Once upon a Time Ajay Devgan and Haji Mastan


MUMBAI: Haji Mastan Mirza has been a legendary figure in the Mumbai Under-world. His meteoric rise from the footpaths of Musafir-khana, Crawford Market in Mumbai to the seat of uncrowned King of the Mumbai Mafia and Under-world Don have inspired many writers as well as film-makers throughout.

In his own time, some film makers tried to capture his extra-ordinary story and make films on his assumed life. But nothing was official about these being biographies.

Amitabh Bachchan in a still from Deewar

‘DEEWAR’, the 1975 hit starring Amitabh Bachchan & written by Salim-Javed, the most sought after writers of the 1970’s & 1980s, was loosely based on the struggling life and smuggling activities of Haji Mastan. DEEWAR became a super hit and film makers started manipulating Haji Mastan’s life history or namesake life history as ‘MASALA Content’ for making a super hit film. It is indeed a fact that people like to read about underworld figures, as they feel their lives are larger than life.

People feel the so called life stories of Mafia Don’s or under-world figures like Haji Mastan, Karm Lala, Vardha Rajan, Dawood Ibrahim as legendary being out of the reach of common people. This common perception about the lives of underworld figures still persist.

Thus after the deaths of these under-world figures from the past era, the new generations still seem to feel any story, portrayed as the life history of past mafia Dons, as legendary. This may be the reason that films after films are being churned out by Bollywood, unofficially claiming through media reports  that these are based on true stories of gangsters and gang-war’s of 1970’s and 1980’s.

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Ajay Devgn as Haji Mastan Mirza in ‘Once Upon a Time in Mumbai’

One of the most prominent feature, these films depicting the Mumbai-mafia carry is larger than life portrait of Haji Mastan Mirza. ‘Once Upon a Time in Mumbai’, the 2010 Bollywood hit movie had Ajay Devgan playing the role of ‘Sultan Mirza’, a character inspired from Haji Mastan Mirza’s life.

A series of movies followed based on the lives of gangsters and under-world character’s like Shootout at Lokhandwala, Shootout at Wadala, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobara, with the recent being ‘Raees’ starring Shahrukh Khan whereas another movie ‘Daddy’, based on the life story of Under-world Don Arun Gawli starring Arjun Rampal as Gawli will soon hit theatres.

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Arun Gawli (L), Arjun Rampal (R) in a Poster of the movie ‘Daddy’, based on Gawli’s Life

Many such films, which unofficially claim to depict life and history of under-world characters like Haji Mastan hit silver screen and become instant hit. This is triggering a series of films of this genre.

The film-makers have taken liberty not to claim that these films are based on real facts, so they are distorting the real life stories to any extent.

But majority of cine-goers, most of them youth who flock to theaters believe these stories as true biographies. So a time will come when Haji Mastan Mirza’s life history will become a drama like “Mughal-e-Azam“ or the love story of Salim and Anarkali, where fiction prevails over facts.

But Bollywood is not worried as they sell whatever is the demand of the market. As of now any story loosely described as life story of Haji Mastan or any other under-world don is being sold as hot cake.

So bollywood is minting money in the name of Haji Mastan and churning out fiction in the name of biography.



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