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Gangubai Kathiawadi: The Master Is Back With A Message In A Brothel



Alia bhatt in Gangubai Kathiawadi

The  eagerly awaited  trailer  of  Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi  demonstrates   the  director’s  unbridled epic vision to ample advantage .

This time the  setting is the infamous badnaamon ki basti(the  slum of the infernals)  Kamathipura ,where Guru Dutt and  Shah Rukh Khan  have earlier stumbled sozzled  in Pyaasa  and  Devdas(the latter, again directed by Bhansali) ; and  going by the art direction, this is  going to be be one of the  most dazzling recreations  of  Asia’s biggest redlight area  .

The film though located in a sleazy part of the universe,  wears a  look of  grimy grandeur.If that sounds  like an oxymoron  then  you don’t know Bhansali’s cinema. He can  make sleaze  look sublime. The high-drama as seen in the  tumultuous  trailer    is played out against  a spectacular background score(by the  director himself) .

The performances, not only Alia Bhatt’s  but also  Ajay Devgan’s and Vijay Raaz’s are powered by high-definition rhetorics.But this  is  demonstrably  Alia Bhatt’s show. She  strides across the  lavish  frames  like  a lioness and roars against her enemies with  a chilling  restraint. From what we see  of MS  Bhatt , she echoes Shabana Azmi’s gangster-politician act from Vinay Shukla’s Godmother with a customized  credibility.

Though she  plays a  gangster in  Gangubai Kathiawadi, Alia Bhatt doesn’t resort to one  swear  word , not one  reference  to a mother’s or a sister’s anatomy. And yet there is  something  inherently  menacing in  Alia’s transformation  from the  angelic  parts she has  played so far(even the  spy  in Raazi  seemed shy to hurt a fly , even if  the fly was Pakistani) .

Alia is  intrinsically  goodnatured and sophisticated. To  get her to be fully into this  boorish backstreet mode of a badass  brothel siren is  no easy matter.Alia  seems  to get  into the  accent, body  language  and her space in the period  pace  comfortably.

In the livewire editing evident  in the lucid  riveting trailer,  the  mesmeric photography  merging the  mobocracy  of  the  1960s in Mumbai’s redlight area  Kamathipura  with the   autocracy of one  woman who dared to  have more balls  that her  male criminal  colleagues.

A special word  of praise for two  other  actors  prominently visible  in the trailer:  Ajay Devgan whose Karim Lala act  seems suave  and restrained, just the way he always does it.  Devgan plays it cool.As for Vijay  Raaz’s trans-gender pimp’s  act, is there  anything that this  actor can’t do?

Ditto Bhansali. The  Gangubai Kathiawadi trailer proves Bhansali   has come a  long way, far removed, from Khamoshi,  Hum…Dil De Chuke Sanam ,Devdas and  Bajirao Mastani. In the trailer he  makes the dark look  desirable.

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