Indian Drama a Surprise Hit in Laos and Thailand

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Gangubai Kathiawadi with her seductive gesture

Indian biographical crime drama, Gangubai Kathiawadi, has proven a surprise hit on Netflix among viewers in Thailand and Laos.

The film, which stars Indian actress Alia Bhatt as the titular character, is based on the true story of Gangubai Harjivandas, popularly known as Gangubai Kothewali, whose life was documented in the book Mafia Queens of Mumbai written by S. Hussain Zaidi.

In the film, Kathiawadi leaves the countryside in pursuit of a better life, however, she is lured into the underworld. She is able to overcome adversity and rise to the top, championing women’s rights after becoming a successful brothel madam. 

The film’s popularity has sparked a viral trend across social media, in which Thai and Laotian fans dress in Indian attire and emulate the seductive gesture made famous by the film’s heroine.

Gangubai Kathiawadi premiered at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival on 16 February followed by its worldwide release in theatres.  It began its streaming release on Netflix on 26 April, when it became a success among viewers in Southeast Asia. 

Some controversy has surrounded the film following a court case in which a man who claimed to be the adopted son of Gangubai sought to stop the promotion of the film.

The Indian supreme court has suggested the series change its name to prevent further dispute.