Arun Gawli – The Man who inspired the biopic ‘Daddy’

Arun Gawli is a former gangster and current politician. He entered the world of crime in the 70s along with his brother ‘Bappa’ Kishor. He became the leader of Rama Naik’s gang after Naik was killed in a police encounter. Criminal activities around the central Mumbai region and other operations of the gang were controlled by Gawli from his Dagdi Chawl residence.

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Arun was arch rival of Dawood Ibrahim’s gang across the 80s and 90s. He founded Akhil Bharatiya Sena (ABS) political party and thus entered politics. His nickname is Daddy.

Arjun Rampal plays the role of Gawli in the 2017 Hindi movie ‘Daddy.’ Makarand Deshpande’s character in the 2015 Marathi film Daagdi Chaawl was based on Gawli.

Family and Early Life

Arun Gawli was born as Arun Gulab Ahir on 9th May 1955 in Kopargaon, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, to Gulabrao who had moved to Dagdi chawl from Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh in the early fifties.

He is married to Asha Gawli. As per journalist S. Hussain Zaidi’s book ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai,’ Asha was formerly a Muslim and named Zubeida. She married Arun and converted to Hinduism. The couple has 5 children; the eldest daughter Geeta Gawli is a corporator in BMC from Chinchpokli assembly constituency. The eldest son Mahesh, got married in 2015.

Asha, nicknamed as Mummy, is the leader of the women’s wing of ABS. She has also taken over the reins of his rule at Dagdi chawl.

Sachin Ahir, the former housing Minister of state and NCP MLA, is Arun’s  nephew. Khandwa legislator Hukumchand Yadav is Gawli’s uncle.

Gawli’s family was poor and could not pay for his education. Hence, he dropped out after standard V. He joined the milk supplying family business soon after. In the 1980s, he left the milk supply business and began working for ‘The Byculla Company,’ a gang led by Rama Naik.


Arun Gawli: Criminal activities and Politics

After joining Rama Naik’s gang, Gawli was gained the bosses confidence and was asked to protect the consignments of Dawood Ibrahim. He also supervised the illegal liquor dens of Naik.

From 1984 to 88, the gang supported the D-company and helped run Dawood’s business who had escaped to Dubai to evade police arrest. In 1988, there were some differences between Sharad Shetty and Naik over a land deal in Jogeshwari. Dawood supported Shetty and hence Naik began warring against Dawood.

The 1.65 meter tall Gawli took over the gang after Naik’s death and unleashed a brutal assault on the D-company men and their activities. The gangwar caused all major gangsters of the D-company to flee to Dubai.

The police  raided Gawli’s house in Dagdi chawl premises (Saat Raasta, Byculla0 many times and arrested him on several occasions for varied criminal activities. Despite detention for long periods during different trials, there was no conviction of Gawli due to lack of evidence or witnesses. Finally in August 2012, the court convicted Arun for the murder of Kamalakar Jamsandekar, a leader of Shiv Sena party.

Gawli was supported by Bal Thackeray, the chief of Shiv Sena, during the 80s. He referred to Gawli and his fellow gang members as ‘amchi muley’ and admonished police for acting against such Hindu gangsters. He fell out with the party in the mid nineties and then formed his own political party. Gawli was elected as an ABS party MLA in 2004.

 Movie on Arun Gawli

Actor Arjun Rampal plays protagonist Arun Gawli on the big screen for the movie ‘Daddy’. Aishwarya Rajesh plays wife Asha Gawli.

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