Utkarshini Vaishishtha is one of a few female screenwriters in India whose film has grossed over Rs 100 crores (over $13 million), the gold standard of Bollywood. Her work on “Gangubai Khathiawadi” has helped see it become one of the most successful Bollywood film after the pandemic. The film is also receiving rave reviews for the performance of Alia Bhatt as the titular character.
‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ is another of the long list of women-centric films made by filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who has a legacy of making films based on strong female characters. His latest offering was in the works for 10 years, but kept taking a back seat to other projects, such as “Ramleela,” “Bajirao Mastani” and “Padmaavat.”
Vashishtha, a veteran of the television world in India and the Middle East, was working on a television reality show in India after finishing film school in New York when she was introduced to Bhansali, a judge on the show. Though she was part of the production team, she dreamed of getting into scriptwriting. Bhansali got wind of her plans and gave her “Mafia Queens of Mumbai,” a book by Hussain Zaidi, and asked her to read the story of Gangubai in it.