Organised crime in India

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Indian Mafia
Founding location India
Territory India, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, U.A.E, Vietnam, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Germany, France, United Kingdom
Criminal activities drug trafficking, arms trafficking, counterfeiting, extortion, contract killing, terrorism, corruption, hijacking, robbery, illegal gambling, money laundering, goldsmuggling, kidnapping and murder

Organised Crime in India may be associated with criminal organisations such as those categorised as being part of the Indian Mafia. The term 'Indian Mafia' can be utilised as a designation for any mafia 'syndicate' which orchestrates sophisticated criminal activities based in India.[1][2] The term 'Indian Mafia' can, however, also refer to powerful families that have criminal aspects to it.[3]

Indian organized crime groups[edit]


The D-Company is the name given to the organized crime group controlled by Dawood Ibrahim. It has been argued that the D-Company is not a stereotypical organized crime cartel in the strict sense of the word, but rather a collision of sole criminal and terrorist groups based around Dawood Ibrahim's personal.[4][5]


India is a major transit point for heroin from the Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent en route to Europe. India is also the world's largest legal grower of opium, and experts estimate that 5–10% of the legal opium is converted into illegal heroin and 8–10% is consumed in high quantities as concentrated liquid. The pharmaceutical industry is also responsible for a lot of illegal production of mandrax, much of which is smuggled into South Africa. Diamond smuggling via South Africa is also a major criminal activity, and diamonds are also sometimes used to disguise shipments of heroin. Finally, a lot of money laundering takes place in the country, mostly through the use of the traditional hawala system, although India has criminalised money laundering as of 2003.[6] [7]

Indian mafia in popular culture[edit]

Crime films revolving around the Indian mafia, particularly the Mumbai underworld, have been common in Indian cinema since the 1950s, evolving into a distinct genre known as Mumbai noir in the late 1990s.[8] The genre has its origins in the 1950s, with the Raj Kapoor films Awaara (1951) and Shree 420 (1955) being some of the earliest films involving the Mumbai underworld. In the 1960s, Shakti Samanta's China Town (1962), starring Shammi Kapoor and Helen, dealt with the criminal underworld that existed in Chinatown, Kolkata, at the time. It was the earliest film to introduce the plot element of a look-alike working as an undercover agent impersonating a gangster, an idea that was used again Don (1978) and many later films inspired by it.[9]

In the 1970s and early 1980s, many of the most well-known classic Bollywood movies were based around themes of fighting criminals and corruption at a time when crime was rising and authorities were powerless. Classic Amitabh Bachchan films depicted the underworld and the protagonists attempting to overcome it, including Prakash Mehra's Zanjeer (1972), Yash Chopra's Deewar (1975), Manmohan Desai's Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Chandra Barot's Don (1978) and Vijay Anand's Ram Balram (1980). In particular, Deewar, which Danny Boyle described as being “absolutely key to Indian cinema”, was a crime film pitting "a policeman against his brother, a gang leader based on real-life smuggler Haji Mastan", portrayed by Bachchan.[10] Most Bollywood crime movies at the time were fairly unrealistic with the masala style of action and plots. In Parallel Cinema on the other hand, the Calcutta trilogies of Bengali film directors Mrinal Sen and Satyajit Ray, particularly the 1976 film Jana Aranya (The Middleman), dealt with the Calcutta underworld in a more realistic manner.

In the late 1980s, Parallel Cinema filmmakers began producing more realistic Bombay underworld films, with an early example being Mani Ratnam's Tamil film, Nayagan (1987), based on the life of the Bombay don, Varadarajan Mudaliar, portrayed by Kamal Haasan. Nayagan was included in Time Magazine's "All-Time 100 Best Films" list, issued in 2005.[11] I The Bombay underworld was also depicted in Mira Nair's Academy Award nominated Hindi film Salaam Bombay! (1988). The underworld was also depicted in several other National Film Award winning films, including Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Parinda (1989) starring Anil Kapoor, Mukul S. Anand's Agneepath (1990) starring Bachchan, and Sudhir Mishra's Dharavi (1991) starring Anil Kapoor and Om Puri.

In the late 1990s, Ram Gopal Varma's Satya (1998) marked the introduction of a new genre of film making, Mumbai noir, of which he is the acknowledged master.[8] The critical and commercial success of Satya led to an increased emphasis on realism in later Mumbai underworld films. Varma's next Mumbai noir film was Company (2002), based on the D-Company, a real-life mafia syndicate. Satya and Company both gave "slick, often mesmerizing portrayals of the Mumbai underworld", and displayed realistic "brutality and urban violence."[10] Satya won six Filmfare Awards, including the Critics Award for Best Film, while Company won seven Filmfare Awards. A prequel to Company was released in 2005, entitled D (2005), produced by Varma and directed by Vishram Sawant. Varma's three films Satya, Company and D are together considered an "Indian Gangster Trilogy".[7] Varma also directed an Indian adaptation of The Godfather novel in a Mumbai underworld setting, called Sarkar (2005), and has more recently filmed an original sequel called Sarkar Raj (2008). Another film Sarfarosh, starring Aamir Khan deals with cross-border arms smuggling, and the criminal elements within India that are involved with it, including the Mumbai mafia.

Mahesh Manjrekar's Vaastav: The Reality (1999) is another film that depicts the Indian mafia. Anurag Kashyap's Black Friday (2004) is based on S. Hussein Zaidi's book of the same name about the 1993 Bombay bombings, which involved the underworld organization, the D-Company.[10] Vishal Bhardwaj's Maqbool (2004) and Omkara (2006) are modern-day Indian mafia interpretations of the William Shakespeare plays Macbeth and Othello, respectively. Farhan Akhtar's Don - The Chase Begins Again (2006) is a remake of Barot's original 1978 Don with Shahrukh Khan taking Bachchan's place in the title role. Apoorva Lakhia's Shootout at Lokhandwala (2007) is based on a real-life 1991 incident involving Commissioner Aftab Ahmed Khan and the Lokhandwala Complex. Waaris (2008) is an Indian television series on Zee TV with the Indian mafia as its background. The Mumbai underworld has also been depicted in Madhur Bhandarkar's Traffic Signal (2007) and Rajeev Khandelwal's Aamir (2008).

Danny Boyle's Academy Award winning film Slumdog Millionaire (2008), based on Vikas Swarup's Boeke Prize winning novel Q & A (2005), has also portrayed the Indian mafia, under the influence of earlier Mumbai noir films.[12] Boyle has cited previous Bollywood portrayals of the Mumbai underworld in Deewar, Satya, Company and Black Friday as direct influences on the film.[10][13] Indian mafia was widely portrayed in 2009 Bollywood's 2009 critically acclaimed film Kaminey.

Gregory David Roberts's Shantaram novel, also features the Indian mafia in its storyline.

Bollywood connections[edit]

The Indian mafia is heavily involved in the Mumbai-based Bollywood film industry, providing films with funding and using them as fronts for other activities. It is rumoured that Dawood Ibrahim controls the film industry, and actors of other religious faiths are forced with threats to give way for his supporters. Although in recent times police investigations have forced mobsters to make their activities more subtle, for most of Bollywood's existence stars openly displayed their mafia connections, attending parties with mafia dons and using their help to gain new roles.[14]

See also[edit]