Babu Raoji Shah is the adopted son of renowned Indian madame and social activist Gangubai Kathiawadi.
Growing up in Kamathipura, Mumbai, in the 1960s, Babu Raoji Shah was a homeless orphan, who was adopted and raised by Gangubai Kothewali, along with several other children. All of these children lived in her small room in Kamathipura 12th Lane.
Parents & Siblings
Popularly known as the ‘Madam of Kamathipura,’ Gangubai was one of the most dreaded women of Mumbai’s underworld, who ran many brothels in the city during the 1960s.
At an early age, she flew away from her home with her boyfriend, Ramnik Lal, who, after getting married to her, sold her into prostitution. Hailing from Gujarat, Gangubai worked for the upliftment of sex workers in Kamathipura throughout her life. The children adopted by her included two daughters, Shakuntala Ranjit Kawi (now Babu Raoji Shah’s wife) and Sushila Reddy, and two sons, Babu Raoji Shah and Rajinikanth Raoji Shah.
Wife & Children
Babu Raoji Shah is married to Shakuntala Ranjit Kawi, an adopted daughter of Gangubai Kothewali. Together, they have a daughter named Bharti.
Criminal Complaint Against Sanjay Leela Bhansali
‘Gangubai Kathiawadi,’ an Indian Hindi-language biographical crime drama film loosely based on the life of Gangubai Kothewali, was released in 2022. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and starring Alia Bhatt in the lead, the film portrayed Gangubai as a prostitute, which offended Babu Raoji Shah who claimed that his mother was a social activist. Slamming the makers of the film, while addressing the media, Shah said,
My mother has been turned into a prostitute. People are now saying inexplicable things about my mother”.
Additionally, Gangubai’s family lawyer, Narendra Dubey claimed that the whole family had been in deep shock ever since the trailer of the film was released. He said,
The way Gangubai was portrayed is completely wrong and baseless. It is vulgar. You are representing a social activist as a prostitute. You have made her [Gangubai] a vamp and lady don…Since 2020, the family has been in hiding. They are shifting homes, moving to Andheri or Borivali. Many relatives have raised questions over the portrayal, asking the family if Gangubai was 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.”
Earlier in 2021, Babu Raoji Shah had filed a petition against the film in the Bombay City Civil. Simultaneously, he also filed a criminal complaint with regard to the offence for defamation, following which the High Court of Bombay had summoned Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Alia Bhatt. After the summoning, the high court refused to stay the release of the film. The court had granted an interim stay on the criminal defamation proceedings against the makers of the film, which were still pending closure in 2022.