When former Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Isaque Bagwan held a press conference earlier, to lash out at the makers of the just released film ‘Shootout at Wadala’, all I wanted to say is: I endorse that. With all these gangland novels, books and movies, there are a number of people who want to depict the underworld and gangsterism on celluloid and in books. I do not say no to that but when it is done just to make it box-office material, then it is time to sit up and take notice because it is done at the cost of a peaceful society and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
When the equilibrium of society is affected adversely, the result can take lethal shape in the form of communal riots. I am disappointed that the film was released because I thought that it was the duty of the Mumbai police and the State Home Dept. to see that the makers of Shootout at Wadala were reined in so that in the name of art, freedom of expression, the makers do not go berserk disturbing peace and sanity in society. The director of ‘Shootout at Wadala’, Sanjay Gupta, needed to be stopped before he released such a film as he is a history sheeter in such things.
Though I have not seen the film, ‘Shootout at Wadala’, in the first, ‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’, which had filled coffers with crores and glorified gangsterism, the police was depicted in a very poor light. Police officers, then attached to the elite Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) headed by A A Khan, slogged day and night for months risking their lives while following clues leading to the hideout of trigger-happy and ruthless gangsters -- Dilip Kohak aka Buwa, Maya Dolas and their aides.
In that film, the makers for the sake of a box-office hit, showed Dawood Ibrahim, the notorious gangster giving a tip off on his own henchmen to the then ATS Chief, and thereby not only showing police dancing to the tune of the refugee gangster Dawood, but also discrediting the dare-devil cops of their honest efforts often made at the cost of their lives. It was more surprising that Khan who was also playing some role in the movie, either did not put his foot down or maybe, the director-producer took him for a ride.
Let me give you another example of how the police is discredited or not acknowledged on film. Recently, I happened to see a movie or rather a documentary on the 26/11 attacks. The movie was made by Ram Gopal Varma with the box office in mind. This documentary film, which is of two-hour duration, omits the gruesome incident at Nariman House in Colaba and Hotel Oberoi Trident, for reasons best known to the director, who is obviously is not answerable or accountable to the police or Home department.
It was here that Security Officer Sunil Kudiyali of Taj saved hundreds of patrons by escorting them through a safe passage of the hotel by risking his life. At the entrances of Hotel Oberoi Trident, Hotel Taj Colaba and Hotel Gokul behind Taj, the BDDS squad defused the RDX bombs planted by highly-trained terrorists. The then Mumbai police commissioner, Hasan Gafoor, camping near Hotel Oberoi Trident and supervising the entire battle on the ground against the terror attack, sadly does not find a mention anywhere in the entire movie.
Then, there was the attack on Nariman House where the Rabbi and his family were trapped and killed. Here, the NSG commandos silenced the terrorists by para sailing from choppers and while then Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Isaque Bagwan saved hundreds of lives of the persons residing in the neighbouring buildings. Gallant police officers, Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar are shown being killed like sitting ducks. Whereas it was established that despite being ambushed, Kamte had fired on terrorist Ismail and had injured him.
Here, we see that film directors and producers make films on such incidents to make crores at the box office. They are not at all bothered as to whether they have distorted the facts, misguided the public and tarnished the image and integrity of honest and courageous cops. These filmmakers are unconcerned as to whether their films will have a demoralising effect on the police. Such films should be made with assistance and positive inputs from police officers involved in such encounters and the senior police administration. Iqbal Shaikh is Assistant Commissioner of Police (retd). He retired from Colaba Division in May 2012 and now works as a legal and security advisor.
Curbs on creativity needed says ex-cop; while director says read the disclaimer, please
You have not seen the film, so how can you comment on and criticise it?
Shaikh: I have seen promotions and read a lot about the movie in the media. I also read about my ex-colleague I Bagwan’s press statements about the film. I think I can comment on that basis.
Movies are after all, movies and may not show the absolute truth…
Shaikh: Yet, one has to be careful about whose reputation one is damaging. For instance, in ‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’ it was seen that we (police) got a tip-off from Dawood. It makes people look at us with suspicion. It shatters our image, in fact, destroys us. While I can understand things like hand to hand combat and impossible fighting stunts, that may be necessary in a movie, I cannot understand casting aspersions on integrity. It also glorifies gangsters whatever one might say to the contrary. The public is left with the feeling that small crimes do not pay but “kuch bada cheez karo.” (do something big).
Q: Not all cops do glorious or brave deeds…
Shaikh: Like everywhere there are good and bad people in every department. There has to be some limit to creative liberty.
Shootout at Wadala, director Sanjay Gupta reacts
“I have never heard of Iqbal Shaikh. Obviously, if he is talking to you now (Friday afternoon) he must have seen the movie, first day, first show.” When told that Shaikh has called him a history sheeter and one who glorifies gangsterism he retorted, “Good for him. He should enjoy his retirement and not look for unnecessary media attention.” Gupta also ended, “The disclaimer in the beginning of the film states that the film is a hybrid of fact and fiction and should be viewed as such.”
Shootout at Wadala
The term is one that the cops use to refer to the incident in which they caught and killed gangster Manya Surve. It was the city’s first recorded encounter killing. Surve had eluded the police for some time. On January 11 1982, Mumbai cops got a tip that Surve would meet his girlfriend at a junction in Wadala. The cops surrounded the area and as expected, Surve arrived at 1:30 pm to pick up his girlfriend. When he saw the cops, he tried to fire but two cops -- Isaque Bagwan and Raja Tambhat -- shot him instead. Five bullets hit him in the chest and shoulder. He died enroute to KEM Hospital.
Who was Manya Surve?
Manya Surve (1944-1982) was a gangster who was initially involved in robberies and later in narcotics trafficking. He wanted to join the ruling gangs, but those days, they were communal in nature and as a Hindu, he was not accepted. He then started his own gang. The scenario changed in 1981, when the ruling gangsters, the Pathans, contracted Surve to kill Dawood Ibrahim’s brother Sabir. On February 12 1981, Sabir was killed outside the Siddhivinayak Temple in Prabhadevi. Dawood became the gang leader. On January 11 1982, he was killed in a police encounter in Wadala. While this is one version of events, retired ACP Isaque Bagwan who was involved in the shootout, issued a statement in January this year disputing these facts and said Surve was only a small time crook and was not responsible for Sabir’s death.
Shootout at Lokhandwala
The term refers to a police encounter that occurred on November 16, 1991 between police officers and Maya Dolas at the Lokhandwala complex in Andheri. Maya Dolas is alleged to have been one of the key lieutenants in Dawood Ibrahim’s gang. The then Additional Commissioner of Police Aftab Ahmed Khan headed a joint operation between the Mumbai Police Force and the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS). The ATS had received a tip that Maya Dolas and his gang were hiding in two flats in the complex. After securing the area, the cops barged into the flats. The seven gangsters present tried to escape, which led to a four-hour long encounter. The gangsters refused to surrender and in the end, all of them were killed.
Shootout at Lokhandwala (the movie)
In 2007, director Apoorva Lakhia and producer Sanjay Gupta released a film about the incident, with the tag line: based on true rumours. Vivek Oberoi played Dolas, Tusshar Kapoor played the character based on the marksman Dilip Buwa and Sanjay Dutt played Shamsher Khan, the character based on the then Additional Commissioner of Police Aftab Ahmed Khan who headed the operation. Sunil Shetty and Arbaaz Khan played two cops while Amitabh Bachchan played a lawyer.