Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees has found itself in hot water after Mushtaq Sheikh — the son of Abdul Latif, on whom the superstar’s character is reportedly based — has asked for a stay on the film’s release.
Sheikh has said that while he and his family were consulted by the Raees team while the film was being researched, they were not aware of what the “treatment” would be. Sheikh contends that his father has been shown in a negative, defamatory light in the film and has sued Shah Rukh, producer Farhan Akhtar, director Rahul Dholakia and four others for Rs 101 crore in damages.
Sheikh’s main point of contention seems to be that Raees shows Latif running a brothel and using women bootleggers in his business.
Harsh Gajjar, a lawyer for Sheikh, told The Indian Express: “There were 97 cases lodged against Latif in his life time. These cases were for bootlegging and serious offences under TADA, however, at no point he ran a brothel or used women for delivering liquor. By attributing such false claims in the movie trailer the respondents have defamed the family’s image in the society.”
Who really was Abdul Latif?
During the ’80s, Latif ran a flourishing bootlegging business in the Popatiyawad area of Gujarat and rose to become a don. It is said that he worked in gambling dens, serving liquir, from a very young age. This may have had something to do with his getting into the bootlegging business later in life.
As his profile rose, so did the scale and scope of his illegal business interests. It is reported that Latif was involved in hawala, land deals and contract killings. The charge of receiving smuggled arms in India, through the villages on the western coast of Gujarat, has also been laid at his door.
He was also said to be a close associate of Dawood Ibrahim — which led to him being considered a prime suspect in the 1993 Mumbai blasts.
At the same time, numerous stories are also in circulation about Latif’s altruistic deeds. Robin Hood-esque anecdotes about the don, claim he helped underprivileged Muslim youth get jobs, and provided the poor with financial and other aid.
Latif was killed in an encounter with the police in Naroda Patiya in 1997, allegedly while trying to escape (he had been incarcerated at Sabarmati Jai since 1995).
Raees is not the first film to be inspired by the don: Encounter Latif by Sharique Minhaj was released in 2014.
Previously, the makers of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai… found themselves at the receiving end of a defamation suit after the kin of Haji Mastan — on whom Ajay Devgn’ character in the film was said to be modelled — took umbrage at his portrayal.
The producers, Balaji Motion Pictures, were asked by the court to include a disclaimer in the film stating that it was not based on Haji Mastan’s life.
Watch the Raees trailer here: