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Varadarajan Mudaliar

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Varadarajan Mudaliar

Varadarajan Mudaliar, featured in the Illustrated Weekly cover as the the ‘most feared man in Bombay'

1 March 1926 (age 61)

Mohan Mudaliar, Jayaram Mudaliar

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Karim Lala, Haji Mastan, Bada Rajan, Maya Dolas, Shabir Ibrahim Kaskar

2 January 1988 (aged 61) Madras, Tamil Nadu, India

Vardarajan Mudaliar Biography || Vardabhai || Varadarajan Mudaliar Facts

Varadarajan Mudaliar (1926 – 2 January 1988), also known as Vardha Bhai, was an Indian gangster. He was born in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu. For two decades from early 1960s to 1980s, he was one of the most powerful mob bosses in Bombay along with Haji Mastan and Karim Lala. Varadarajan controlled all the criminal activities in his strongholds of Dharavi, Mahim, Matunga, Sion-Koliwada and Chunnabhatti extending upto Chembur and Ghatkopar. He ran an almost parallel judicial system for the south indian community in these areas until police inspector Y.C. Pawar cracked down upon him causing him to abandon his underworld empire and flee from Mumbai to Tamil Nadu.


Varadarajan Mudaliar' arms crossed while wearing white long sleeves

Varadarajan mudaliar

Underworld career

Varadarajan Mudaliar's headshot while wearing white long sleeves

Varadarajan was born in Tuticorin, Madras Presidency in 1926 to a union leader who was shot to death by the police. He moved to Bombay in 1945. Working as a porter at VT Station, he began his crime life by stealing dock cargo. Varada, as he was fondly called, was hugely popular among the poor south Indian residents in the Dharavi slums. He used the massive Dharavi slums as a safe haven to expand his criminal activities into a massive underworld empire of extortion, kidnapping, contract killing, illegal land encroachment, running illegal gambling and liquor dens, manufacturing illicit liquor and bootlegging. Varada had total control over the distribution racket of illicit liquor. His men used to fill rubber tubes of tyres with illicit liquor and leave them by the roadside to be collected by the truck drivers for transporting to other areas. His men used to also transport liquor barrels in taxis whose rear seats were removed for extra space for the barrels. It is said that Varada started the arrangement of giving fixed monthly kickbacks to the police in his areas in return for a free run in his crime activities. In the early 1980s, after Haji Mastan gave up his smuggling operations and Karim Lala's Pathan gang was weakened by a split between Samad Khan and Dawood Ibrahim, Varadarajan emerged as the strongest gang leader. He extended his sway over north central suburbs of Chembur, Tilaknagar and Ghatkopar by lending patronage to south indian gangsters like Bada Rajan and Sadhu Shetty.

Varadarajan Mudaliar's headshot while wearing white long sleeves

Varadarajan ran a parallel judicial system within the South Indian community in his strongholds.

Varadarajan Mudaliar smiling while wearing white long sleeves

Starting the 1980s, police officer Y.C. Pawar targeted Varadarajan Mudaliar. Most of his gang members were eliminated or imprisoned. His illegal gambling and liquor dens were closed down and finally by the end of 1983, Varadarajan was forced to abandon his underworld empire and flee from Mumbai to Tamil Nadu.

Personal life

While a porter at CST Station, Varadarajan began offering food to the poor at the nearby dargah of Bismillah Shah Baba and kept the tradition up as his fortunes rose.

His opulent pandals at Matunga station during the annual Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were quite famous and visited by celebrities. However, after the collapse of the cotton mills in Mumbai in the mid-1980s, their relevance ended.

Varadarajan died of a heart attack in Chennai on 2 January 1988. Haji Mastan brought his body to Mumbai in a chartered Indian Airlines plane for last rites as per Varda's wishes.Many people mourned his death. Life came to a standstill in Dharavi, Matunga and Sion Koliwada when his body was flown into the city. Varadarajan's dear friend, Selva, was with him throughout his adult life till his death..

In 1983, in the film Ardh Satya, the character of Rama Shetty played by actor Sadashiv Amrapurkar was loosely based on Varadarajan.

In 1984, actor Amrish Puri played a character called Varadarajan of Dogharbhatti in the movie, Mashaal.

In 1987, Mani Ratnam made his film Nayakan, based on Varadarajan's life. Actor Kamal Hassan played the lead role.

The 1988 Hindi movie Dayavan, starring Vinod Khanna was a remake of Nayakan.

One of the characters in the 1991 Malayalam film Abhimanyu, which was based on the Mumbai underworld activities, holds resemblance to Muthaliar with the character's name being the same.

In a television interview, Amitabh Bachchan stated that he modeled his dialogues and mannerisms in the movie Agneepath after Varadarajan's.

In the 2013 Tamil movie Thalaiva, Sathyaraj's character is mainly extracted from Varadarajan's life. Vijay played the lead and as Sathyaraj's son.

In the 2015 Tamil movie Yagavarayinum Naa Kaakka, starring Mithun Chakraborty a character is mainly extracted from Varadarajan's life.


Varadarajan Mudaliar Wikipedia