Art & Entertainment

Alia Bhatt Defends The Casting Of Vijay Raaz As Raziabai in 'Gangubai Kathiawadi'

The casting of actor Vijay Razz as a trans woman in 'Gangubai Kathiawadi' was criticized by many. The movie is set to release in theatres on February 25.

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Vijay Raaz opposite Alia Bhatt
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Actress Alia Bhatt has defended cis actor Vijay Raaz's casting as a trans character in filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali's ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’. Bhatt plays the titular madam of a brothel-turned-mafia don in the film, which is set to be released on February 25, and Raaz plays Raziabai.

After the ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ trailer was released earlier this month, many people were upset that Raaz was cast in the role of a trans woman.

The casting of both actors drew criticism, but for different reasons. While Bhatt has admitted that people thought she was too young to play Gangubai, others believe that a trans actor should have been cast in the role that Raaz was given. A few people took to social media to address how transgender and homosexual actors already face a lack of opportunities and roles in Bollywood. During a recent interview, the film's lead actress, Bhatt, was asked about it.

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Bhatt was asked about the criticism directed at Raaz's casting in an interview with Deadline on the side-lines of the film's premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival. She stated, “I have heard this conversation various times for different films. While I do understand where they’re coming from, I feel like it’s up to the director and their vision. It’s not there to offend anyone, maybe the director found it interesting to have an actor like Vijay Raaz, who identifies as male, play a trans character. The audience has never seen him that way, you see the actor and the ability to transform within that person. I think that’s a better perspective, but I do understand where people are coming from.”

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In a recent interview with the Indian Express, Bhatt discussed the backlash that her own casting received, saying, “People did think that I am not right for this particular part because of the feeling it gave. Gangubai, the mafia queen, has some weight, intensity and grit to it. Because of the perception and personality, and the face that I have, people would imagine that I am cute, bubbly, young, soft, and gentle. So how can I be playing a mafia queen? I totally understand where they are coming from because I was also one of those people when I first heard the narration. I wondered whether I’ll be able to pull it off. But the big answer is that this is a director who’s been working for 25 years and he obviously has a vision. He’s not going to do things just for the heck of it.”

‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ is based on writer Hussain Zaidi's book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’. This is Bhatt’s first collaboration with Bhansali, who has previously directed films such as ‘Padmaavat’ and ‘Bajirao Mastani’. ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’, starring actors Ajay Devgn, Jim Sarbh, and Seema Pahwa, will be released in theatres next week, following numerous Covid-related delays.

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