Don (1978 film)

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Don 1978 poster.jpg
Directed by Chandra Barot
Written by Salim–Javed
Produced by Nariman Irani
Starring Amitabh Bachchan
Zeenat Aman
Cinematography Nariman Irani
Edited byWamanrao
Music by Kalyanji Anandji
Nariman Films
Release date
  • 12 May 1978 (1978-05-12)
Running time
166 minutes
Budgetest.₹70 lakh [1] [2]
Box officeest.₹7 crore [3]

Don is a 1978 Indian Hindi-language action thriller film directed by Chandra Barot and produced by Nariman Irani. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, and Pran. Bachchan plays a dual role, as Bombay underworld criminal Don and his lookalike Vijay. Written by Salim–Javed, the plot revolves around Vijay, a Bombay slum-dweller who resembles the powerful criminal Don, being asked by police superitendent D'Silva (Iftekhar) to masquerade as Don due to the latter's death, in order to act as an informant for the police and track down the root of the criminal organization. The film features music by Kalyanji Anandji, with lyrics by Anjaan and Indeevar.


It was the third highest-grossing Indian film of 1978, and was classified a golden jubilee by Box Office India. [3] [4] The film spawned the Don franchise; Javed Akhtar's son Farhan Akhtar created a remake Don: The Chase Begins Again (2006) and its sequel Don 2 (2011), both starring Shah Rukh Khan. It also inspired several South Indian remakes, notably the Tamil film Billa (1980), a breakthrough film for Rajinikanth. [5] Don is also known for its theme music, which was used in the American Dad! episode "Tearjerker" (2008). The intro to "Yeh Mera Dil" was sampled by the Black Eyed Peas for the song "Don't Phunk with My Heart" (2005). [6] The movie was also unofficially remade in 1991 into Punjabi language Pakistani movie titled Cobra . Don is one of the films that catapulted Amitabh to superstardom in his career.


The film begins with Don (Amitabh Bachchan) as one of the most successful criminals in Bombay who always eludes the authorities, marking himself on Interpol's "Most Wanted" list. To that end, the police, led by Deputy Superitendent of Police D'Silva (Iftekhar) and Inspector Verma (Satyen Kappu), is working with Interpol operative R.K. Malik (Om Shivpuri) in their attempts to nab Don. When one of Don's men named Ramesh decides to leave the gang, Don kills him, provoking Ramesh's fiancée Kamini (Helen) and Ramesh's sister Roma (Zeenat Aman) to swear vengeance on Don. Kamini tries to seduce Don in an attempt to have the police arrest him, but her plan backfires as Don plays wise to her moves and kills her before escaping once again. Training herself in judo and karate, Roma becomes a spy for D'Silva and enters Don's gang after deceiving them into thinking that she too is on the wrong side of the law, impressing Don in allowing her to work for him without suspecting any ulterior motive.

After years of unsuccessful attempts, the police finally succeed in nabbing Don, and D'Silva plans to take him into custody alive in order to reveal the source of crime that Don relies on. Unfortunately, Don dies succumbing to his wounds inflicted by the police during the chase, botching D'Silva's plan. Still wanting a chance to take down Don's gang, D'Silva buries Don's body while ensuring many people to believe he may still be alive as the only ones who know of Don's death are himself, the graveyard priest and his followers. As luck would have it, D'Silva remembers his previous encounter with a slum-dwelling simpleton named Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) who is an exact lookalike of Don. Meeting up with Vijay, D'Silva explains the situation to him and hatches a plan to have Vijay pose as Don so that he can get the police to arrest the rest of Don's gang and find out the source of crime that they rely on.

As a startup, D'Silva and Vijay staged an 'accident' that lands Vijay in the hospital under police custody, prompting Roma and Don's gang, currently led by Don's right-hand man Narang (Kamal Kapoor), to free Vijay, allowing him to infiltrate the gang under the guise of having amnesia. Around the same time, a man named Jasjit "JJ" Ahuja (Pran) is released from jail and wants revenge against Don and his gang, as they got him arrested for a past robbery that he was involved in. It was also told that JJ only took the job with the intention of using the money to save his wife from death, but was caught by D'Silva in the act; JJ also intends to reunite with his children Deepu and Muni, who are currently taken care of by Vijay himself. As part of his mission, Vijay finds a red diary containing evidence regarding to Don's criminal activities. Vijay replaces the diary with a blank one while telling Narang and the gang members that he is going to take revenge on D'Silva for capturing him, but is actually going to him to give him the real diary. As Vijay heads off, Roma tries to attack him in an attempt to avenge both Ramesh and Kamini's deaths. However, D'Silva intervenes and confesses about Don's death and the situation to Roma, who apologizes to Vijay and agrees to help him out in taking down the gang members. Using the diary, Vijay and Roma learned more about Don's past and feigned moments of doing notorious acts to maintain their covers to Narang and the gang members. D'Silva even learned that the diary also reveals the existence of a notorious crimelord named Vardhan serving as the source of crime in Bombay, and that all of the gang members are working for him (even Don and Narang are nothing more than just middlemen reporting to Vardhan). Despite this, there is no indication to finding out Vardhan's identity as it remains unknown.

After Vijay feigns a moment of regaining his memories to the gang members, this prompts them to announce a celebration on Don's return. However, things take a drastic turn when Malik and the police (acting upon Vijay's information) raided the celebration, and D'Silva is killed in the crossfire, leaving Vijay, Narang and the gang members to be arrested as Malik and the police mistook Vijay for Don. With D'Sliva dead and no one to vouch for him, Vijay is forced to escape, and the commotion caused Narang and the gang members to finally learn that Vijay is an impostor just as they too escape from captivity, swearing to kill him. To make matters worse, Vijay learns that the diary (the sole evidence to prove his innocence) is stolen by JJ, who attempts to use it to reunite with his children. Despite this, Vijay avoids getting captured by the police and the criminals with the help from Roma, who maintains her cover to the gang members. Vijay and Roma then meet up with JJ and explain to him about the events, prompting him to ally with Vijay and Roma. However, the trio are horrified to learn that Malik himself is actually Vardhan, as he captured the real R.K. Malik (Pinchoo Kapoor) and posed as the latter to cover his identity. They are even more horrified to learn that Vardhan was the one who murdered D'Silva during the raid-up, and that he already exposed Roma's identity to the gang members before having them kidnap Deepu and Muni so that they can force the trio to surrender themselves and the diary to Vardhan.

Meeting up in the same graveyard where Don was buried, Vijay, Roma and JJ meet up with Vardhan and his gang members, who are holding Deepu and Muni hostage. During a long standoff between the trio and the gang members, Vardhan snatches the diary and burns it before calling in Inspector Verma and the police to the scene to have the trio and the gang members arrested so that he can get away scot-free. However, anticipating the possibility that Vardhan would try to escape, Vijay cleverly revealed that the diary that Vardhan burned was the blank one that he switched, just as he hands the real diary over to Inspector Verma, exposing Vardhan's identity and occupation to the police. As a result, Vardhan ends up being arrested and sent to prison along with his gang members for their crimes, and all charges against Vijay are dropped while JJ is reunited with Deepu and Muni. The film ends with Vijay, Roma, JJ, Deepu and Muni happily walking away from the police station, satisfied that they took down Vardhan and his gang members for good.

Cast and crew




Producer and cinematographer Nariman Irani was in a financial mess when his film Zindagi Zindagi (1972), starring Sunil Dutt flopped. He was in debt for Rs 1.2 million and couldn't pay the money off on a cinematographer's salary. When he was doing the cinematography for Manoj Kumar's major hit Roti Kapada Aur Makaan (1974), the film's cast (Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Pran) and crew (assistant director Chandra Barot) decided to help him out. They all recommended that he produce another film and that they would participate in its production. They all approached scriptwriting duo Salim–Javed (Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar), who gave them an untitled script that had already been rejected by the entire industry. The cinematographer Nariman Irani, while working on Chhailla Babu , decided to borrow most of the plot of Chhailla Babu and shared a modified story idea with Chandra Barot, who made the new modified story as the film Don (1978). The script had a character named Don. Bachchan would play Don, and Barot would direct the film. Aman and Pran would play key roles in the film. [7]

The film took three-and-a-half years to complete. [8] Before filming was completed, producer Irani died from an accident on the set of another film he was working on. Barot faced budget restraints but received aid. [9] Barot showed the film to his mentor Manoj Kumar, who felt that the film was too tight and needed a song in the midst of the action-filled film, and so "Khaike Paan Banaraswala" was added into the film. Don was released without any promotion on 12 May 1978 and was declared a flop the first week. The song "Khaike Paan Banaraswala" was actually to be used by Kalyanji–Anandji for the film Banarasi Babu and picturised on Dev Anand, however since the song was not needed, Dev Anand had removed the song from the album. Within a week after an adding the song "Khaike Paan Banaraswala", the song by itself became a big hit, and by word of mouth spread, so by the second week, the film's fortunes were reversed, and the film was declared a blockbuster. The profits from the film were given to Irani's widow to settle her husband's debts. [10]

The hit-song "Khaike Pan Banaraswala" was choreographed by P.L. Raj. [11]

Don was produced on a budget of 70  lakh [1] ($860,000). [12] Adjusted for inflation, its budget is equivalent to $3.4 million (22  crore) in 2016. [13]


Soundtrack album by
Label EMI Records
Producer Kalyanji Anandji

The soundtrack of the film has been composed by the duo Kalyanji Anandji, while the lyrics were written by Anjaan and Indeevar.

According to film music expert Rajesh Subramanian, the song "Khaike Pan Banaraswala" was composed by Babla, the younger brother of a famous music director Kalyanji Anandji.

Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle received accolades at filmfare for the tracks "Khaike Pan Banaraswala" and "Yeh Mera Dil" respectively, both of which have also been remixed in the remake.

1."Main Hoon Don" Kishore Kumar 04:43
2."Yeh Hai Bombay Nagaria"Kishore Kumar05:53
3."Khaike Pan Banaraswala"Kishore Kumar04:04
4."Jiska Mujhe Tha Intezar"Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar 04:21
5."Yeh Mera Dil" Asha Bhosle 04:18
Total length:23:17

Box office

At the Indian box office, the film grossed 7  crore [3] ($8.6 million). [12] Adjusted for inflation, its box office gross is equivalent to $34 million (218 crore) in 2016. [13]


AwardCategoryRecipients and NomineesResults
Filmfare Awards Best Actor Amitabh Bachchan Won
Best Male Playback Singer Kishore Kumar for "Khaike Paan Banaraswala
Best Female Playback Singer Asha Bhosle for "Yeh Mera Dil"
Best Lyricist Anjaan for "Khaike Paan Banaraswala"Nominated
Best Music Director Kalyanji-Anandji

Legacy and influence

Don series

The film was remade in 2006 as Don starring Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role of Don, Priyanka Chopra as Roma, Arjun Rampal as Jasjit, Boman Irani as D'Silva, and Om Puri as Malik. It was directed by Farhan Akhtar. With some changes in the script, the film proved to be one of the highest-grossing films of the year. A sequel to that film, Don 2 , was released on 23 December 2011. [4]

Remakes in other languages



A sample from the song "Yeh Mera Dil" was used by The Black Eyed Peas for their hit song "Don't Phunk with My Heart" in 2005. The song won the Black Eyed Peas their first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, while the composers for "Yeh Mera Dil", Kalyanji Anandji, were awarded the BMI Award for being the originators of the melodies used in "Don't Phunk with My Heart." [6]

The third season American Dad! episode "Tearjerker" (2008) uses the 1978 Don theme music in its intro sequence.

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