Who is Gangubai Kathiawadi? Things You Must Need To Know!

Gangubai Kathiwadi, also known as the famed Mafia Queen, was born into a well-known family in the Kathiawad district of Gujarat. She had a desire to become a Bollywood actor ever since she was a very small child, and she wanted to move to Mumbai in order to pursue her aspirations.

When she was 16 years old and attending college, she met Ramnik Lal, who worked as an accountant for her father. She immediately fell in love with him. Ganga and her boyfriend made their way to Mumbai in the hopes of establishing themselves there and beginning a new life together after escaping Kathiawad.

Early Life and Career of Gangubai Kathiawadi 

Gangubai grew up in a typical middle-class family in the city of Kathiawad, Gujrat. A decent education is something that is highly valued by her family. To the contrary, Ganga has never shown any academic aptitude. She wanted nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of acclaimed actors like Hema Malini and Asha Parekh.

Her first love was with Ramnik, one of her father’s employees, when she was only 16 years old. Their families did not approve of their romance. They made the bold move to elope and tie the knot outside of the parental compound.

They fled Kathiawad and made their way to Mumbai in accordance with the decision. The duo spent a number of days together in Mumbai. Ramnik told Gangu to spend the day with his aunt when he went house hunting one morning. The Kamathipura, a notorious red light district in Mumbai, was where Ramnik’s aunt took her.

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In the end, she found out that Ramnik had sold her for 500 rupees. This betrayal devastated her beyond repair. She exerted a lot of effort in an attempt to break free, but ultimately failed.

The name Ganbubai Kothewali quickly became synonymous with her when she was elected. She done a lot of advocacy work for the rights of s*x workers in the red light district. Numerous young women who had been coerced into working in this industry were also released by her. S*x workers in Kamathipura grew to think of her as a mother figure.

What Was the Cause of Her Death?

Gangubai Kathiawadi

Almost half a century after first setting foot in Mumbai, Gangubai Kathiawadi died of a heart attack at her home in Kamathipura in 2008. When she passed away, Gangubai had lived for 68 years. Gangubai is mentioned in the Mafia Queens of Mumbai book as a prominent figure in the largest red light district in Mumbai.

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How Was Her Relation With With Karim Lala?

Hussain Zaidi’s book “Mafia Queens of Mumbai” features a chapter about a woman named Gangubai who, according to the book, was a major player in the city’s largest red light district, Kamathipura. She had a lot of clients in the criminal underworld and among the mafia.

Together with Haji Mastan and Varadarajan, the 1960s saw Karim Lala as one of the city’s most prominent Mafia figures. Karim also ruled over the notorious red light district of Kamathipura.

A case in point has Gangubai seeking redress from one of the most powerful Mafia Dons, Karim Lala. According to the book, she was raped by one of Karim’s gang members and sought revenge on him.

Gangubai Kathiawadi

Later, when Gangu tied the rakhi around Karim Lala‘s wrist, their connection took a new direction, and he became her brother. As one of the ‘Mafia Queens’ of Mumbai, Gangubai rose to prominence after being treated by Karim Lala as an equal and given the reins of Kamathipura.

Even though she was a sex trafficking victim, Gangubai rose to become the most powerful and feared procurer in Mumbai’s Kamathipura.

Did She Exploit the Prostitues?

Once allied with Karim Lala, Gangubai governed Kamathipura, although she never used her position to exploit or coerce women or girls into prostitution. The struggles she endured only strengthened her resolve to fight for the rights of her fellow sex workers. For the sex workers and the abandoned children, she represented a deity.

She was the owner of a brothel, yet she never had anyone work there without their will. All the women and children of Kamathipura were her own, and she protected them as if they were her own.

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To this day, residents of Kamathipura remember Gangubai for all she accomplished for the community, including her efforts to halt a campaign to eliminate Mumbai’s prostitute market. To honour her, a massive statue has been placed there. Even today, posters of Gangubai may be found hanging in the brothels of Kamathipura.

As her power strengthened, Gangubai became famous for favouring sarees with voluminous golden borders. Her large crimson bindi was also prominently shown on her forehead.  She used her considerable influence to advocate for the rights of women who had been forced into prostitution and for the welfare of the sex workers.

After hearing Gangubai’s wisdom, Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru endorsed her idea to secure red light districts.

Biopic Movie Starring Alia Bhatt as Gangubai 

Gangubai Kathiawadi

A film titled “Gangubai Kathiawadi” that is based on her life was also just released. In addition to directing, Sanjay Leela Bhansali also served as the film’s producer alongside Jayantilal Gada. It features Alia Bhatt in the lead role.

Based on a petition filed by Gangubai’s adoptive son, Babuji Rawji Shah, the Mumbai High Court ordered actress Alia Bhatt, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and author Hussain Zaidi to appear in court in April 2021.

Family attorney Narendra Dubey for the Gangubai claimed, “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 [Gangubai] a vamp and lady don.”

A valid proof that Shah is Gangubai’s son was requested by the court, thus he also mentioned that the case is still ongoing. The man spoke thusly: Although we have proved it in court, there is no hearing in this matter now.

Continuing, he said: They have been 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.”

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