Along with their production companies and other associates, actors Shah Rukh Khan and Farhan Akhtar have moved the Gujarat High Court against a lower court order, which permitted the legal heirs of slain gangster Abdul Latif to join as plaintiffs in a defamation suit. 

The original court filing was submitted at Ahmedabad’s city civil and sessions court back in April 2016, following the trailer for Raees, which was reportedly based on the criminal’s life. Filed by Latif’s son Mushtaq Sheikh, the lawsuit named eight defendants, including Red Chillies Entertainment, Shah Rukh Khan, Gauri Khan, Excel Entertainment, it’s proprietors Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani, as well as director Rahul Dholakia and his production company, Rahul Dholakia Production Pvt Ltd. 

Incensed by the trailer, Sheikh alleged that the film and its promotional material put the reputation of himself, his family, and the late gangster in question — and specifically stated that the movie was wrong for portraying his father as ‘running a brothel and using women bootleggers’. 

So, what did Latif actually do? 

Abdul Latif  

Who Was Abdul Latif? 

With a larger-than-life story behind his rise to power, it’s no wonder why Abdul Latif Abdul Wahab Shaikh was the perfect inspiration for a fictional biopic. 

Based in Ahmedabad, Latif was born into poverty in the Muslim ghetto of Kalupur, where his father sold tobacco and struggled to raise seven siblings. He got his first taste of Gujarat’s underworld by waiting tables at gambling dens as a teenager, where he served liquor and came into contact with liquor providers, initially associating himself with a bootlegger and gambling proprietor named, Allah Rakha. He eventually switched sides to a rival outfit led by Mansoor Ali, but was ousted after two years on accusations of theft.  

Determined to build his own bootlegging enterprise, Latif worked on building a network of suppliers and transporters. Soon, he raised the support of corrupt police and excise officers to help circumvent Gujarat’s anti-liquor laws, eventually joining hands with major political figures of the 70s and 80s. 

By the 1990s, Latif became one of the country’s most notorious criminal bosses, presiding over a near-monopoly of Gujarat’s illicit liquor trade while branching into violent crimes such as kidnappings for ransom and murder.  

Abdul Latif Dawood Ibrahim

The Deal With Dawood Ibrahim 

Latif initially ended up on the infamous Mumbai don’s radar when he met and unwittingly provided asylum to the Pathan gang, who killed Dawood’s brother Sabir Ibrahim over a dispute regarding a consignment of gold. 

This quickly devolved into a long conflict between Latif and Dawood, who crossed paths at various skirmishes and shootouts. Throughout the 1980s, the two fought bitterly, with multiple assassination attempts taking place both under the radar and even within public spaces. 

By 1989, however, even Dawood accepted that Latif had grown too powerful — even winning the Ahmedabad Municipal Elections while contesting from behind bars. Inviting his fellow don to Dubai, the two joined forces and formed an unstoppable force within India’s criminal underworld. 

By the time Latif was killed in a police shootout in 1997, his gang was involved in 243 criminal cases, including 64 murders. These also included one of his most high-profile cases, where he was the main accused in supplying RDX used in the 1993 Mumbai blasts — an event referenced in Raees that Latif carried out in cahoots with Dawood. 

The Pending Lawsuit

While the aforementioned Mushtaq Shaikh originally filed the case, he passed away on July 6, 2020, and his cause was subsequently taken up by his widow and two daughters. As legal heirs, the Ahmedabad court allowed them to join the suit as plaintiffs this April. 

According to the Bollywood defending party, “a defamation suit is a personal action and it dies with the person,” making the lawsuit void in accordance with the Indian Succession Act, 1925.

(Featured Image Credits: Red Chillies Entertainment, Excel Entertainment)