In her new film, Alia Bhatt will be playing the titular character of Gangubai Kathiawadi, one of the most dreaded women of Mumbai’s underworld.

We got a glimpse of her powerful character in the teaser of the film that released recently. The movie revolves around the life of Gangubai Kothewali who was also known as the ‘Madam of Kamathipura’ in the red light area of Mumbai.

Indian Express

Most of the things that we know about her is from S Hussain Zaidi’s book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’, which also inspired Alia Bhatt’s movie.

Gangubai was born in Kathiawad in Gujarat. She always dreamt of becoming an actress in Mumbai.

GG official

At 16, she fell in love with the accountant at her father’s place and the two got married. The duo then fled to Mumbai. 

Instead of entering the film industry, Gangubai landed in brothels after her husband sold her into prostitution in the red light district of Kamathipura apparently for ₹500.


With no help from anyone, she remained in the business and became one of the most prized sex workers in the area and earned a lot of money.

In the 1960s, she was apparently raped by a gangster of Karim Lala’s gang. Karim Lala was a mafia don during that era. Gangubai did not sit quiet and approached the don for justice. Following this, Karim Lala made Gangubai his ‘rakhi sister’ and warned anyone against harming her.


Gangubai now became very powerful with all the support from Karim Lala. She ran her own brothel in Kamathipura, drove in a black Bentley and became the undisputed queen of the area.

Unlike others in her business, Gangubai was a champion of sex workers’ rights and she left no stone unturned in helping sex workers and their families both, financially and emotionally.


As per reports, she once even impressed the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru by her speech at a women’s empowerment summit stressing on the need of prostitution belts in cities. The two once met and talked about the proposal to protect red light areas too.

If reports are to be believed, her photos still adorn the walls of brothels in Mumbai and people have erected a statue of her in Kamathipura.


Can’t wait for the movie to divulge more details about this powerful women.