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Gangubai Kathiawadi came into being in three days, says Utkarshini Vashishtha

The screenwriter spoke about her journey of being part of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film on the online conversational platform Khul Ke.

Our Correspondent

Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022) writer Utkarshini Vashishtha recently joined the RoundTable with moderator Priyanka Sharma on the conversational platform Khul Ke, which is available as a mobile app, and spoke about her experience penning the screenplay of the Alia Bhatt starrer.

Also known for writing Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013) and Sarbjit (2016), Vashishtha revealed that her journey with Gangubai began almost 12 years ago.

Vashishtha first met Bhansali on the sets of a television show where he was a judge and she was part of the creative team. The director had taken an immediate liking to her and would make her rewrite all his lines. An avid writer, Vashishtha connected with Bhansali soon after and expressed her desire to pursue this passion.

“I met Sanjay Sir and told him about my interest in writing for films. He handed me a book and told me to read 30 pages in the other room,” said the writer, who then spent two hours and ended up reading the entire book from cover to cover.  Intrigued, Bhansali then went on to test her writing skills and asked her to write 10 scenes. “When I went back to meet him with what I had written, he was pleasantly surprised and exclaimed, ‘You can write!’ This was when Ram-Leela was being shot,” added Vashishtha.

For Vashishtha, Gangubai came into being in three days, when she locked herself up completely and wrote the first draft of the film. “It was in the next 28 days that the screenplay was written, the fastest ever for any Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. I am so glad that the film was finally made,” Vashistha said.

Speaking about the challenges she faced while writing the film, the marketing professional-turned-screenplay writer said, “As a writer, the most difficult scene for me in the film was the very first of the shot where Gangubai says, ‘Mujhe jaane do, uncle’ at the funeral of Kamli. I wept to imagine a young girl being dragged by an ‘uncle’ into a brothel.”

In Vashishtha’s opinion, nobody other than Bhatt could have portrayed Gangubai with so much conviction. “We used to call her Amitabh Bachchan on the set because of the command she had over herself and the character.”

Vashishtha’s next project is slated to be released on Disney+ Hotstar in 2023.