Varadarajan Mudaliar

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Varadarajan Mudaliar
Born 1926
Tuticorin, Madras Presidency, British India
Died 2 January 1988(1988-01-02)

Varadarajan Muniswami Mudaliar (1926 – 2 January 1988), also known as Vardhabhai, was an Indian gangster. For two decades from early 1960s to 1980s, he was one of the most powerful mob bosses in Bombay along with Haji Mastan and Karim Lala.[1]

Underworld career[edit]

Varadarajan was born in Thoothukudi, Madras Presidency in 1926.[2] He moved to Bombay in the early 1960s. Working as a porter at VT Station, he began his crime life by distributing illicit liquor.[3] In association with Haji Mastan, who had by then established a smuggling operation at Bombay Port Docks, he ventured into stealing dock cargo.[4] He later diversified into contract killings, narcotics trade and land encroachment[5][citation needed]. Through the seventies, Varadarajan controlled the criminal operations in east and north central Mumbai, Karim Lala held sway in south and central Mumbai and most smuggling and illegal construction financing was managed by Haji Mastan[citation needed].

He ran a parallel judicial system within Tamil community. His word prevailed in Matunga and Dharavi areas, where Tamils were in majority.[citation needed]

Mumbai was ruled by the trio Haji Mastan, Karim Lala and Varadarajan Mudaliar. The trio has the solid backing of their communities. Their word was law for the people belonging to their communities.

But by mid-1980s the police officer Y.C.Pawar targeted Varadarajan Mudaliar. Most of his gang members were eliminated or imprisoned. Varadarajan Mudaliar fled from Mumbai to Chennai.

Personal life[edit]

While a porter at CST Station, Varadarajan began offering food to the poor at the nearby dargah of Bismillah Shah Baba and kept the tradition up as his fortunes rose.[6]

His opulent pandals at Matunga station during the annual Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were quite famous and visited by celebrities.[7] However, after the collapse of the cotton mills in Mumbai in the mid-1980s, their relevance ended[citation needed].

Varadarajan died in Chennai on 2 January 1988 due to a heart attack. Haji Mastan brought his body to Mumbai in a chartered Indian Airlines plane for last rites[8] as per Varda's wishes[citation needed].Many people mourned his death. Life came to a standstill in Dharavi, Matunga and Sion Koliwada when his body was flown into the city[citation needed].

In popular culture[edit]

In 1987, Mani Ratnam made his film Nayagan, based on Varadarajan's life. Actor Kamal Hassan played the lead role.[9]

The 1988 Hindi movie Dayavan, starring Vinod Khanna was a Hindi adaptation of Nayagan.

One of the characters in the 1991 Malayalam film Abhimanyu, which was based on the Mumbai underworld activities, holds resemblance to Muthaliar with the character's name being the same.

In a television interview, Amitabh Bachchan stated that he modeled his dialogues and mannerisms in the movie Agneepath after Varadarajan's.[10]

In the 2013 Tamil movie Thalaiva, Sathyaraj's character is mainly extracted from Varadarajan's life. Vijay played the lead and as Sathyaraj's son.

In the 2015 Tamil movie Yagavarayinum Naa Kaakka, starring Mithun Chakraborty a character is mainly extracted from Varadarajan's life.


  1. ^ Zaidi, p. 32.
  2. ^ Zaidi, p. 20.
  3. ^ Zaidi, pp. 22-23.
  4. ^ Zaidi, p. 30.
  5. ^ Zaidi, p. 25.
  6. ^ Zaidi, p. 22.
  7. ^ Zaidi, p. 31.
  8. ^ India Today 1988: "When he died of a heart attack on 2 January, Haji Mastan - underworld king from whom he allegedly inherited a vast smuggling operation — flew to Madras to accompany his body to Bombay in a chartered Indian Airlines jet."
  9. ^ The Hindu 2012-10-20.
  10. ^ Times of India 2011-07-03.