New Delhi: Upcoming Bollywood movie Gangubai Kathiawadi, which is based on the life of a Mumbai-based brothel owner by the same name, has landed in legal trouble after her son Babuji Rawji Shah filed a case against the film’s director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, actor Alia Bhatt, Bhansali Productions, writer Hussain Zaidi and reporter Jane Borges.
The film is based on the book The Mafia Queens of Mumbai, written by Zaidi with original research by Borges.
Shah, 74, has objected to the book’s second part (from pages 50 to 69) that details Gangubai’s life. He has called it defamatory in nature and an infringement upon his right to privacy, self-respect and liberty.
The first hearing of the case, which was filed Sunday at the Bombay Civil Court, was held Tuesday. The defendants have been given time until 7 January to respond.
Shah has sought a permanent order restraining printing and circulation of the book, deleting of specific chapters and halting production of the film.
Speaking to ThePrint, Narendra Dubey, Shah’s lawyer, said a criminal complaint may also be filed (against all of those named above) for defamation, indecent representation of women, and circulation of obscene and indecent material, in the coming week .
This isn’t the first time that Bhansali’s films have courted controversy. In 2018, the release of his film Padmaavat, starring actors Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, sparked protests across India, prompting a ban in four states — Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
‘Madam of Kamathipura’
With Bhatt in the titular role, Gangubai Kathiawadi was scheduled for release on 11 September but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The crime drama is said to revolve around Gangubai’s rise as a ‘madam of Kamathipura‘, Mumbai’s red-light area, and having strong ties with the underworld during the 1960s.
Shah, who lives in Kamathipura, is one of the four children adopted by Gangubai. According to his complaint, all four were “suffering from miseries…[and] thrown, deserted, isolated and downtrodden in the society” before they were adopted.
“Ever since the promo of the film came out, rumours have spread and Shah has been harassed in his own locality. His leg was fractured from being hit. His relatives are also suffering as they are now being known as coming from a ‘prostitute family’,” Dubey told ThePrint.
The book as well as the film claims that Gangubai was a criminal with links to underworld dons like Karim Lala without any proof, Dubey added.
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