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Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi, starring Alia Bhatt, to be premiered at Berlinale

The period film will be screened as part of the festival’s special gala section ahead of its Indian release.

Our Correspondent

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022), starring Alia Bhatt, will have its premiere at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival in February.

Co-produced by Pen Studios, the period film will be screened as part of the German festival’s special gala section, dedicated to showcasing exemplary cinema, ahead of its Indian release. The films chosen for this year’s special gala have been shot during the pandemic. Against The Ice, starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau; À Propos De Joan (About Joan), starring Isabelle Huppert; and Der Passfälscher (The Forger) will also have their world premieres at the festival.

Gangubai Kathiawadi, which features Ajay Devgn in a special cameo, stars Bhatt as a young madam who rises to rule the red-light area of Kamathipura in then Bombay. Vijay Raaz, Indira Tiwari and Seema Pahwa are said to be part of the film, while Emraan Hashmi and Huma Qureshi are rumoured to have special appearances in the film as well.

This is Bhansali’s tenth feature as a director and the filmmaker completed 25 years in the industry this year. “The story of Gangubai Kathiawadi has been very close to my heart and me and my team have given it all to make this dream possible. We take pride and honour in showcasing our film at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival,” he said in a statement.

Co-producer Jayantilal Gada of Pen Studios added, “It gives me great joy that our film will be presented at the Berlin International Film Festival and I am proud to associate with Mr Bhansali. Alia has given a great performance and I am thankful to Ajay Devgn too for being a part of this project. It’s a story that will engage and appeal to global audiences.”

The festival’s artistic director Carlo Chatrian said, “We are happy to premiere Gangubai Kathiawadi and continue the tradition of the Berlin Film Festival being a special setting for Indian movies. This time with a film that joins the usual craft in shaping camera movement and the choreography of bodies with a subject that is socially relevant, not only in India. From the very beginning, we were taken by the story of Gangubai, an exceptional woman dragged into exceptional circumstances.”

This is Bhatt’s second film that is premiering at the Berlinale; earlier, Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy (2019) with Ranveer Singh as Bhatt’s co-star was screened in the same section nearly three years ago.

This year's edition will be held from 10 to 20 February 2022. Indian-born filmmaker M Night Shyamalan has been named jury president. Gangubai Kathiawadi is due to be released in theatres on 18 February 2022.

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