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When Rishi Kapoor had tea with Dawood Ibrahim once upon a time in Dubai

The actor made a sensational disclosure in his book Khullam Khulla.

Mayur Lookhar

Rishi Kapoor’s life is an open book. His autobiography Khullam Khulla takes its name from the Khel Khel Mein (1975) song by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle picturised on Rishi and real life wife Neetu Singh Kapoor.

The actor, who headed to Lord Balaji temple in Tirupati to seek blessings for his new book, tweeted:

As often with biographies, it's the controversial excerpts that help market the book. 

In a sensational disclosure, Rishi has revealed about his two accidental meetings with India’s most wanted fugitive Dawood Ibrahim during his visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 1988-89. Rishi had played underworld don Iqbal Seth in D-Day (2013), a character which was based on Ibrahim. 

Kapoor writes in Khullam Khulla: "I had landed in Dubai with my closest friend, Bittu Anand, for an Asha Bhosle-RD Burman night. Dawood always had a man at the airport to keep him posted on VIP movement. When I was leaving the airport, a stranger walked up to me and handed me a phone. He said, 'Dawood saab baat karenge (Dawood saab would like to talk to you)."

The Kapoor & Sons actor stated that he met Ibrahim purely because back then the 1993 Mumbai blasts hadn't occurred and the underworld don had a different image. 

"Later, I was introduced to a fair, pudgy guy who looked British. This was Baba, the don's right-hand man. He said to me, 'Dawood saab wishes to have tea with you.' I didn't see any harm in that and accepted the invitation. That evening, Bittu and I were picked up from our hotel in a gleaming Rolls Royce. While we were being driven to his home, a conversation went on around us, in Kutchi. I don't understand Kutchi but my friend did, and he realised that we were being driven around in circles, so we wouldn't know the exact location of his house," Kapoor added.

Kapoor goes on to mention intricate details about the meeting where the don referred to himself as the messenger of Allah. 

"'I called you to tea because I don't drink or serve alcohol'," Rishi says in his biography. "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. 'I have carried out petty thefts but I have never killed anyone, though I have got someone killed,' he revealed. He claimed to have had someone shot in a Mumbai court for lying. I can't remember exactly what he said, but it was about someone going against Allah's word and so they had to do it. He claimed, 'I was Allah's messenger, so we shot him through his tongue and then through his brain.' Director Rahul Rawail later used this real-life incident as the basis of a courtroom murder scene in his film Arjun (1985)."

Ibrahim had liked Kapoor's film Tawaif (1986) where the actor played a character called Dawood. Being in Dubai, it would have been difficult for Kapoor to turn down the don's invitation. 

Kapoor writes, "I remember feeling rather fearful when I first arrived there, but as the evening progressed my anxiety melted away and I relaxed, and we shared innumerable cups of tea over four hours. He asked me again if I needed anything. His exact words were, 'If you need anything at all, any money, anything, just feel free to ask me'.”

This wasn’t their only meeting. Kapoor and his wife Neetu accidentally bumped into the don while shopping in a Dubai shoe store.

Elaborating on their second meet Kapoor writes, " 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. This time too he said, 'Let me buy you whatever you want.' I politely declined and said, 'I appreciate your gesture but I'd like to do my own shopping.' He gave me his mobile number, but I couldn't offer one in return because this was in 1989 when we didn't have mobile phones in India. Finally Dawood said, 'I am a fugitive because I will not get justice in India. There are a lot of people there who are against me. There are also many in India I have bought. I pay several politicians who are in my pocket.' I said to him, 'Dawood, please leave me out of all this, yaar. I am an actor and I really don't wish to get involved.' He understood."

The actor was left stunned when Ibrahim was accused of orchestrating the 1993 Mumbai blasts.

Kapoor says, "I don't know what made him go after my country the way he did. I have had no interaction with him at all after that chance meeting at the shoe shop. But there have been some more encounters with members of his family. I made a film called Shreemaan Aashique which had music composed by Nadeem-Shravan and lyrics by Noora, Dawood's brother, who had a flair for writing. I heard that Dawood's cronies would wake Nadeem up at 2 am. and say, 'Noora wants to speak to you."

There's a reason why people meet. Back then Rishi surely wouldn’t have envisaged that he’d play a character inspired by Ibrahim. Having met the man in person, Rishi sure did not have a lot to do in terms of research for the role.