In Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’, a great director and a great actress nailed and brought to life a brilliant screenplay

In Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Gangubai Kathiawadi', a great director and a great actress nailed and brought to life a brilliant screenplay

Spoiler ahead…

before i start writing about it Gangubai Kathiawadi, I have to write about my feelings about the genre. Most biopics are about “great people who endured a lot and did great things”, and these are the toughest people to dramatize on screen. In real life, they can (are.) Very People who are my role models, whom I think about and get mental adrenaline shots whenever I feel sad) – but on screen, by limiting their lives to just the highlights, they become boring. Because the narrative arc of most biopics remains the same, it rarely rises above the same set of highlights. They start at the bottom of the rock. They try, try, try. He defeats skeptics and enemies. they succeed. Rinse. Repeat. What’s worse is that most filmmakers view these lives as sacred, not human. That’s why we never get to see their flaws, their awesome eccentricities, their stuff—that make them human.

Every film needs a strong filmmaker, but this is especially for a biopic. Because if I wanted to know about the “real” Gangubai Kathiawadi, I could have wikiped it or read Hussain Zaidi’s book which is based on this film. What I want on screen is Gangubai Kathiawadi as seen through the eyes of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, one of the greatest filmmakers (and frame-makers) of our time. I want to see this “fictional” Gangubai that lives in his head, and I want to see what this director’s brilliant purple imagination does to his life.

And I must say I have mixed feelings about the end result. Gangubai Kathiawadi Definitely lively and entertaining (more about that later), but on-screen Gangubai (Alia Bhatt) – as a character – is one of those ordinary “great people who endured a lot and did great things”. She ends up being a biopic cliché. He gets an interesting “intro scene,” filled with voiceover lines like: He gives love to the street but there is love in his street too. And she wears white, which can either symbolize the purity of her heart, or a widow’s dress to signify that her dreams of family life are dead. (Maybe it’s a bit of both.) And I was generally fascinated by the Bhansali-esque touch. Gangubai is called upon by a brothel-runner to tame a young girl who will not cooperate. Sparsh is about how Gangubai hands over her umbrella to the brothel owner. The gesture says: Stop the bullshit and let me do my job.

In Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Gangubai Kathiawadi', a great director and a great actress nailed and brought to life a brilliant screenplay

But once she meets the young girl, we cut to flashbacks, one of the most used devices of the time, when Gangubai was as little as this girl. (Screenplay is by Bhansali and Utkarshini Vashisht.) Seema Pahwa was the brothel runner who was sold out at the time, and you only have to remember Rani Mukerji Sanwariya To see the difference in writing: Rani Mukerji played an extravagant (and totally Bhansali-esque) character, while Seema Pahwa played a normal “madam”. Later, Vijay Raaz appears as a political contestant, and you only have to remember Tanvi Azmi. Bajirao Mastani, The one who plotted and planned: Tanvi Azmi turns out to be a female Chanakya, while Vijay Raj comes across as a token “trans-woman” and a paper tiger, all roaring and not biting. At one point, Gangubai calls her mother after 12 years, and all you have to do is recall Hrithik Roshan’s call with his ex. request: The scene is played effortlessly, as if a painting comes to life, while here the scene seems to be “made up”. There are no tears in Gangubai’s eyes. Our tears.

And yet, the film keeps you watching. You can call the screenplay “episodic” (if you want to be charitable), or you can call it choppy, especially in the way the secondary cast is written. But when you see the corpse of a sex worker adorned by a whole bunch of her companions, when you see clouds of powder splashing down Gangubai’s face as she prepares to summon the men, when you see That a letter is being written with all the events. The sex worker in the room, when you watch the camera descend on a young girl’s face as her nose is (symbolically) being pierced, or when you watch your boyfriend (Shantanu Maheshwari) dance like Gangubai dances, Where she asks him to show you the cards he has drawn, or every time he gestures, you know you are in the hands of a master. Every director choreographs his actors, but Bhansali makes the directorial choreography himself – like in the stunning, astonishing scene where Gangubai is “taught” how to draw men with an outstretched hand. It is direction in the form of dance.

I wish the love angle had been explored more. It’s classic Bhansali territory – and I wanted the man to feel what Ram was feeling when he lost Leela ballet ballet, But even what Bhansali gives us (walks in Milan when saiyan Where everyone bows down for a reason you don’t anticipate, or the fact that she only gets close to him after covering or turning his face), than any other Hindi filmmaker There is more poetry. Of. in a wonderful QawwaaliLyricist AM Turaz writes: in memory of someonen to spend the evening / KAleja must himself to die. This is just Gangubai’s life. Imagine these lines come to life. I missed that. I was reminded of Gangubai’s inner life.

But Bhansali at least finds a unique way of addressing Part of this problem. For the first time in his career, the dialogues (written by Prakash Kapadia and Utkarshini Vashisht) have come up with 70s. Spices-The taste of film – and they are fantastic. these lines are not Black or Sanwariya or devdasWho is Bhansali’s own?world of dreams“Her dream world. These are the lines of the Salim-Javed universe. When Gangubai gets separated from her lover, she pounces on him: What will you do by being my mistress for the rest of my life? Ajay Devgn has a great scene where he humiliates a man who wants to move to Kamathipura. And I thought: maybe This There should have been a film. Perhaps Ajay should have been more than just a guest appearance. Maybe a film with the journalist’s (Jim Sarbh) part: How Gangubai, The Badass, Saved Kamathipura. (What we get is How Gangubai, The Angel, Saved Kamathipura.)

I have another suggestion: How Alia, the awesome, saved this movie. I got my doubts after watching the teaser, but Alia blew everyone away like a gust of smoke bidi, From her exuberant enthusiasm when she thinks she might have to star in Dev Anand with the character of Ajay Devgn in her stone face with the death of her friend, she turns herself into an actress – Not just as an actress, but as a “Bhansali actress”. She joins the small group of actors (Ranveer Singh, Rani Mukerji) who were able to put their own spin on this director’s gothic-gimmick Approach to “acting”, which is as much performance as the performing arts.

like every proud Spices The film has echoes, there are parallels. The first time Gangubai is boarding the train, she is a young Gujarati girl whose purest name is Ganga. She is going to Bombay to become a heroine. The second time we see her in the train, she is Gangubai. Not in films, she has become the heroine of Kamathipura. And this time she is going to Delhi to meet the Prime Minister. The first time she dances Garba at home, she is innocent and funny. The second time we see the dance in Kamathipura, it is as if it has been captured by a demon. The post-hiatus portion of the film is practically a series of echoes, scene after scene. Very Gentle mind, speech worthy of applause. The journalist claps. People applaud. Jawaharlal Nehru (mentally) appreciates. The audience applauds in the theatre. I left the theater with the thought that this worship, this love was as much for Gangubai as it was for Alia.

Copyright © 2022 Bardwaj Rangan.