‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ Review: Its an Alia show through and through!

Gangubai Kathiawadi ( 2022/ Biographical Drama/ Cinema Release)

The film follows the life of Gangubai who gets pushed into flesh trade and then carves her own destiny and makes a difference in the life of Kamathipura.

Director- Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Cast- Alia Bhatt, Seema Pahwa, Ajay Devgn, Vijay Raaz, Chhaya Kadam, Indira Tiwari,Jim sarbh


After long, Sanjay Leela Bhansali leaves behind his world of grandeur, palatial sets, mesmerizing costumes, and glittering bejeweled heroines. But what is constant is the passion and love with which he tells his stories, what is constant is the passionate performances he draws out of his actors, what is constant is his artistic taste with which he creates a different world in his story.

Gangubai Kathiawadi is a very different Bhansali film as compared to his last few ones. It begins grim and dark. It takes us to the notorious red-light area of Bombay of 60’s. Of course, it’s not realistic enough to scare you away. It’s been softened up to a large extent, yet harsh enough not expected from a Bhansali film.

But then, there’s our powerhouse cute little performer Alia Bhatt who ensures that she brightens up the proceedings with her spunk and performance. Dressed up in the least dressy manner as compared to the last few Bhansali heroines, she looks beautiful in the simplest of ways.

In her most meaty and chunky role till date, she gets to deliver a character with a drool-worthy arch as an actor. She gives it her best.

With the lion’s share of claptrap dialogues, she entertains you in every frame and practically carries the film on her shoulder.

Her track with her love interest Afsaan is something to watch out for. A subtle and beautiful display of emotions by Alia.

Ajay Devgn walks in with a swag that blows you away. In his limited role, he livens up the frames he appears in and leaves you craving for more.

Seema Pahwa is a revelation in her negative role. The superb actor she is, she makes Sheela Masi seem heinous.

Vijay Raaz as Razia, in a small role, makes a mark and the only thing he leaves us wishing for is more of him.

Jim Sarbh is an actor who deserves to be seen more. Every time we see him, the feeling gets reiterated. There’s certain something special about the way he adds his nuances to the characters and their expressions.

Shantanu gives the perfect innocent charm to Afsaan.

The film is entertaining, with shining moments, poetic moments, harsh moments. 

Yet I kept waiting for it to soar. Unlike BajiRao Mastani and Padmavat, this time I missed the overwhelming moments,the gripping hold, and the emotional reach. For someone who watches cinema with my heart up my sleeve, I surprised myself by not shedding a single tear this time despite it being an emotional story.

There were portions that seem dragged. Not that you don’t feel engaged but you feel distracted.

The music too was a big drawback. While generally, Bhansali music has the capability to sway you with its melody and often melancholic feel, this time it felt obtrusive.


The film offers a striking Alia and a good set of performances, ample entertainment and a relevant message that strikes a chord. Must watch for Alia fans. And a Bhansali film is always worth its salt on the big screen. So give it a go.

Score 3 on 5.

2 thoughts on “‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ Review: Its an Alia show through and through!

  1. Beautifully described. Conveys the message clearly. A beautiful film leaving you asking for more. The poignancy seems missing. No tears of sorrow or joy in such a story is definitely a let down. The music being average also reduces the impact greatly. Like you said succinctly “One does not soar or drown in despair” ala Gurudutt the master stylist of such cinema.

    1. Thanks for the appreciation.
      I really appreciate how deeply you decipher the review and analyze the film even without actually watching it.
      Your comments are a pleasure.

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