D For Don II: Khullam Khulla

The Don always sells.

There is even a sweet, fan-girl account in Sheela Raval’s Godfathers of Crime (Hachette, 2015). She attended the reception of Mahrukh’s wedding in the summer of 2005 and said, “Mario Puzo would have been proud of the scene“.

Mahrukh
The Don’s Daughter, Mahrukh

In Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored (HarperCollins India, 2017), the actor has his own bit on Dawood.

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The year was 1988, a time when mobile phones were unknown to us in India. I had landed in Dubai for an Asha Bhosle-R.D.Burman night. Dawood always had a man at the airport to keep him posted on VIP movement in and out of the UAE. When I was leaving the airport, a stranger walked up to me and handed me a phone. He said, ‘Dawood sa’ab baat karenge.’ Obviously, this was before the 1993 blasts in Mumbai and I didn’t think of Dawood as fugitive on the run. He wasn’t an enemy of the state yet. Or, at least, that was the impression I had.

I was staying at the Hyatt Regency in Dubai on that trip and Dawood’s airport man would regularly drop in to use the gym there. Then I was introduced to a fair, pudgy guy who looked British. This was Baba, the second-in-command in Dawood’s hierarchy, The Don’s right hand man. He said to me ‘Dawood sa’ab wishes to have tea with you.’ I didn’t see any harm in that and accepted the invitation.

Immaculately dressed in an Italian ensemble that wasn’t exactly a suit, he greeted us warmly and apologetically explained, “I called you to tea because I don’t drink or serve alcohol.’ So, we had a tea-and-biscuits session for four hours. He spoke of a number of things, including some of his criminal activities for which he had no regrets. Dawood also told me he’d loved me in the film Tawaif because my name in it was Dawood. I resurrect the life of a downtrodden woman in Tawaif and Dawood was pleased that through the film I had (unwittingly) glorified his name.

Tawaif.jpg

His exact words were, ‘If you need anything at all, any money, anything, just feel free to ask me.’ That meeting with Dawood was in March 1988 and on 2 June my father passed away in Delhi.

I met Dawood only once after that, in Dubai. I love buying shoes and I was with Neetu at a sprawling Lebanese store called Red Shoe Company. Dawood was there too. He had a mobile phone in his hand and was surrounded by eight or ten bodyguards, all flaunting mobiles. He gave me his mobile number, but I couldn’t offer one in return because this was in 1989 when we didn’t have mobiles phones in India. Finally, Dawood said, ‘I am a fugitive because I will not get justice in India.’ He was extremely nice to me and showed me a lot of warmth.”

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