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How Underworld Entered Bollywood – Part 1

Karim Lala was one of the three dreaded dons of Mumbai till the early 1980s. The other two dons were: Haji Mastan and Vardabhai or Varadarajan Mudaliar. This Pashto speaking Pathan who had moved to Mumbai from Afghanistan in the early 1920s was operating from Mumbai’s Dongri area. He ran two hotels and a travel agency – which was just a façade. As a leader of the Pathan gang his real job was extortion, kidnapping, contract killing and narcotics. Many people instead of going to the police went to Karim Lala’s court to get instant justice. During his peak, Lala frequently invited several film personalities to his parties and Eid celebrations. One of his close friends was a well-known Pathan — Mohammad Yusuf Khan aka Dilip Kumar (who hailed from Peshawar in British India – now in Pakistan). At one such party, cabaret sensation Helen tagged along with Dilip Kumar to meet Lala and casually complained about her manager PN Arora, who had allegedly duped her of large sums of money. All that Karim Lala did was make a phone call. By the time the party was over and Helen reached home, a sweating Arora was standing outside her building with a briefcase full of money. For many producers, it was an Open Sesame moment. They started paying the underworld to put a stop to starry tantrums and ensure stars report to their sets on time. In south India, stars are time-conscious and report on sets with full make up. There are stories galore about top stars keeping the entire crew waiting for hours. Producers’ myopic vision and actors’ indiscipline paved the way for the entry of the underworld into the film world. For the goons not only the money was good but they were more than rubbing shoulders with stars and starlets. Guns and roses were a deadly combination.  READ PART 2