|Haji Mastan Mirza|
|Born||Mastan Haider Mirza
1 March 1926
Panaikulam, Ramanathapuram Madras Presidency, British India
|Died||1994 (aged 67–68)
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
|Residence||Mumbai, Maharashtra, India|
|Occupation||Film Producer, Film Distributor, Filmmaker, Politician|
|Children||Akhtar Ali, Nasir Mirza, Nadir Mirza|
Mastan Haider Mirza, popularly known as Haji Mastan, Bawa or Sultan Mirza (1 March, 1926 - 1994), was an Indian mobster and smuggler based in Bombay (now Mumbai) in the 1970s and 1980s. Mastan became the first celebrity gangster of the city, expanding his clout in the film industry by giving money to directors and studios for film production. As Mastan's influence in Bollywood grew, he began to produce films himself. He was also well known for his links with the 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, which had Doulatram Kawle as a co-operator. Aslam Kiratpuri, a well known journalist, gave him ideas on how to speak in public meetings after which he became a good speaker.
Haji Mastan was born Mastan Haider Mirza on March 1, 1926 in Panaikulam village near Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu.His family members live in Brampton Ontario Canada, now known as the Zuberi Family. His father, Haider Mirza, was a hard-working but impoverished farmer, who came to Mumbai after failing to make ends meet in his village. Father and son reached the city in 1934. After trying their hand at various odd jobs, they managed to set up a small shop where they repaired cycles and two-wheelers in Bengali Pura, near Crawford Market. Mastan soon realized that even after all the hard work, he could only make a meager 5 a day.
As he would walk home to his basti (ghetto) from Crawford Market, he would see the grand theatres, such as Alfred and Novelty, on South Mumbai’s Grant Road. He would stare at the cars of Mumbai’s rich and famous, their Malabar Hill bungalows, and resolved to be rich and famous himself one day.
Rise as the don of Mumbai
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The windfall came in 1956 when Mastan came in contact with Sukur Narayan Bakhia, partners and divided certain territories among themselves. Mastan handled the Mumbai port and Bakhia the Daman port. The smuggled items would come to Daman port from the Persian Gulf and to Mumbai from Aden. Mastan took care of Bakhia’s consignments.
His rise was phenomenal, but in the Emergency he was incarcerated. When he was released after 18 months in jail, he was a reformed man and surprisingly emerged a hero. During his jail term, he studied Hindi, the prominent language in Mumbai. Mastan Mirza began to introduce himself as Haji Mastan. Using the prefix of "Haji" refers to those devout Muslims who have been to Hajj in Mecca.
Haji Mastan planned his own foray into films with a project titled Mere Garib Nawaz, followed by other movies. He was a successful distributor and excelled in the cinema business.
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 excellent relationships with the who's who of Bollywood, names such as Dharmendra, Feroz Khan, Raj Kapoor and Sanjeev Kumar. Salim Khan and Amitabh Bachchan often visited him while the movie Deewar was in the pipeline. He also had many friends in the world of politics. Being a notorious smuggler, he was apprehended and jailed by agencies many time around. Although 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.
But once out of his home, Haji Mastan was a man of style. Always clad in pure white designer wear, sporting a pack of imported cigarettes in hand, Mastan used to travel in a chauffeur driven white Mercedes-Benz, a status symbol in those days.
His room used to be full of Tamil newspapers, specially flown in from Chennai as that was the only language that Mastan knew to read.
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 the Emergency. He also had close links with C. Pasupathy Pandiyan from Thoothukudi, a well known Dalit leader with criminal records, for his underworld sea contacts in southern Tamil Nadu. During the Indian Emergency (1975–77), Haji Mastan helped many Leaders escape to Tamil Nadu through C. Pasupathy Pandiyan.
After all the cases against him were disposed off, Haji Mastan never indulged in smuggling again. He floated a political party and devoted time to 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 a starlet called Sona. He financed a few films for her. He gifted her a bungalow situated near actor Dev Anand's house at Juhu. He was a lonely man and had few but staunch friends. When don Vardabhai (Varadarajan Mudaliar) died in Madras, Mastan chartered an Indian Airlines plane and brought his friend's body to Mumbai for last rites as per Vardabhai's wishes.
Haji Mastan alias Mastan Mirza died in 1994 due to cardiac arrest
In popular culture
There have been some movies in Bollywood that were inspired by his life. One of them is Once Upon a Time in Mumbai released in 2010, in which the character of Sultan Mirza was played by Ajay Devgan. Amitabh Bachchan's role in Deewar was inspired by him.
- Deeptiman Tiwary; Abhijit Sathe (July 23, 2010). "The Real Haji Mastan". Mumbai Mirror. section City, p. 10. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
- Bhattacharya, Chandrima S. (November 14, 2005). "Marilyn to Monica, don-showgirl relationships flourish". telegraphindia.com (Calcutta, India).
- "Darkside". bollywhat.com. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
- Hussain Zaidi (July 9, 2010). "The reluctant Mafioso". www.livemint.com. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- "It's not Haji Mastan's life story: Ajay". Times of India. IANS. Jul 30, 2010.