Is Haji Mastaan really dead….?
Don’t gasp! It is a question worth asking. People still speculate whether Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson are really, really dead. Seriously. Some charismatic individuals generate this kind of macabre debate. Haji Mastaan, with his larger-than-life reputation, and a very colourful romantic history continues to generate a lot of comment…. a lot of fear. His money! His molls! His power!Everybody still quakes. Particularly people in Bollywood. People who are still indebted to him. Maybe owe him money to this day. They are the ones who live in dread… afraid of that midnight knock … the pre-dawn call from the Don himself…perhaps masked men at their doorstep growling, “ Paisey wapas do…. varna…” It was always the ‘varna’ that made the victims’ blood run cold. And there was no dearth of ‘varnas’ during Haji Mastaan’s reign. All it took was one nazar, one ishaara… and Bollywood Biggies scrambled to do the Don’s bidding.
Haji Mastaan is alive and well…. and still operating out of Mumbai \ Dubai. That’s the verdict on the street. The ‘original’ may have died years ago, but Mastaan’s legacy lives on. Not very much has changed when it comes to funny money in movies. People talk about the corporatisation of Bollywood. Yes, it is underway. But let’s remind ourselves that there was a time, not so long ago, when even Hollywood was run by Mafia bosses. It took four decades and a great deal of concerted effort to clean up the system there. Bollywood is trailing, but only by a few years . Mafia and the molls have since become a staple of Hollywood hits from that era. In India, we are just about waking up to the richness of the material. If ‘Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai’ manages to recreate the menace and magic of the Mastaan years , a fresh generation of movie goers will get a taste of what used to happen each time Hajibhai decided he was interested in a new project – or a starlet. In terms of casting, Kangana is perfect enacting the role of the plaything of gangsters. But I am getting ahead of the plot! Haji Mastaan was the one who created the monster we call Dawood…and Dawood, as we all know, is indeed alive and well ….Haji lives on….