Real-life gangsters have always fascinated Bollywood, whether it was Amitabh Bachchan’s 1975 film Deewar (said to be based on Haji Mastan) or 1990’s Agneepath (apparently modelled on Manya Surve’s life). The mob film genre has grown with films like Vaastav (1999, believed to be loosely based on Chota Rajan), Company (2002, inspired by Dawood Ibrahim), Shootout At Lokhandwala (2007, based on Maya Dolas’ life) and Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai (2010, inspired by Mastan and Dawood’s lives), making dreaded dons a filmmaker’s favourite subject.
Interestingly, Bachchan’s character, Vijay in Deewar is believed to be one of the first real-life inspired gangsters in Hindi cinema. In the Yash Chopra classic, Big B’s character — a dock worker-turned-don — is said to have taken cues from Haji Mastan’s life. Deewar writer Salim Khan and Bachchan often visited Mastan while the film was was being shot, making people believe that the duo took inputs from the real-life don. Now, a new crop of gangster films is in the pipeline. Here’s what to watch out for.
Film: Shootout At Wadala Character’s name: Manya Surve Inspiration: Manya Surve What’s the big deal: John gets into the gangster mould for the first time to play Manya with Sanjay Gupta’s prequel to Shootout At Lokhandwala. Before the shoot started, John worked extensively on his physique, body language and lingo (chaste Marathi) to get the correct nuances to play Dawood Ibrahim’s one-time rival. Manya’s encounter in 1982 with the police is the city’s first recorded encounter killing. Our word: Industry Insiders have had their apprehensions about John carrying off such a gritty role, but his impressive outing in Force (2011) inspires confidence that he can deliver.
Film: Yet untitled Character’s name: Sarman Munja Jadeja Inspiration: Sarman Munja Jadeja What’s the big deal: Dutt has played the role of an underworld don to perfection in films like Aatish (1994), Vaastav (1999), Jung (2000) and Plan (2004). And when the actor says that he has spent the last 15 years discussing and researching real-life gangster Jadeja’s life, viewers are bound to get interested. Munja was also known as the Robin Hood of Gujarat. Vivek Oberoi’s possible inclusion in director Soham Shah’s film is likely to add fireworks. Our word: Not many Will doubt Dutt’s acting prowess, considering he is the one who started it all in Bollywood, with his powerful performance in Vaastav.
Film: Yet untitled Character’s name: Dawood Ibrahim Inspiration: Dawood Ibrahim What’s the big deal: A few days ago, Vivek was in the news over a fracas about turning down the role of Dawood in Shootout at Wadala. However, by next year, the actor is expected to begin work on what will be the first biopic of Dawood. Interestingly, he is also playing a “loveable” gangster in Kumar Taurani’s Jayanta Bhai. Aside from these, Vivek might also be seen with Dutt in the Sarman Munja film. He started his career by playing Chandu Nagre, based on Chhota Rajan in Ram Gopal Varma’s Company (2002), followed by the menacing Maya Dolas in Shootout At Lokhandwala (SAL). Our word: Vivek is arguably the next best Bet, after Dutt, to get into the gangster mode, considering he has proved his worth in films such as Company and SAL.
Film: Shootout At Wadala Character’s name: Dawood Ibrahim Inspiration: Dawood Ibrahim What’s the big deal: When things didn’t work out with Vivek, Sonu was immediately roped in to play the dreaded gangster, opposite Manya Surve (played by John). For the first time ever in Bollywood, Sanjay Gupta’s characters — inspired by real life people — use the the same names as the people they were inspired by, including Dawood. Since Manya and Dawood were rivals in the ’70s, the film promises to bring out a completely new angle to gang rivalry. Our word: We’re waiting to see how Sonu, who has excelled in bad boy roles in the south and in Dabangg (2010), performs as the dangerous gangster.
Film: Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai 2 Character’s name: Shoaib Khan Inspiration: Dawood Ibrahim What’s the big deal: Although the filmmakers have denied it, Akki’s role in the film is believed to have taken cues from Dawood’s life. Director Milan Luthria, though, has admitted that Akshay’s character will show the softer and more romantic side of a gangster, instead of focusing on blood and gore. And with Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha, don’t be surprised if the film is interspersed with a love triangle. Our word: Akshay has never gotten into the gangster mould before. But since his character won’t be an archetypal gangster, we can expect a completely new depiction of Dawood.
Film: Captain Character’s name: Unknown Inspiration: Abu Salem What’s the big deal: Written and to be directed by debutant Navneet Behl, the film promises to trace the outlaw’s journey from obscurity to notoriety, over a short period of time. Salem, believed to be involved in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and the murder of music magnate Gulshan Kumar in 1997, hasn’t yet hit the big screen, like other real-life inspirations such as Dawood and Haji Mastan. Our word: Since Nikhil is yet to prove himself even in lighter roles, there’s a question mark over his ability to carry off a challenging part like Salem’s.