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Gangubai’s Family Accuses the Makers Of Defaming An Iconic Woman

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In a recent interview, Gangubai’s adopted son Babu Raoji Shah and granddaughter Bharti have slammed the film claiming that the makers have turned her into a prostitute.

Babu Shah has expressed his disappointment with the film saying, “My mother has been turned into a prostitute.” He also added that people are now endlessly gossiping about his mother.

Gangubai’s family lawyer has said that the entire family has been in shock ever since the trailer was released. The lawyer said,”The way Gangubai was portrayed is completely wrong and baseless. It is vulgar. You are representing a social activist as a prostitute. Which family would like it? You have made her a vamp and lady don.”

He added,”The issue with our [legal] system here is that instead of doing something about the gross misrepresentation, you are asked to produce proof that the son is indeed Gangubai’s son. Although we have proved it in court, there is no hearing in this matter now.” 

“Our fight started in 2020 when his son [Babu Raoji Shah] came to know that a film was being made on the life of Gangubai after seeing the picture of his mother in the promo of the film. Since then, the family has been in hiding. They are shifting homes, moving to Andheri or Borivali. Many relatives have raised questions over the portrayal, asking the family if Gangubai was really a prostitute and not a social worker, as they had said. The family’s mental state is not good. No one is able to live in peace.” said the lawyer.

“We have sent notices to Sanjay Leela Bhansali (director) and Hussain Zaidi (writer of Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Ganglands, from where Gangubai Kathiawadi was adapted). However, there has been no response from them.” the lawyer added that notice has already been sent to the makers.

“The makers have defamed my family out of greed for money. It cannot be accepted. You did not ask for the family’s consent before going ahead with the project. You did not come to us while writing the book, nor did you seek our permission before making the film.” said Gangubai’s granddaughter Bharti.

“My grandmother used to live in kamathipura. So, did every woman living there become a prostitute? My grandmother had adopted four children there – two daughters, Shakuntala Ranjit Kawi (Bharti’s mother) and Sushila Reddy, and two sons, Babu Raoji Shah and Rajinikanth Raoji Shah. We are from this family, but now we’ve been termed ‘illegal.’ When our grandmother went through with the adoption, such strict adoption laws were not in place.”  she added remembering her grandmother.

“We used to narrate the stories of our grandmother proudly. But, after the trailer was released, people called to tell us how she was being portrayed as a prostitute. My grandmother has worked for the sex workers’ upliftment throughout her life. What have these people turned my grandmother into,” 

Mumbai court had even summoned director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and actress Alia Bhatt in the case. Later, the Bombay High Court had refused to stay the release of Gangubai Kathiawadi and granted an interim stay on the criminal defamation proceedings against the filmmakers.

Alia and Sanjay Leela Bhansali are in Berlin for the premiere of Gangubai Kathiawadi and haven’t responded to the allegations yet. 

Based on a chapter from Hussain Zaidi’s book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’. Gangubai Kathiawadi releases in cinemas on February 25.

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