The World Premiere of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Gangubai Kathiawadi took place at the Berlinale on Wednesday 16th February. The screening and star studded gala was held at the Friedrichstadt-Palast, where Bhansali's film screened as a Special Gala, the closing film of the festival programme.
For the public at large, the film opens in cinemas worldwide on February 25, with some screenings on the evening of the 24th, and is co-produced by Bhansali with Dr. Jayantilal Gada of Pen Studios.
The glowing Alia Bhatt wore a Rimple & Harpreet Narula white sari ensemble on the red carpet and captured everyone's heart alongside her director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the film's producer who made up the delegation of the film appearing in Berlin.
The Hindi-language biographical crime drama also features Shantanu Maheshwari, Vijay Raaz, Indira Tiwari and Seema Pahwa in pivotal roles, while Ajay Devgn is featured in an extended cameo appearance.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali is, of course, the prolific Indian filmmaker, screenwriter, and music composer who is known for his work in Hindi cinema. Among his masterpieces are Devdas, starring Indian cinema megastars Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit, Black with the legendary Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji as well as Saawariya, based on Fyodor Dostoevsky's 1848 short story 'White Nights' which also inspired Luchino Visconti's 1957 film by the same name, and the 2008 James Grey film Two Lovers with Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow. While Saawariya is visually breathtaking, boasts a stunning soundtrack by Monty Sharma and features early performances by Ranbir Kapoor and Soonam Kapoor at the start of their prolific careers, the film didn't do well at the box office.
His latest film Gangubai Kathiawadi is loosely based on the true story of Gangubai Harjivandas, popularly known as Gangubai Kothewali, whose life was documented in a chapter of the book Mafia Queens of Mumbai written by S. Hussain Zaidi. It depicts the rise of a simple girl from Kathiawad, with aspirations to be a Bollywood star, who was sold to a brothel for and thus saw her life take a different turn by fate. She later became a powerful brothel madame, Gangubai Kathiawadi and won local elections in Kamathipura, where she lived and was renowned as the Madam of Kamathipura becoming a kind of Mumbai (at the time still named Bombay) mafia icon.
All photos © ANTONIO CASTELLO, courtesy of the filmmakers.