Gangubai Kathiawadi/Kothewali Age, Death, Husband, Family, Biography & More

Quick Info→
Hometown: Kamathipura, Mumbai
Nationality: Indian
Husband: Ramnik Lal

Gangubai Kothewali

Real NameGanga Harjivandas [1]India TV
NicknameGangubai [2]India TV
Name EarnedMadam of Kamathipura [3]The New Indian Express
ProfessionBusinesswoman (Owned many brothels in Mumbai)
Famous For• Her work towards the improvement of sex workers
• Her biopic "Gangubai Kathiawadi"
Personal Life
Date of BirthYear 1939
BirthplaceKathiawad, Gujarat, India
Age (at the time of death)Not Known
HometownKamathipura, Mumbai, India
Relationships & More
Affairs/BoyfriendsRamnik Lal
Husband/SpouseRamnik Lal (Accountant)
ChildrenGangubai had adopted four children. One of her son was named Babu Rawji Shah/Babu Raoji Shah.
ParentsNames Not Known
Style Quotient
Car CollectionShe owned a Black Bentley car.

Some Lesser Known Facts About Gangubai Kathiawadi/Kothewali

  • Gangubai Kothewali was one of the most dreaded women of Mumbai’s underworld in the 60s.
  • She owned many brothels in Mumbai during the 60s.
  • Gangubai was popularly referred to as the ‘Madam of Kamathipura.’
  • She was born into a prestigious Gujarati family in Kathiawad in Gujarat.
  • She aspired to become an actress in childhood.
  • When Gaungubai was in college, she fell in love with Ramnik Lal, her father’s accountant, and ran away with him from her home.
  • Apparently, they got married to each other and relocated to Mumbai, where Ramnik sold Gangubai into prostitution for just Rs. 500.
  • The hard life of Mumbai’s Kamathipura turned Gangubai into a tough lady.
  • During that period, Kamathipura was being ruled by the popular don, Karim Lala.
  • Reportedly, Gangubai was raped by one of the goons of Karim, after which, she went to Karim and asked him for justice.
  • During her visit to Karim, Gangubai even tied a Rakhi to Karim.
  • Although Gangubai herself was a victim of the prostitution trade, she went on to become one of the most dreaded pimps of Kamathipura during the 60s.
  • Her clients included many popular underworld mafias and gangsters.
  • Despite being a brothel owner, Gangubai had a soft corner for women who were sold into prostitution. She cared for such women like a mother.
  • Gangubai once even landed into a fight with one of the significant members of a popular gang in Mumbai for a girl who was allegedly raped by him.
  • Apparently, she never forced any girl into prostitution.
  • Gangubai used to work for the betterment of the conditions of the sex workers and homeless children.
  • Gangubai had connections with many gangsters in Mumbai; as they were her regular clients.
  • Gangubai was the first women to open a franchise of brothels in different cities of the country.
  • She even peddled drugs and was reportedly behind a number of murders taking place in Mumbai and its suburbs in the 60s.
  • Gangubai once approached the then-Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, to discuss the problems faced by the sex-workers in the country.
  • Apparently, Nehru was quite impressed with her clarity of thoughts and leadership qualities.
  • Reportedly, Gangubai had thrown a proposal at Jawaharlal Nehru when Nehru asked her why she had got into the brothel business when she could have got a good husband and a job.
  • Although she lived in the poor slums of Kamathipura, Gangubai was a rich lady, and she was the only brothel owner who owned a Black Bentley in the 60s.
  • Gangubai was known to be the guardian of many dons; as she provided them with shelters.
  • Gangubai used to believe that if she had offered her body for other people’s pleasure, it didn’t give anyone the right to abuse her or downgrade her dignity.
  • Despite being a brothel women, her kind heart had won many admirers. Even today, her idols and photo frames decorate many walls in Kamathipura.
  • Her story has been included in one of the chapters of Hussain Zaidi’s book “Mafia Queens Of Mumbai.”

    Hussain Zaidi's book- Mafia Queens Of Mumbai

    Hussain Zaidi’s book- Mafia Queens Of Mumbai

  • In 2021, a film based on her life was made by the filmmaker, Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The film was titled “Gangubai Kathiawadi’ and the Bollywood actress, Alia Bhatt played the lead role in the film.

    Poster of the film Gangubai Kathiwadi

    Poster of the film Gangubai Kathiawadi

  • The film was initially offered to Priyanka Chopra who rejected it due to date clashes. Later, it was offered to Rani Mukerji who declined the offer. Ultimately, Alia Bhatt was selected for the film.
  • In April 2021, actress Alia Bhatt, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and writer Hussain Zaidi were summoned by the Mumbai High Court on the complaint of Gangubai’s adopted son, Babuji Rawji Shah. In an interview, while talking about the film, Gangubai’s family lawyer Narendra Dubey said,

    The way Gangubai was portrayed is completely wrong and baseless. It is vulgar. You are representing a social activist as a prostitute. Which family would like it? You have made her [Gangubai] a vamp and lady don.”

    Further, he talked about the case still being pending in court as the court asked Shah to produce valid proof that he was Gangubai’s son. He said,

    Although we have proved it in court, there is no hearing in this matter now.”

    He further said,

    They have been asking the family if Gangubai was really a prostitute and not a social worker as they had said. The family’s mental state is not good. No one is able to live in peace.”

  • Gangubai had a granddaughter named Bharti, the daughter of her adopted son Babuji Rawji Shah.
  • During an interview, Babuji Rawji Shah while talking about the film said,

    My mother has been turned into a prostitute. People are now saying inexplicable things about my mother.”

  • Here’s an interesting video about Gangubai Kathiawadi’s biography: