Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali has revealed actor Alia Bhatt’s reaction after she heard the narration of Gangubai Kathiawadi for the first time. In a new interview, Bhansali said that Alia picked her bag and ‘ran out of’ his office. He also said that he told Bhansali Productions CEO Prerna Singh that they will have to look for another actor.
Gangubai Kathiawadi is helmed by Bhansali. The period film presents the story of Gangubai, one of the most powerful, loved and respected madams of Mumbai’s red-light area Kamathipura during the 1960s.
In an interview with Zoom, the director said, “The first time she heard the narration, she took her bag and ran out of my office. She was wondering what on earth hit her and what kind of role I have offered to her. She just run away. I told my CEO Prerna, listen, I think we have to look out for another actor. Because this… Well, I wanted her to play it,” he said.
The filmmaker said that the next morning, Alia called him up and said she wanted to meet him. “I said you don’t have to come and meet me personally to say no to me.” This left Alia in splits, who said that she would just do what he asked her to do:”I said jump into the unknown, even I don’t know what I will do,” he added.
Starring Alia in the titular part, the film is a biographical crime-drama, adapted from one of the chapters of noted author Hussain Zaidi’s book Mafia Queens of Mumbai. The film also stars Ajay Devgn and is scheduled to release in theatres on February 25.
On Wednesday, Bhansali spoke about the film on the sidelines of the Berlin International Film Festival where Gangubai Kathiawadi is set to have its world premiere in the Berlinale Special Gala segment.
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Addressing a press conference ahead of the film’s screening, he said, “It is a story of a woman who was trapped into being a sex worker and how she fought. How she fought for dignity for women, how she fought for the girls in the brothels to be accepted in mainstream society. She asked for legalisation of the profession and all this happened at a time when words like feminism and women empowerment were not yet coined. But I think she was way ahead of her time.”
(With PTI inputs)