Years later, Alia Bhatt star Gangubai Kathiawadi focused on living on a global platform in 2022. From Chameli to Chandni Bar…
There aren’t many mainstream Bollywood movies that capitalize on the lives of sex workers. Years later, Alia Bhatt star Gangbhai Kathiawadi has made his 2022 global focus on life on his platform. The film broke records worldwide and emerged as one of his biggest hits of the year and one of the first blockbusters since then. A pandemic hit.
The film showed how they are human and part of society, their struggles and how not to be looked down upon. However, before Gangubai Kathiawadi, there are several Bollywood movies starring her A-listers who also stood out for their depictions of sex workers. Here are some Bollywood movies that depict the lives of sex workers through different lenses.
The 2004 Hindi coming-of-age film Chameli, starring Kareena Kapoor and Rahul Bose, succeeds in giving a humane touch to the lives of sex workers. The film reveals the human side of sex workers who are treated like commodities, focusing on the male lens that sees sex workers as ‘impure’ and ‘foul-mouthed’ women.
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The 2017 Hindi period drama Begum Jaan is a Hindi remake of the acclaimed 2015 Bengali film Rajkahini, written and directed by National Film Award-winning director Srijit Mukherji. In the film, set in her 1948, the final year of Indian independence, Vidya Balan plays the protagonist of a brothel madam.
Gagubai Kathiwadi, a 2022 Hindi film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and starring Alia Bhatt, is a biographical crime drama. The film is based on the true story of Gangajaji Bandha Sukhatiawadi (commonly known as Gangbhai his Kotewari). The life of Gangabai Kothewari is documented in the book The Mafia Queen of Mumbai by S. Hussein Zaidi. The book is a collection of stories about women who were part of Mumbai’s underworld and one of the most influential women in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red light district, Gangbhai her Katyawadi He was the owner of many brothels in the area.
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The 2001 Hindi crime drama film Chandni Bar depicts Mumbai’s gruesome underworld filled with prostitutes, dance clubs and gun crime. Directed by Madhur Bhandarkar and starring multiple national award-winning film stars His Tabu and His Atul Kulkarni, Ananya Khare, Rajpal Yadav, Minakshi Sahani and Vishal Thakkar played key roles. The film follows Mumtaz (Taboo), an innocent young woman from a remote village whose family was murdered during a riot, moves to Mumbai with her uncle and becomes a dancer at Chandni’s bar. It is a story that persuades.
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