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Bela Bahadur creator’s mafia novel now a film

Aabid Surti’s book, Sufi, narrates tales from his childhood spent with the likes of Dawood Ibrahim, to be made into film starring Prateik Babbar and Chitrangada

entertainment Updated: May 21, 2010 13:04 IST
Jayeeta Mazumder
Jayeeta Mazumder
Hindustan Times

Author-comic writer Aabid Surti’s characters have always fascinated Bollywood. Anurag Kashyap approached him to film his famous character, Bahadur, a long time ago, but it didn’t see the light of the day due to lack of funds.

Another popular character, Inspector Azad, would have materialised if Raj Kapoor hadn’t passed away soon after giving Surti his word. Now his book,


, on the Mumbai mafia, will be adapted by director Aditya Dhar and will star Prateik Babbar and Chitrangada.

The novel, written like a biography, describes his childhood experiences in a neighbourhood called Dongri, where he grew up with Iqbal Rupani, the don who trained Dawood Ibrahim.

“This was the famous underworld locality where Karim Lala and Haji Mastan came from. I’ve seen Dawood playing

gilli danda

as a kid,” he recalls.

Set visit

Dhar says, “I didn’t choose




chose me. Rohan Sippy gave me the first transcript. We met smugglers and dons from that era and went to all the locations mentioned in the story.”

Surti has written over 80 novels, and his comic strips still have a cult following. The writer-painter-cartoonist wrote


in 1989. It will be available in English next month.

Surti interviewed Rupani for a year before writing the book. “We went to the same school, studied under the same professor and prayed at the same mosque. We lived in utter poverty. But despite all these similarities, why did he become a gangster and I, a writer?” he asks rhetorically.

RK calling

He has quite a few anecdotes to share, when asked about Raj Kapoor. It was when his famous Inspector Azad appeared in a weekly, that he got a call from RK Studios. “Raj Kapoor was fond of comics and at that time, only four installments of Daud with Inspector Azad had appeared. He predicted the whole subject when I met him first and there were 46 more installments to come. Sadly, his

Mera Naam Joker

(1970) was a flop and nobody wanted to buy


(1973). He told me that he’d start work on


after Bobby was out of the theatres. And then it became the biggest hit ever,” he says.

The deal was called off. Even though Surti was called occasionally, it was only 20 years later that he decided to get to work. “Raj Kapoor sent Dabboo (Randhir Kapoor) in a car to pick me up. On reaching the studio, I was offered money (Rs 5,000) for the first time and was told to check out the tentative posters and music, even before the film was made. After this, he left for Delhi and never came back,” he rues.

Raj Kapoor passed away in 1988.


never happened. Surti is soon to re-launch Bahadur in a snazzy format on a website. As for now, he’s excited about



First Published: May 21, 2010 12:35 IST