Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Before 'Gangubai Kathiawadi', Watch These Films Based On Real-Life Gangsters

As we wait for director Sanjay Leela Bhansali's upcoming biographical film 'Gangubai Kathiawadi', here is a look at some of the other Bollywood films that were based on the lives of real gangsters in India.

Alia Bhatt
Alia Bhatt IMDB

Bollywood director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has been teasing fans with looks and teasers from his upcoming biographical film 'Gangubai Kathiawadi' for quite some time now. The film stars actress Alia Bhatt in the lead role who will be playing the role of Gangubai, who rose to prominence in the Kamatipura area in Mumbai for various underworld crimes. The film also stars actor Ajay Devgn who will also be seen in his upcoming crime thriller series 'Rudra - The Edge Of Darkness' on Disney+ Hotstar.

Here are some other Bollywood films that were famous for depicting very true-to-life versions of the life of Indian gangsters they are based on.


This biographical action drama starred actor Arjun Rampal in the lead role. The film directed by Ashim Ahluwalia is biographical about the incredible true story of Arun Gawli, who grew up in Mumbai's destitute Dagdi Chawl and went on to become a feared don, politician, and competitor of India's most powerful crime lord, Dawood Ibrahim, stretching through the 1970s and 1980s.


The film's elegance was supplied by actor Ajay Devgn's smouldering presence and actor Vivek Oberoi's attitude. But one of the greatest rivalries in Mumbai's underworld - between Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Rajan – provided the foundation for the organisation. Mumbai was shaken by the brutal gang war triggered by these two rivals. Director Ram Gopal Varma went to tremendous lengths to convey all the blood, gore, and savagery to the screen, and he succeeded spectacularly.

'Shootout At Lokhandwala' And 'Shootout At Wadala'

'Shootout At Lokhandwala', the film was about the Mumbai mobster Mahindra Dolas and his gang, as well as a huge conflict between Mumbai Police and gangs that took place on November 16, 1991. The film 'Shootout At Wadala', directed by Sanjay Gupta, is reported to be based on the life of Mumbai mobster Manya Surve, who lived during a period when criminal groups were attempting to expand their power beyond the financial capital. Surve, who was played by actor John Abraham on screen, was a well-educated thief who knew how to organise robberies like a professional. Surve was later slain by police in Mumbai's first documented "encounter" or staged gunfight.

'Gangs Of Wasseypur'

A clash between Sultan and Shahid Khan results to Khan's banishment from Wasseypur and the start of a three-generation blood feud. This film by director Anurag Kashyap is one of the most revered gangster films of recent times. It starred actors Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Pankaj Tripathi in lead roles.

'D Day'

In this Nikhil Advani film, late actor Rishi Kapoor portrays Iqbal Seth alias Goldman, a Pakistani mobster. Some Indian agents are on a mission to capture Iqbal, who is wanted in a number of instances throughout the country. Kapoor's attire made it evident that his persona was modelled on a Mumbai criminal. The film was a mild box-office hit and poked fun at the media frenzy surrounding gangsters' lives.

'Black Friday'

This is the most authentic film to date about Mumbai's gangsters and the links of some mafia bosses to Pakistan's intelligence set-up, based on S Hussain Zaidi's book of the same name. The docu-drama directed by Anurag Kashyap looked into the 1993 Mumbai bombings, which killed 257 people, as well as the rioting that followed. It reveals how Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon plotted and carried out the series of bombings. Pawan Malhotra is well known for his performance in the film Black Friday, which utilised footage from TV interviews to make a point.

'Once Upon A Time In Mumbai' And 'Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobaara'

This film depicts a period in Mumbai's underworld when, under the leadership of Haji Mastan, who was active in the 1960s and 1970s, the underworld was slowly becoming organised. Despite the fact that director Milan Luthria kept the narration quite dramatic, the film managed to bring the viewer back to that era with characters that were clearly based on Mastan (Ajay Devgn) and his follower Dawood Ibrahim (Emraan Hashmi). It was followed by it's sequel 'Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobara' which was also based on don Dawood Ibrahim. Mastan's storey has previously inspired a cinematic character, with Amitabh Bachchan's character in 'Deewaar' (1975) loosely based on the smuggler.


Director Feroze Khan's 'Dayavan', with actor Vinod Khanna in the lead role. For South Indians living in Mumbai in the 1980s, Varadarajan Mudaliar was a Robin Hood figure, the film was based on him and was a hit at the box office.


The film was directed by Mahesh Manjrekar and is based on the gangster Chhota Rajan is a reminder of how wonderful and natural actor Sanjay Dutt was in the character of a gangster. It is the story of a bloodthirsty thug whose ascension from vada pav stall owner to feared underworld figure is both amazing and devastating.

'Haseen Parker'

The film was directed by Apoorva Lakhia. The crime drama was based on the true life of don Dawood Ibrahim's sister Haseena Parker. It starred actress Shraddha Kapoor in the lead role. The story revolves around how she starts to face troubles in the underworld after her brother flees the country after the 1993 blasts.