Book Review: Dongri to Dubai– six decades of the Mumbai Mafia



If you grew up in the 90s in Pakistan and bought pirated Bollywood movies, you may have played a part in fueling terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

In 2009 the Rand Corporation declared that the pirated movie business played a role in funding Islamic terrorism in the world. Backing the ever popular Sadaf video cassette was powerful don’s money trail. And piracy was only one of Daud Ibrahim’s many illegal businesses.

His role in the 1993 Mumbai bombings and how he lived in a majestic ‘white house’ in Karachi’s Clifton area under the patronage of our spy agency– and much more has been talked about in Indian journalist, S. Hussain Zaidi’s book ‘Dongri to Dubai- six decades of the Mumbai Mafia’.

Dawood Ibrahim, a Konkani Muslim– with the name Kaskar– was born in the house of an honest police officer in Mumbai. The first time he cheated some one with money– he was beaten black and blue by Ibrahim Bhai, his father.

The book which has now been filmed– into the Anil Kapoor starer Shootout at Wadala– takes a reader through six decades of the Mumbai Mafia– starting from the 70s when the most dangerous weapons rival gangs used were sticks, knives and empty glass bottles.

It reads like a novel– and sheds light on how closely the Mumbai Mafia gave money to Bollywood to produce movies. Hence movies in the 70s and 80s always had a hero born in a poor household– who was wronged– and then rose against the state– and joined a gang to rebel. Characters like Amitabh Bachan in Deewar.

It talks about the murder of Gulshan Kumar– who owned the recording company T-series and introduced voices like Sonu Nigham in the industry. And how Rakesh Roshan was once opened fired on for refusing to work with Dawood’s gang.

In the industry there was a time when no one could escape Dawood’s gang. Stars like Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan were all approached.

The gangs wanted these stars to work with them– including Abu Salem– a gangsters who wanted to make big money in Bollywood. There was a time when Abu Salem sent someone to meet Shahrukh on the set of a movie he was acting in. Shahrukh hid in Rani Mukherjee’s vanity room for an hour— and then quietly disappeared from the set. He couldn’t refuse to work with these gangs on their face.

The 400 paged book is essential for anyone who wants to understand Mumbai’s underworld. Not surprisingly it shares many commonalities with gangs in its sister city Karachi.

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