Haji Mastan Mirza popularly known as Haji Mastan OR bawa; was a famous Bombay (Mumbai) gangster and smuggler in the 1960s and 70s. Mastan became the first celebrity gangster of the city, expanding his clout in the Bollywood. As Mastan's influence in Bollywood grew, he began to produce films and he had a Dynamic and Enduring personality He was also known for his links with the legendary actor Dilip Kumar. During the Indian Emergency (1975 - 77) he was imprisoned, in prison he learned Hindi. Haji Mastan became a Muslim leader in 1984. He formed Dalit Muslim Surakhsha Maha Sangh in 1985-86. Aslam Kiratpuri a well known journalist, gave him ideas how to speak in public meetings after which he became a good speaker. In the year 1994 he died in Mumbai. Haji Mastan is a Tamilian who migrated to Mumbai from Madras at the age of 17 , in 1955. He started working on docks as a Cooli(porter) later became so powerful as to become indispensable to the Political leadership of Maharashtra. After joining politics he had long list of fan followers. Haji Mastan planned his own foray into films with a project titled Mere Garib Nawaz and followed by other movies, He was a sucessful distributor and he excelled in cinema business.. Deewar (1975 film) - a well recognized film in Bollywood's crime genre - is based on the life of Haji Mastan. Unlike real life, the protagonist in the film, who survived as long as he bore a plate with the number 786 which is significant to Islam, dies at the hands of his honest brother. To give the role authenticity, Amitabh Bachchan reportedly (by whom?) met Haji Mastan to study his mannerisms. Contrary to general belief, Haji Mastan Mirza was never an underworld don or even a goon for that matter. He was a smuggler and a shrewd man who rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty of his era. Be it Karim Lala or Varadarajan Mudaliar, Dilip Kumar or Shashi Kapoor, he had friends from the world of politics. To an extent, he was a simple man at home, with bare minimum needs and facilities. Though he possessed a huge mansion in a posh locality off Peddar Road, opposite Sophia College, he virtually lived his life in a small room built on the terrace of his bungalow. He worshipped the sea and had a clear view of the ocean from his terrace abode. But once out of his home, Haji Mastan was a man of style. Always clad in pure white designer wear, a pack of imported cigarettes in hand, Mastan used to travel in a chauffeur driven Mercedes-Benz, a status symbol in those days. He made millions through smuggling gold, silver and electronic goods and was once arrested and detained under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities (COFEPOSA) Act during Emergency.He was attending a procedural hearing along with fellow smuggler Yusuf Patel and two others. After all the cases against him were disposed off, Haji Mastan never indulged in smuggling again. He floated a political party , the Bharatiya Minorities Suraksha Mahasangh and devoted time in holding periodic meetings with the poor and the needy in the minority community-dominated localities of south Mumbai and held public rallies at Mastan Talao near Nagpada police station. He also joined hands with anti-drug abuse activists like Dr Yusuf Merchant and implored the youth to stay away from killer drugs. In the meantime, he courted a few Bollywood starlets and even tied the knot with one. He gifted her a bungalow situated near Dev Anand's house at Juhu. He was a lonely man and had few but staunch friends. No wonder that when don Vardabhai died in Chennai, Mastan chartered an Indian Airlines' plane and brought his friend's body to Mumbai for last rites as was wished by Vardabhai.
Harare Sports Club, Harare ,10/9/2015, 13:00 (IST)
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