Gangubai Kathiawadi Afdah Review (2022), it will be release in OTT platforms in Hindi soon in 480p, 720p, 1080p HD Quality.
The life of an Indian sex worker, who campaigned for legalization of sex work more than 50 years ago is worth a movie. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Katiawadi reveals that his heroine fought for women’s rights in an area known as “red light” since the 1960s.
Based on Gangubai’s life as documented by journalist S. Hussain Zaidi, Mafia queens of Mumbai. Beyond the costumes, the extravagant choreography, and art design that are typical of Bhansali productions, Gangubai Kathiawadi sets Gangubai Kathiawadi apart from the rest.
Gangubai Kathiawadi Afdah Review (2022)
Gangubai Kathiawadihas clearly sanitized Gangubai, perhaps to make her more appealing as an activist and leading lady for conservative audiences. Bhansali gives us a rose-tinted picture of Gangu. He doesn’t give any details about Gangu’s business, which is what logic suggests. Gangu allowed her daughters to leave her care, tried to keep them out of sex work and dispensed in her brothel with pimps. She also opposed forced recruitments into this trade. How did she carry on her work, based on the principle of beimaanike kaam mein Imaandaari (honesty in dishonesty) after all these idealistic choices?
Ironically, such sanitization is necessary since Gangubai Kathiawadiis an appeal for an end to the hypocrisy in a society which patronises sexwork yet denigrates it. This irony comes because the film seems unwilling to uncover truths that might not have supported Gangu’s unblemished image and/or would have required nuanced writing.
The story follows Ganga (Bhatt), who travels with us from her childhood in a happy family to her marriage to Kamathipura. This is a Mumbai area famous for its sex trading. She stays with Ganga through her trauma and finally to activism.
It’s heartening to watch Bhansali give Bhatt that treatment that Indian commercial cinema normally reserves for male stars in mencentric extravaganzas. A grand entrance and camerawork that lends an almost mythical aura to this petite woman is very encouraging.
Bhatt’s child-like frame and facial transformation is a result both of her hard work and teamwork. Her pronounced make-up, her hairstyles, and the fact that her facial structure appears to have been slightly expanded make her look a lot different than the infant-faced actor she meets at the beginning of the film.
Gangubai nee Ganga has made Gangubai nee Ganga’s gait, smile and poise grow. It is shocking that she mentions 15 years ago that she arrived in Kamathipura. Her glowing skin seems to have remained the same despite all of these changes. Commercial Hindi filmmakers can’t bear to think of a female star with sagging or even borderline-lined skin. This is the final frontier. Luminosity does not depend on a woman’s skin, it is her personality. Ms Bhatt has plenty of the former, but tell Bollywood.
All of this is secondary to Gangubai’s absorbing nature. She gives Gangubai a towering dignity and a playfulness that are both playful, steely, and broken hearts. Without seeming preoccupied, she is also remarkable with her accent and the raspy voice that she used for the role.
The narrative timeline becomes confusing when it doesn’t match the space between political and cultural references in real life.
Gangubai’s playful side is evident in her sweet relationship with Shantanu Maheshwari (an innocent local tailor), and their charming mode of communication.
Maheshwari is a great choice for Gangubai Kathiawadi. Ajay Devgn brings gravitas and a long cameo as a Mumbai gangster based on real-life Karim Lla. Indira Tiwari’s Gangu’s friend at the brothel, and Jim Sarbh’s role as a journalist, are both excellent casting choices. However, Seema Pahwa’s expressions are exaggerated by the use of makeup, camera angles, and lighting.
Bhatt is the film’s emotional center, but she sometimes has to compete against Bhansali for his excesses. While Gangubai is not boringly symmetrical or aesthetic like 2010’s Guzaarish, neither does the director seek to achieve the exaggerated, inexorable visual perfection of Padmaavat where he transformed even a Sati scene into an extravagant fashion show. The film features a lot of unnecessary, but attractive-looking set pieces. Many of these are part of the Bhansali template. This time, they feature unmemorable, but hummable, songs.
Sometimes the perfection can be too much. For example, when a sex worker is killed and her colleagues surround her like well-arranged figures who pose for a painting instead of flesh-and-blood grieving friends’ deaths. These segments erode the film’s soul and energy.
Even Vijay Raaz’s portrayal of Raziabai (transgender person) in Kamathipura is more like a striking photograph than a person. Bhansali has heard enough about transgender characters being cast in India over the years. It is therefore disappointing that he chose to cast a cisgender actor in this role, despite precedents being set in conservative India for casting real-life trans actors to portray non-caricatured characters such as Sheethal Shyam, in the 2018 Malayalam movie Aabhaasam, and Meera Singhania, in last year’s Bhima Jewellers advertisement. Raziabai’s carefully constructed imagery makes Bhansali’s casting decision even more disappointing.
The tendency to create painterly visuals is a major drag on Gangubai Kathiawadi’s second half. Until a scene at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan ignites the otherwise intermittently ponderous narrative. In that scene, the protagonist’s senses of humor, oratorial skills, and charisma are all on full display.
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