1978 blockbuster Don has much more to it than Amitabh Bachchan. The film, which will complete 38 years now, did not become a cult for no reason. It had the best casting, an action-packed plot and the most intriguing story-telling. And why not? After all, it inspired director Farhan Akhtar so much that he came out with its remake in 2006, and a sequel later in 2011. Surely that’s proof enough why the original Don remains etched in our minds forever.
But we bet there’s a lot you didn’t know about the film. Read on to find out.
1. Writers Salim-Javed were not able to sell one particular script for a long time after it was rejected by everyone from Dev Anand to Prakash Mehra and Jeetendra. Producer Nariman Irani was in debt and hence he approached writer Salim. Salim said “hamare paas ek breakfast script padi hai jo koi nahi le raha.” Nariman said “chalega”. It was the story about one particular Don!
2. The film’s iconic song “Khaike Paan Banaraswala” was never meant for Don. It was written for Dev Anand film Banarasi Babu. The song was shot after the entire filming was complete and added post interval to balance the action-packed pace of the film. Actor Manoj Kumar, who saw the rushes, said the film was so gripping that even taking a “toilet break” was difficult. Hence, the song was included on his recommendation. During its recording Kishore Kumar actually chewed paan and spat it on a plastic sheet to make it seem natural.
3. Producer Nariman died in a mishap while the shooting of Don was underway.
4. Pran was paid more than Amitabh Bachchan. In fact, his character Jasjit in the original script walked straight. But the makers altered the story and introduced a stick for him because Pran had had an accident just before the film’s shooting began, because of which he couldn’t walk without support.
5. Amitabh’s role of Vijay was inspired by one of the avatars Sanjeev Kumar portrayed in his film Naya Din Nayi Raat. He played a masterji who ate paan and had oily hair. Amitabh ate at least 40 paans to get those red lips. But the “chuna” ended up burning the actor’s lips and he was in pain for many days.
6. Music directors Kalyanji-Anandji used Barry White’s 1974 classic theme from Together Brothers as one of the main background scores in Don. The film’s background music was in turn used in the commentary part of the 1987 film Mr. X. So successful was its music that rapper Prodigy sampled “Yeh Mera Dil” for his song “Real Power is People”. Even the James Brown song “I Can’t Stand It” is featured in a club sequence. A side-actor is singing it while Amitabh and Zeenat Aman are sitting and talking.
7. Actress Farida Jalal shot for a 5 minutes scene at the Bombay airport. But later the makers felt her character wasn’t adding anything to the film but only increasing the duration. Her entire role was hence deleted from the film.
8. Saroj Khan, who was in her struggling days and was just a background dancer, used to watch Don everyday at a particular Bombay theatre, just to watch “Khaike Paan Banaraswala”. The theatre authorities started recognising her and later asked her not to purchase any ticket. They instead reserved a seat for her during a particular show.
9. Pran, Amitabh and Zeenat Aman did not charge a penny for the film. But after its success, they were given their share. The remaining amount went to the wife of late producer Nariman.
10. The theme of Don was released in the international dance album ‘Bombay The Hardway; Guns Cars and Sitars’.
11. We hear actor Rajendra Kumar was keen on playing the role of ACP D’Silva which ultimately went to Ifthekar. Actor Ifthekar who mostly played a police officer had many police uniforms. Hence, his casting saved the film’s cost on police costumes.
12. The film was in the making for four long years and made on a very low budget. Its shooting began with the filming of “Yeh Mera Dil”, that starred Helen. A sample from the song “Yeh Mera Dil” was used by The Black Eyed Peas for their hit “Don’t Phunk with My Heart” in 2005. The track won the band its first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance, while Kalyanji-Anandji, were awarded the BMI Award for being the originators of the melody.
13. The climax was to be shot at a real Catholic Cemetery but to cut down on costs, a set was created. In many scenes, one can see that the graves don’t have any names. However, the graves that came in focus were given names of crew members like cameraman and assistants.
14. Amitabh Bachchan while receiving the Filmfare Best Actor award for the film, dedicated it to producer Nariman Irani, and asked his widow to come up and take the award.
15. Don has elements of 1962’s film China Town which had Shammi Kapoor playing the double roles of both a gangster and his lookalike – a common man turned informer. Don, in turn had several remakes and adaptations in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. The 2007 Hollywood movie The Death and Life of Bobby Z had a similar premise to this movie too.
Pat yourself on the back if you have seen the film and remember all the connecting sequences we just told you. And if you still haven’t, pack your bags, and leave for the Himalayas! Because “Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi namumkin hai.”
Here is a song from the film to bring a smile on your face! 🙂