Time for some dissent amidst all the praise actor Alia Bhatt is getting for her acting in the trailer of “Gangubai Kathiawadi”, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I had a deep scowl on my face throughout the trailer. Okay, except for the part where Alia asks someone if he thinks she eats poop. That was weirdly funny for reasons that has nothing to do with the film. Anyway…
The baby-faced Alia Bhatt as a prostitute turned hardened-pimp is not quite convincing, and her accent is pretty awkward. Only the brief flashback scenes of Bhatt as a young innocent girl pushed into the flesh trade, are the ones that stir up emotions of empathy in the viewer. You feel a sense of despair, as a helpless Alia is propped against a wall, made to gesture provocatively to invite prospective customers to exploit her body. But the rest of the trailer is standard Bollywood theatrics.
You have a victim-to-hero lead in Alia, some smart-alecky scenes that are barely funny (like Alia telling a north-eastern looking dentist if he intends to put entire China in her mouth when he keeps asking her to open her mouth wider), a Sangharsh like transgender villain (played by Vijay Raaz) and then out of nowhere you have Gangubai’s mentor Karim Lala (Ajay Devgn) appearing into the scene.
Most of Alia’s scenes look like she is dressed up for play, than a historic biopic of a woman who was known as the ‘Madam of Kamathipura’, the red-light district of Mumbai. Perhaps an older actor, somebody in their mid-thirties or early 40s would’ve done more justice to the role. And it’s not like there is a dearth of older actors in the industry.
While it’s too early to judge the film by the trailer, Gangubai Kathaiwadi doesn’t look very promising. And if they picked the best scenes and dialogues for the teaser, then I have my doubts about this Bhansali production.