Gangubai Kathiawadi fell in love but her family was not happy with the relationship so she fled to Mumbai. But her lover betrayed her and sold her to a brothel and after that, she never returned.
Gangubai used to run a brothel in the Kamathipura area of Mumbai in the 1960s. Gangubai’s real name was Ganga Harjivan Das Kathiawari. She was born and raised in Kathiawar, Gujarat.
A new film based on her is actually based on a book called ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’, written by Hussain Zaidi, research by reporter Jane Borges.
Now Indian filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali is making a film on the life of Gangubai Kathiawadi. Actress Alia Bhatt is playing the role of Gangubai. The movie trailer has just been released.
Gangubai Kathiawadi ran a brothel and was tricked into joining the profession. He belonged to a prosperous family in Kathiawar whose members were educated and engaged in the legal profession.
Gangu fell in love with an accountant named Ramnik Lal but his family was not happy with the relationship so she fled to Mumbai. But Ramnik Lal betrayed her and sold her to Kamathipura’s brothel. Then she realized that she could never return home because her family would not accept her.
So she adjusted to the situation and started working as a sex worker.
She was not a gangster. She was not part of the underworld, but she was involved in work that was not viewed with respect. As time passed, Kamathi became the head of the entire red-light area. In this way, she first became ‘Gangu’ from ‘Ganga’, and then from Gangu to ‘Madam’.
Gangubai contested and won the local elections in Kamathipura. In this way, she became Gangubai Kathiawadi from Gangu Sex Worker.
The Kathiawari associated with her name also shows how close she was to her family.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Gangubai became quite popular in Kamathipura. She was like a mother to other sex workers. She had removed the influence of the ‘madams’ who ran the brothel.
Gangubai wore a white sari with a golden border, a blouse with golden buttons and golden glasses and travelled in her car.
She loved to wear things made of gold. As a child, her dream was to become an actress. Her interest in the film world continued with age. They helped send home many girls who had been tricked into the brothel.
She was also very active in protecting the women involved in this work. She spoke out against the injustice done to women and took action against those who exploited women.
She thought that there should be space for sex workers in the cities. Her speech at a rally for women’s empowerment and rights in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan became very popular.
After Gangubai’s death, her portraits and statues were erected in several brothels.
Gangobai’s influence was exacerbated after an incident in Kamathipura.
A man abused Gangubai, injured her and did not pay her. And it happened more than once. Once the situation got so bad that she had to be taken to hospital. Then she started gathering information about this person. she found out that this man named Shaukat Khan belonged to Karim Lala’s gang.
Abdul Karim Khan was known as Karim Lala in the underworld. Gangubai went to Karim Lala and told him everything that was happening to her. Karim Lala promised to protect Gangubai.
The next day, when Shaukat Khan reached the brothel, he was severely beaten. Karim Lala made Gangubai his sister and at the same time, Gangubai’s influence and dominance in the area increased considerably.
St. Anthony’s Girls’ High School was established in Kamathipura in the 1960s. Voices began to be raised that the brothels should be closed because the little girls would be badly affected by them.
Taking advantage of the acquaintances among the politicians, she immediately asked for time to meet the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. By the way, no official record of this meeting has been kept but Hussain Zaidi has mentioned this story in his book.
Zaidi wrote in Mafia Queens of Mumbai that Nehru was also surprised by Gangubai’s cleverness and clear ideas in this meeting. Nehru asked her why she came to this profession when she could get a good job or a good husband.
It is said that in this meeting, Gangu Bai immediately made an offer to Nehru. She told Nehru that if she was willing to accept her as his wife, she would leave the profession forever.
Nehru was shocked but refused to marry her. Then Gangubai said, “Prime Minister, don’t be angry. I just wanted to prove my point. It’s easy to give advice, but it’s hard to do it yourself. ”
Nehru became unresponsive. At the end of the meeting, Nehru promised Ganguly that he would consider their demands. After the intervention of the Prime Minister himself, the plan to remove these women from Kamathipura was not implemented.