Gangubai Kathiawadi

The tale of Gangubai Kathiawadi, Mafia Queen of Mumbai

Have you seen the incredible poster of Bhansali’s new ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ showing Alia Bhatt in the lead role? If not then Bollywood cutie pie Alia Bhatt will be seen stepping into the shoes of much controversial brothel owner Gangubai Kathiawadi which will be in cinemas by 11th September 2020. But who was Gangubai Kathiawadi and how much do you really know about her? Today, we are going to take you through the tale of the controversial life of the Mafia Queen of Mumbai- Gangubai Kathiawadi!

Who was Gangubai Kathiawadi?

Unlike other mafia queens of Mumbai, Gangubai Kathiawadi was not a loner instead was raised in a well reputed family of Gujarat and was then known as Gangubai Harjivandas. S. Hussain Zaidi, the author of the book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’, is a renowned author and an insider of Mumbai’s crime stories. In his book he talked about Gangubai and said that she had played a tremendous role in improving brothel conditions at the time. According to his book, Gangubai always aspired to become an actress whereas her parents dreamed another future for her where she could have been a well-educated settled women. But her thirst to become an actress led her to be charmed by her father’s accountant. When she was 16 years old, she fell in love with that person and ran away with him. They together came to Mumbai, but fate await something else for her. Just when she was dreaming to start her new life, her so called husband pushed her into prostitution at a very young age. She was sold into a brothel at mere 500 rupees. And from here starts her journey.

Gangubai Kathiawadi

Gangubai Kathiawadi tried several ways to get out of there, all in vain, tired from all the sufferings she decided to accept this future for herself. During this time, Mumbai was ruled by Kareem Lala, who was said to be one of the leading mafia of that time. Kareem Lala’s crucial person Shaukat Khan has his eyes for Gangubai. Every day he goes to brothel just to molest, harm and rape Gangubai. He was so cruel that he would drag her all the way to the room just for fun. But this was something Gangubai could never accept. One day she knocked Kareem Lala’s doorstep to complain about his person. On the other hand Kareem Lala was shocked to see her at his door and ordered his servants to take the lady in an isolated place, provide her food and guard till he comes there. Gangubai had her own reputation and denied eating any food provided to her. After the day long wait when Kareem Lala finally came to see her, she told him her complete story. On asking why she hadn’t taken any food, Gangubai politely replied that if her presence can offend him to an extent that he wish to see her away from the eyes of the people, then she would never do a mistake of dirtying his utensils. Hearing her story, Kareem Lala assured her that this will not happen again and if Khan returns to the place, then inform him as soon as possible. On returning back, Gangubai tied a thread on his wrist and told him that no other man has talked to her with such dignity ever before. Seeing Gangubai’s sweet gesture, Kareem Lala vowed her as his own sister and directed everyone to protect Gangubai from then onwards.    

Next day when Khan entered the brothel, a messenger ran towards Kareem Lala and informed him about the situation. Without wasting time, Lala rushed to the brothel and hit Khan till he was half dead. Since then Gangubai become a sensation in the area and was promoted as the Brothel owner. This was exactly where she stepped into her life as Mafia queen. She ran a kotha in the Kamathipura area of Mumbai and later, many criminals became her customers. Gangubai Kathiawadi did a lot of work for sex-works and for the well-being for orphans. She imposed a rule that no women can be sold into a brothel without her permission. On her this initiative all the sex workers of the area appreciated her and kept her photo inside their rooms to worship. She even revolted against the removal of Mumbai’s prostitute market at that time. Even today, the statue of Gangubai Kathiawadi stands tall in Kamathipura area of Mumbai. This was her Legacy!  

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