Haji Mastan Mirza popularly known as Haji Mastan or Bawa was a Bombay (Mumbai) gangster and smuggler in the 1960s and 70s.
Mastan Haider Mirza as born on 1 March 1926 into a farmer’s family in Panaikulam, a small village 20 km from Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu.. His father, Haider Mirza, was a hard-working but impoverished farmer, who came to Mumbai after failing to make ends meet in his village.Father and son reached the city in 1934. After trying their hand at odd jobs, they managed to set up a small shop where they repaired cycles and two-wheelers in Bengali Pura, near Crawford Market. Mastan soon realized that even after all the toil he could only make a meagre rs. 5 a day
Coming to Bombay
In 1944, Mastan joined the Bombay docks as a coolie. His job was to unload huge boxes and containers of ships coming from Aden, Dubai, Hong Kong and other cities. Here Mastan learnt a few tricks. The British levied import duty on the goods that came in and there was a good margin to be made if this could be evaded. In those days, Philips transistors and imported watches were a rage in Mumbai. Around that time, he met a man named Shaikh Mohammed Al Ghalib, an Arab by descent. Ghalib was looking for someone who was willing to help and support him do exactly the same.
Rise as the don of Bombay
The windfall came in 1956 when Mastan came in contact with Sukur Narayan Bakhia a resident of Daman and the biggest smuggler in Gujarat. Bakhia and Mastan became partners and divided certain territories among themselves. Mastan handled the Bombay port and Bakhia the Daman port. The smuggled items would come to Daman port from the UAE and to Mumbai from Aden. Mastan took care of Bakhia’s consignments.
Haji Mastan planned his own foray into films with a project titled Mere Garib Nawaz and followed by other movies. He was a successful distributor and excelled in cinema business.Contrary to the general belief, Haji Mastan Mirza was never an underworld don or even a goon for that matter. He was a smuggler and a shrewd man who rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty of his era. Be it Karim Lala or Varadarajan Mudaliar, Dilip Kumar or Shashi Kapoor. He had excellent relationship with Dharmendra, Feroz Khan, Raj Kapoor and Sanjeev Kumar. Salim and Amitabh often visited him while Deewar was in the pipeline. He also had friends from the world of politics."THAT'S WHY IN MOVIE ONCE UPON... KANGNA SAYS KI WO NAYA SUPERSTAR H NA AMIT WO KAR LEGA MOVIE"
After all the cases against him were disposed off, Haji Mastan never indulged in smuggling again. He floated a political party and devoted time in holding periodic meetings with the poor and the needy in the minority community-dominated localities of south Mumbai and held public rallies at Mastan Talao near Nagpada police station. He also joined hands with anti-drug abuse activists like Dr Yusuf Merchant and implored the youth to stay away from killer drugs.
In 1994, he died due to cardiac arrest.