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Haji Mastan Mirza
Born Cuddalore Tamil Nadu
Occupation smuggler

Haji Mastan Mirza popularly known as Haji Mastan OR Bawa; was a Bombay (Mumbai) gangster and smuggler in the 1960s and 70s. He was born in the coastal town of Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu. 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. He was also known for his links with the legendary actor Dilip Kumar.[1][2] 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. He died in Mumbai in 1994.

Haji Mastan was a Tamilian who migrated to Mumbai from Madras at the age of 17, in 1955. In fact, Tamil was the only language that he could read comfortably. He imported daily issues of Tamil newspapers in his Bombay home. Haji Mastan at first started working on docks of Bombay as a Cooli (porter), later became so powerful as to become indispensable to the political leadership of Maharashtra. After joining politics he had a 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 successful 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. The protagonist in the film, played by Amitabh Bachchan survives as long as he wears a plate with the number 786, dies at the hands of his honest brother.

To give the role authenticity, Amitabh Bachchan reportedly met Haji Mastan to study his mannerisms.

Contrary to the 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.




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