New Delhi/Mumbai: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi starring Alia Bhatt is set to have its world premiere at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival next year and the filmmaker said he is honoured to showcase his movie at the festival.

The festival organisers on Wednesday announced that Bhansali’s movie is the sole Indian selection and one of the four films confirmed for the Berlinale Special Gala, a segment which is dedicated to showcase exemplary cinema.

Berlin International Film Festival, one of the world’s largest public film festivals and an indispensable forum for the global film community, will be held from February 10 to February 20, 2022.

Gangubai Kathiawadi is a crime-drama, adapted from one of the chapters of noted author Hussain Zaidi’s book, Mafia Queens of Mumbai .

The magnum opus features Bhatt in the title role of Gangubai, one of the most powerful, loved and respected madams from Kamathipura during the 1960s.

After the 2019 musical drama “Gully Boy”, the upcoming film marks Bhatt’s second outing at the Berlinale.

Bhansali, who completed 25 years in the world of cinema in 2021, said Gangubai Kathiawadi is a special film for him.

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, the 58-year-old director said in a statement.

Jayantilal Gada of Pen Studios, who is producing the movie alongside Bhansali Productions, said the team is immensely elated with their film being presented at the upcoming prestigious festival.

I believe in Mr. Bhansali and his craft and I am proud to associate with him. 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, Gada added.

Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian of Berlinale said they are happy to have the world premiere of Gangubai Kathiawadi at the gala and continue the tradition of the 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, Chatrian said.

The film also stars Seema Pahwa and has cameo appearances by Ajay Devgn and Huma Qureshi.

Produced by Bhansali and Gada, Gangubai Kathiawadi is set to be released theatrically on February 18 next year.

According to the gala’s official website, other films in the Berlinale Special line-up are: “Against the Ice”, ” propos de Joan (About Joan)”, and “Der Passf lscher (The Forger)”.

“Against the Ice”, a joint production of Iceland, the USA and Denmark, is directed by Peter Flinth. It features “Game of Thrones” stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Charles Dance, “Peaky Blinders” actor Joe Cole, and “Poldark” actor Heida Reed.

” propos de Joan (About Joan)” is directed by Laurent Larivi re and stars French cinema icon Isabelle Huppert, “Matilda” actor Lars Eidinger, and “By the Grace of God” star Swann Arlaud. The film is a joint production of France, Germany and Ireland.

Directed by Maggie Peren, “Der Passf lscher (The Forger)” comes from Germany and Luxembourg. “Dark” star Louis Hofmann, Jonathan Berlin of “The Third King” fame, and “Biohackers” breakout star Luna Wedler.

“Le ch ne (Heart of Oak)” from France directed by Laurent Charbonnier and Michel Seydoux; “1341 Framim Mehamatzlema Shel Micha Bar-Am (1341 Frames of Love and War)” from Israel, the UK and the USA, and directed by Ran Tal, and Jason Kohn’s “Nothing Lasts Forever” from the USA are among the documentary films that are part of the Berlinale Special list.

“The pandemic has created distances – not only between people but also the way we see the world. Amongst the 2022 selection are films shot during the pandemic, reflecting on how it feels to be disconnected from others. It is with this first batch of films that we want to highlight the power of cinema as a tool that connects people, places and times ahead,” Chatrian added.

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