Before Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees: Who was Abdul Latif, the real Raees?


    The trailer of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Raees is finally here. But do you know who the real Raees was? Here is all you need to know about Gujarat-based gangster Abdul Latif, reportedly the inspiration behind Raees Alam.


    Raees Alam i.e Shah Rukh Khan’s character in Raees is a gangster in Gujarat who starts his criminal empire by dealing in illicit liqour. The character, though not confirmed by the film’s makers, is rumoured to be based on real-life gangster Abdul Latif who was a terror throughout Gujarat.

    Latif was shot and killed by the police in Ahmedabad in an alleged ‘encounter’ in 1997. Reportedly, Shah Rukh Khan visited Abdul Latif’s son Mustak Ahmed Abdul Latif Shaikh in Gujarat, at least twice, to research on his character and understand Abdul Latif, the person who was the backbone of Shah Rukh’s Raees character.

    However, when Shah Rukh noticed that meeting Latif’s son was being given political overtones, the actor began maintaining a distance from Mustak. Mustak reportedly felt snubbed by Shah Rukh and demanded money up to Rs 10 crore from the actor and only then, would he allow Raees to release.
    While these maybe rumours, hearsay and gossip, that Shah Rukh’s character Raees and Abul Latif seems to have a lot of similarities is undeniable.

    Abdul Latif began his journey in the bylanes of Ahmedabad. He began waiting on tables in gambling danes where as a teenager, he would serve liquour.

    From there, Latif started his business as a bootlegger and through murder, extortion and political patronage, slowly grew big enough to monopolise the illicit liquour Business of Gujarat. As Latif’s business empire grew, so did his ambition and consequently, the scale of his operations. Latif soon got involved in hawala, contract killings and land dealings. He would allegedly recieve smuggled arms and ammunition brought in through the villages of Gujarat’s western coast.

    It is said that Abdul Latif had a Robin Hood-like image among the Muslims of Gujarat. According to rumours and anecdotes, Latif would help underprivileged and backward Muslim youth get jobs and would provide the impoverished with food, shelter and other aid.
    Latif was also known for running a parallel justice system. A large section of Gujarat’s Hindu population believed that Latif was strongly communal. The gangster always ensured that his criminal associates were predominantly Muslim and in the words of a Gujarat police officer, after his arrest, “There were fireworks in the Hindu areas.”

    Abdul Latif is known to have had close connections to Dawood Ibrahim, one of the world’s most dreaded terrorists and currently wanted by the Interpol. Although Latif’s

    name did not figure among the 198 accused in connection to the 1992 Bombay blasts, after his arrest, Latif revealed to investigators that during his 15-month stay in  Karachi between August 1993 and December 1994, he would meet Dawood “almost daily.”

    In 2008, a retired director general of Gujarat Police told Times of India, “It would not be wrong to say Abdul Latif laid the foundations of the BJP’s climb to power

    on its own strength in Gujarat.”
    Latif had close ties to the Janata Dal government (1990-1995) led by Chimanbhai Patel. His business flourised during Chimanbhai’s regime but in 1995, the BJP

    (Bharatiya Janata Party) government came into power in the state. Latif became a symbolic target for the BJP government and around the time of the 1995 elections,

    Latif had fled to Pakistan. Reportedly, around this time, no election speech of a BJP leader was complete without a mention of Latif and his ties with Dawood Ibrahim

    and the Congress.
    After Latif’s arrest, Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel was commemorated as a ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’ and was fecilitated by his party in many districts of the state.
    Latif, since his arrest, had been lodged in the Sabarmati Central jail. On November 29, 1997, Latif allegedly tried to escape after he was brought back to his jail

    following an investigation. The police shot him dead.