Gangubai Kathiawadi: The Real Life Story Of Betrayal, Struggle, And Power

Mad4Her By Harshita Singh | 2 min read

Gangubai Kathiawadi

Recently, the Alia Bhatt Starrer movie Gangubai Kathiawadi was released on 24th February 2022. The movie received appreciation for its story and the portrayal of Gangubai by Alia Bhatt. The movie directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is based on a real-life story. Gangubai Kathaiwadi was well known as the Mafia queen. She had a tough life, faced betrayal, and rose to power eventually.

Family and Early Life of Gangubai Kathiawadi

Gangubai Kathiawadi was born in a well-respected and known family of Gujarat. Gangubai’s real name was Ganga Harjivandas. Since childhood, she wanted to become an actress and showed a keen interest in Bollywood movies. She wanted to go to Mumbai to become an actress and follow her dream. When she was just 16 years old, she fell in love with Ramnik Lal. He was her father’s accountant. Ganga knew that her father would not accept him. So, she ran away with him and came to Mumbai.

Betrayal From Her Partner

Gangubai Kathiawadi thought that she would start a happy and new life with her partner. Both got married. Later, Ramnik betrayed her and sold her to a brothel for 500 rupees. She was shattered and heartbroken. Once there, she knew that there was no way out. She had to work as a prostitute. Gangubai Kathiawadi missed her family, but there was no way she could go back. She regretted her decision as well.

Misbehaviour Towards Her

Gangubai Kathiawadi started living in a red-light area of Kamathipura. Many underworld men used to visit her. Karim Lala was a well-known mafia of that time. He controlled the area of Kamathipura as well. Once, one man who worked for Karim Lala visited Gangubai Kathiawadi behaved violently towards her. She had to be admitted to the hospital. The incident got repeated. Gangubai knew that she had to do something about this. Gangubai Kathiawadi gathered all her courage and went up to Karim Lala and complained about the man who worked for him.

Becoming The Sister of The Mafia

Karim Lala got furious and punished his worker in front of everyone. He promised Gangubai that if anybody ever tried hurting her again, he will protect her. Gangubai was touched, and she started considering Karim Lala his brother. She even took out a thread and tied it on his hand. Karim Lala handed the rule of Kamathipura to her. Since then, everybody started identifying her as the sister of the mafia and the queen of Kamathipura.

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Empathy For Women and Children

After receiving the power, Gangubai tried her best to make a life of other women and children easier. Although she ran her brothel, she made sure that no one was forced to stay be a part of it. Gangubai Kathiawadi ensured that any woman who was brought by force reached her home safely. Only women who gave their consent to work were kept at the brothel. Gangubai Kathiawada made various donations to different NGOs for the welfare of the children. Even women who worked for her received good treatment. At festivals, she brought gifts for everyone. She even led a movement against closing brothels.

Taking Stand For Others

Gangubai Kathiawadi became such a well-known name that the Prime Minister then, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, invited her to his house to talk. He asked her why she was against closing brothels. She said that it was the only source of livelihood for many women, and without it, they would suffer. Additionally, now nobody makes them a part of their family. So, working was necessary for their survival. To date, many brothels still have her pictures in them. Also, a statue was made in the area as a remembrance.

If you loved this story, you can read – Meet Transwoman Who Founded An NGO To Offer Homeless People With Refuge.

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