Alia Bhatt’s Gangubai Kathiawadi Review dives down to one thing, how Alia excelled in playing her role in story that delves about taking a clear stand on how sex workers deserve an equal life, on a par with other professionals in society.
The movie is set in the backdrop of Kamathipura called Mumbai’s red-light area. Alia plays the role of somewhat real, as well as a fictional character called Ganga (Alia Bhatt) who comes from an notable background, but is sold into the flesh trade by someone she trusted.
The story is about how she gets really disgraced, questions the two-facedness of society, and ultimately rises from the ground up to survive in a brothel, and fights for the rights of its inmates.
Writer-director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, focused on Ganga’s engagement with the people that came into her life, the trauma and heartaches that she suffered, and what she becomes by the end.
Ajay Devgn is portrayed as a brotherly figure to the sex worker, while Shantanu Maheshwari who dresses her desire for a life outside the brothel, and of course, there is a rival in Razia (Vijay Raaz) who threatens to spoil her ambitions. It is these bittersweet sections that make us invest in the narrative and keep us engaged.
Gangubai Kathiawadi Review: Alia Bhatt Excels in a challenging role of her life
Bhansali chooses to linger around the bed of black roses, as Gangu – a strong, believable character, and ultimately leaves you with something to cheer about. Take the scene where the inmates dress up the dead body of a sex worker who has died after giving birth to a child. It is as raw as it could get, but in Bhansali’s hands, even death looks elegant and evokes multiple emotions.
Bhansali has certainly a master of craft with content. He carefully peels off the element of lust through lilting melodies that are enough to convey the convoluted layers of the human heart beneath the linear tale. In fact, two songs, Meri Jaan and Jab Saiyaan, form the crux of the narrative. You can watch them on loop and are worth the price of the ticket.
In Alia, he has a muse who could depict multiple emotions in one frame, through words, silences, and expressions. Be it the body language or dialogues, she minimises the element of acting in her performance.
Watch Gangubai Kathiawadi
Watch her perform in Meri Jaan as she crystallises the complex that Ganga holds inside her in one song, she makes you cry, laugh, and feel guilty simultaneously. The way Alia gradually transforms from Ganga to Gangubai, laughs in pain, and gently hectors a child at the sight of impending conflict, makes even the predictable compelling.
The dialogues by Prakash Kapadia and Utkarishini Vashisht remain conversational even when Gangu threatens to be in the lecture. The casual presence of Dev Anand is more than just symbolic.
Alia, is well supported by the support cast, particularly Vijay Raaz in a short but memorable performance. As the eunuch sex worker, he sends chills down the spine and leaves you craving for more. Shantanu brings his dance training to help the elegant romance come alive. Devgn is supposed to bring the star value and that he does that with ease.
Sudeep Chatterjee’s cinematography in Gangubai Kathiawadi carves a visual treat. In the entry shot of Razia, the larger-than-life film posters in the background and playing a feature film in the middle of a street, Chatterjee rustles up dollops of nostalgia and awe but at the same time, he generates a gentle urge to make us walk in the forbidden lanes of Kamathipura.
Gangubai Kathiawadi ends up as potent mix of a don, a petite underdog with a tenacious character, someone who stings with her charming, yet intense smile. It is worth watching.