Any Sanjay Leela Bhansali project is cause for celebration – the filmmaker who has given us films like Padmaavat, Bajirao Mastani and Black had previously announced that he is making a film on the iconic Gangubai Kothewali. The film tells the story of Gangubai who was one of the most feared and renowned madams of a brothel in Kamathipura. However, like previous Sanjay Leela Bhansali films, this one too seems to have fallen into controversy before its release. According to media reports, Gagubai’s son, Babuji Rawji Shah has registered a case against the filmmaker and actress Alia Bhatt who plays the lead role and Bhansali Productions.
That’s not all – Shah has also filed a case against writer Hussain Zaidi, on whose novel The Mafia Queens of Mumbai the film is based and on Jane Borges, a reporter whose research forms a large part of the foundation for the acclaimed book.
According to The Print, Shah has alleged that certain portions of Zaidi’s book are not only defamatory but that they also infringe on his right to privacy, self-respect and liberty. He has also sought a permanent cessation of the printing and circulation of the book and also asked for deletion of the chapters concerning Gangubai’s life.
According to multiple media reports, Gangubai was the only madam in the ’60s to own a Bentley and is also said to have met India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to discuss the issues plaguing sex workers in a bid to improve their living conditions.
Gangubai Kathiawadi was scheduled to be released in theatres on September 2020 but was pushed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2017, it was reported that India’s favourite desi girl, Priyanka Chopra was set to star as the titular character in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film but she was replaced by Bhatt in 2019. Shooting for the film wrapped up in the last week of November this year and this film is perhaps the only one that will make people flock to theatres.
“It’s a great feeling to be reunited with the team and being back on set. Of course, we have multiple restrictions and protocols to follow, everyone is very careful, taking all sorts of precautions. But we’ve accepted that this is the new normal, and we’re all trying to make the best of the situation,” Bhatt had told Hindustan Times in an interview earlier regarding her return to the sets in the midst of this global pandemic.
Gangubai Kathiawadi will be Bhatt’s first collaboration with the legendary director. She was earlier set to star in Inshallah, also starring Salman Khan, but nothing came of the project.