Did Jawaharlal Nehru and Gangubai Kathiawadi Know Each Other?

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Jawaharlal Nehru and Gangubai Kathiawadi: Ever since the teaser for the Alia Bhatt-starrer Gangubai Kathiawadi dropped, there has been much intrigue around the legendary sex worker’s life in 1960s Bombay. At the height of her prominence, Gangubai had transformed from a prostitute in Kamathipura to a key player in the city’s crime network.

The Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial set for a July release this year is based on former journalist Hussain Zaidi’s 2011 novel Mafia Queens of Mumbai. Zaidi in his book has tracked 13 stories about gangster women in Mumbai, one of whom was Gangubai.

History goes that the notorious Gangubai had even met India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and laid forward some very interesting proposals to him. Though the teaser doesn’t mention the relationship between Nehru and Gangubai Kathiawadi, here’s what we know about their meeting.

5 Things On The Nehru And Gangubai Kathiawadi Connect:

1. Gangubai Kathiawadi was a sex worker, gangster and businesswoman operating a sex racket in the Hera Mandi red light district. She famously owned a brothel in Kamathipura of Mumbai and rose to prominence in the 1960s, navigating the city’s underworld.

2. Despite her involvement in the big bad, Gangubai was a champion of the rights of sex workers and, having lived that life herself, upheld that prostitutes at her brothel should live with dignity.

3. Zaidi writes that this was one of the points she touched upon when her popularity cleared the way for her to meet Prime Minister Nehru. She reportedly asked him to address the issues of sex workers and prostitution at a national level in his speeches.

4. Impressing upon the need to secure equal rights and honourable living for women in the sex industry, Gangubai requested the politician to introduce steps that would bring reform in the way these women were perceived and treated.

5. Interestingly, it is reported that Gangubai even offered to marry Nehru. During their meeting when Nehru asked why she chose this line of work, Gangubai promptly replied she would leave that world behind if the Prime Minister assented to marry her. Nehru was taken aback by her response, which is exactly what Gangubai had aimed for since the life she had thus acquired had become her whole heart, soul and identity.

Watch the teaser for Gangubai Kathiawadi here