Bambai Meri Jaan, the Bombay-based period drama, has an ensemble cast that does not disappoint from start to finish. One of the main reasons why most of these characters leave a lasting impression is the writing. The creators and the director of the show made sure the screenplay and the character graphs would always remain at the forefront. Some layered and complex writing allowed the audience to view these characters from a neutral perspective.
Haji Maqbool, whose real name was Sulaiman Maqbool, was renamed by the locals after a successful Hajj pilgrimage as Haji Maqbool. We get to hear Ismail’s voiceover throughout the season. It began with talking about Haji being an opulent gangster. He often threw parties for politicians and film stars. He was a big fan of glamor and glitz. He was also known to be acquainted with actors and actresses who were popular at that time. Haji was not into extorting actors but wanted to showcase his power in the city.
Haji and Ismail Kadri never got along, mostly because of the latter’s unorthodox methods of catching criminals and people associated with Haji’s business. Ismail was a no-nonsense cop and was not afraid of Haji or his allies. Haji was impressed by his work ethic, but he was also worried that Ismail would become the reason he’d have to abscond from the city or country eventually. Haji tries to influence Ismail by sharing an anecdote about a friend who eventually became his foe. Haji brags about having to kill this friend to safeguard his future. This tale was shared with Ismail to send out a message that Haji was not the kind of person he should be messing with. Ismail was not afraid of the man because he knew the law and order of the country were above men like Haji.
Despite his calm demeanor, Haji was a terrifying person, and people in the city always wanted to be in his good books. Ismail sees him for the first time at a wedding function. A relative of the couple is vocal about her disgust at seeing Haji Maqbool. She claims her son became a victim of drug abuse thanks to Haji and his men’s narcotics supply business, which affected a large number of people, and many of whom never managed to recover from it. Ismail had made up his mind about the man who puts on a façade in public while being a ruthless gangster behind closed doors.
Haji was always aware that Ismail would be a tough nut to crack, and he and his people wanted to create a situation that would put him on the back foot. Haji, Pathan, and Anna Mudaliar did not have to wait that long. Ismail had helped his brother-in-law Rahim leave town when he was accused of killing Ahmed, Ismail’s friend and colleague. Ismail was made aware of Ahmed’s death long after Rahim left. Ismail faced the brunt of his seniors, who were on Haji’s payroll. His suspension was the good news Haji and his associates were waiting for.
Haji tried his level best to manipulate Ismail’s family by bringing them to his side, especially Dara. Ismail was strictly against it and tried to stop himself from falling for Haji’s tactics as long as he could. Rahim was captured by Haji, but the latter had no interest in making him surrender himself. Rahim was killed on Haji’s order, making Ismail desperate. He had no option left but to work for Haji Maqbool and his associates. Haji finally found his way out.
Haji, though, never stopped respecting Ismail. He somehow understood that his new employee had strong morals and principles. Despite Haji’s ruthless nature, he admired Ismail. Dara, Ismail’s younger son, was fascinated by Haji’s life and the power he held over the city. This led to a tussle between Dara and Pathan’s henchmen. Haji was brought in to seek a truce and set Dara straight. Haji, being a seasoned player in this field, saw a fire in Dara. It’s implied that Haji has foresight about certain people he meets. He felt the same about Dara and asked him to make sound decisions instead of jumping to conclusions. Haji, in a way, mentored and encouraged Dara to follow the path he had chosen for himself. Haji probably saw himself in Dara, which made him advise him not to make any mistake in becoming the most powerful gangster in the city. Despite flare-ups between Dara’s gang and Pathan’s gang, Haji always wanted to keep Dara alive.
Haji may have had plans with Dara in the future, which he seemed not to have shared with Pathan or Anna. Haji was the most patient of all the gangsters in the syndicate. Even Dara and his gang couldn’t control their emotions and acted against their better interests. The bloodbath got severe when Naser, Dara’s best friend, was brutally killed by Pathan’s men. This was the beginning of the revenge saga that Haji warned his associates of.
Haji never steered away from his stance. He did not support the idea of killing Dara because he knew Pathan and Anna were underestimating the kind of support Dara carried. Sadly, Saadiq became the next victim of this gang war. Haji knew this was the last straw for Dara because this war had become personal. Haji knew Dara was just one provocation from becoming a monster, and Pathan unknowingly gave away all of his men and power on a platter for Dara to finish it.
Haji’s prediction came true when Dara mercilessly went after the people who conspired to kill his brother. The veteran gangster was the one who informed Dara about the sharpshooter that was hired by Pathan. The only reason we think Haji would have revealed the identities of the conspirators could be that he saw these people as having no potential or foresight to become the next powerful gangsters of the city. Given the way Pathan and Anna are going after Dara, he could see how they were willing to waste their manpower and money on this conflict. Haji saw a potential successor in Dara because the man retaliates only when attacked. After a point, Dara was unstoppable because of his and his siblings’ hunger to exact revenge. Haji tried to make Ismail speak to the young man, but all of this went in vain. Haji had to admit the fact that Dara was becoming powerful, and he did not intend to listen to anyone including his father or mentor.
Dara was forced to leave Mumbai because of the arrest warrant issued in his name, but he made sure to meet Haji one last time before leaving the country. Dara wanted to acknowledge Haji’s influence in his life. Haji, too, wanted to declare that Dara was the king of the underworld. The veteran somehow knew Dara would abscond. Haji remained untouched despite tussles with his associates. Haji always had respect for Dara, and he figured the man would chart his path. Haji was left behind because he loved the city of Mumbai, and he probably could not stay away from his home country for this long. Haji will probably not live long either, but his blessings for Dara will always remain intact.