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Exclusive: Sanjay Dutt set to play Karim Lala, Mumbai’s first don, in biopic

The actor is said to have given his nod for the underworld film, to be co-produced by Paperdoll Entertainment and Five Elements Studio.

Sanjay Dutt and Karim Lala

Mayur Lookhar

Actor Sanjay Dutt has not enjoyed a good run at the box office following his release from prison in 2016. Omung Kumar’s Bhoomi (2017), his comeback film, tanked at the box office. It was followed by another dud in Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 (2018).

Despite the failure of Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3, it appears that Dutt is not done featuring in crime dramas. The actor has reportedly agreed to play real-life ganglord Karim Lala in a biopic.

"Sanjay Dutt has been offered the role of Karim Lala, Mumbai’s first don, and he has given his nod," a trade source informed Cinestaan.com.

The project will be co-produced by Ahmed and Shaira Khan’s Paperdoll Entertainment Productions and Five Elements Studio. The film will be helmed by first-time director Adnan, who has been chief assistant director to Ahmed Khan.

An official announcement is expected soon, the source said.

Born in Afghanistan, Abdul Karim Sher Khan, better known as Karim Lala, was Bombay's crime boss in the 1950s and 1960s and is considered the first so-called underworld don of the city.

Karim Lala and his aides, Haji Mastan and Varadarajan Mudaliar aka Varadabhai, thrived on illegal activities such as smuggling, gambling, extortion, and running liquor dens when prohibition was imposed in the bilingual Bombay state. Haji Mastan and Karim Lala were also believed to have close ties with the film industry.

Karim Lala, whose fiefdom was gradually taken over in the early 1980s by Dawood Ibrahim, died in Mumbai in February 2002.

Efforts to contact Ahmed Khan did not yield any response.

Despite the failure of Bhoomi and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3, there seems to be no dearth of films for Dutt. The actor has already shot for Girish Malik’s Torbaaz and is said to be currently filming Dharma Productions' Kalank.

Dutt has also signed on for Ashutosh Gowariker’s period film Panipat, which will go on the floors by the end of the year. He will also reportedly feature in Sadak 2, a sequel to his 1991 romantic crime drama Sadak.