony, and incredible sensuality.

In Meri Jaan, the touch of care is something Gangu has yearned for. It’s a hauntingly beautiful portrayal of how these sex workers feel about love’s physicality. Dholida is another Navratri song that appears to be joyous on the surface but is a painful reminiscence of Gangubai’s past. The song’s beats hit like a reminder of what life was and what it is now. Shikayat is a lover’s complaint with lyrics that need to be heard carefully because it’s hard-hitting.

Coming to performances, Alia Bhatt has given her career-best performance so far as Gangubai Kathiawadi. She breaks your heart, makes you smile, makes you laugh, empowers you and makes you furious about what’s happening. She adapts to the physicality of what one would expect a mafia queen to be. The more powerful Gangubai becomes, the more deep and thick Alia’s voice becomes. It shows growth, confidence, and proof of how the person has fought to be where they are. She’s terrific in every frame and plays the darkest character with great conviction in a colour that symbolises goodness and virtue.

Shantanu Maheshwari as Afsaan brings grace and beauty like a Swan on screen and in Gangubai’s life. The actor looks beautiful on-screen as a shy lover of a badass lady. Actors Vijay Raaz, Ajay Devgn, Indira Tiwari, Seema Pahwa and Jim Sarbh are good in their parts.

Gangubai Kathiawadi Review: Final Thoughts

Overall, Gangubai Kathiawadi is a story that one doesn’t expect from Sanjay Leela Bhansali but is purely an SLB drama. The film is great with emotions, some humorous moments and is packed with wonderful music and phenomenal performances. It’s a big-screen experience one shouldn’t miss at all.

Also Read: A Thursday Review: An Outstanding Yami Gautam Keeps You Intrigued Till the Chilling End!

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Gangubai Kathiawadi Review: Alia Bhatt is brilliant in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's crime drama that's intense and entertaining.

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Gangubai Kathiawadi Review: Alia Bhatt is brilliant in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's crime drama that's intense and entertaining.Gangubai Kathiawadi Review: Alia Bhatt is Terrific in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Intense Drama!