Actresses who played sex-workers on screen

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Alia Bhatt has blown fans away with the teaser of her upcoming film, ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ where she plays one of the famous madams from the brothels of Kamathipura. However, this is not the first time that Bollywood has turned its attention to red light areas. From Kareena Kapoor Khan in ‘Chameli’ to Vidya Balan in ‘Begum Jaan’, many Bollywood leading ladies have taken up the challenging job of playing a sex-worker on screen.

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02/7Alia Bhatt in ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’

Alia Bhatt plays the gritty madam of a brothel in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’, which chronicles the life of Gangubai who was sold into prostitution but went on to become one of the most revered and powerful women in Mumbai by building ties with the underworld and working for the uplifting of women and orphans in the red light area of Kamathipura.

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03/7Kareena Kapoor Khan in ‘Chameli’

Kareena Kapoor Khan played the role of a woman who was sold off into the flesh trade as a young girl by her uncle in ‘Chameli’. The actress is shown to be a tough woman and has a strong philosophy in life with which she is able to positively influence the character of Rahul Bose, who is suffering depression after his pregnant wife’s death. Kareena received a lot of appreciation for the role and also bagged a Filmfare award for the same. Bebo also played a sex worker in Aamir Khan-starrer ‘Talaash’.

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04/7Vidya Balan in ‘Begum Jaan’

Vidya Balan played the role of a sultry brothel owner in ‘Begum Jaan’, a story of survival set against the backdrop of the Partition. The film that narrated the story of the life, love and loss of sex workers was the Hindi adaptation of Srijit Mukerji’s critically-acclaimed Bengali outing ‘Rajkahini’. Talking about her character, Vidya had told a news portal that she loved the story and most importantly Begum Jaan’s character just grabbed her. She just wanted to play her.

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05/7Rani Mukerji in ‘Laaga Chunari Mein Daag’

Although Rani Mukerji played the role of Gulabji in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Saawariya’, she was more appreciated for her performance in ‘Laaga Chunari Mein Daag’. The film is a heart-wrenching tale of a young woman who leaves her family in Varanasi to get a job and provide for them, but ends up as a high-profile escort in Mumbai. The story very strongly portrays the difficulties that a woman has to go through while looking for work and the cruelty of the city that turns her into a prostitute.

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06/7Kalki in ‘Dev D’

Anurag Kashyap’s contemporary adaptation of ‘Devdas’ titled, ‘Dev D’ had Kalki Koechlin playing the role of college student Leni who transforms into a high-profile escort Chanda at night. ‘Dev D’ shed light on the modern-day phenomena that drag regular women to sex work.

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07/7Neha Dhupia in ‘Julie’

The sequel to the 2006 movie ‘Julie’, starring Neha Dhupia was released in 2016. The actress played the titular character, who becomes distressed when she is dumped by her boyfriend. She then moves to Mumbai where she hopes to start afresh. However, she is sexually abused by her boss and later meets a multi-millionaire who falls in love with her. He proposes to her but his family has no idea that she is a prostitute.

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