Don (1978 film)

Don is a 1978 Indian Hindi-language crime action thriller film written by Salim–Javed (Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar), directed by Chandra Barot and produced by Nariman Irani. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Pran in lead roles. Amitabh Bachchan plays the titular Double Role, as Bombay underworld criminal Don and his lookalike simpleton Vijay. The plot revolves around Vijay, a Bombay slum-dweller who resembles the powerful criminal Don, being asked by Police Superintendent 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.

Don 1978 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChandra Barot
Written bySalim–Javed
Produced byNariman Irani
StarringAmitabh Bachchan
Zeenat Aman
CinematographyNariman Irani
Edited byWaman Rao
Music byKalyanji-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]

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 Bachchan to superstardom in his career.


The film begins with Mark Donald a.k.a. Don (Amitabh Bachchan) as one of the most successful criminals in Mumbai who always eludes the authorities, marking himself on Interpol's "Most Wanted" list. To that end, the police, led by DSP D'Silva (Iftekhar) and Inspector Verma (Satyen Kappu), is working with Interpol operative R.K. Malik (Om Shivpuri) in their attempts to nab Don. Meanwhile, Don cleverly tricks one of his henchmen Ramesh Bhagat (Sharad Kumar) and kills him when he tries to leave his gang without informing him. This provokes Ramesh's fiancèe Kamini Arora (Helen Khan) and Ramesh's sister Roma Bhagat (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 too before escaping once again. After this incident, Roma plans to avenge her brother and sister-in-law's deaths and trains herself in judo and karate. She then enters Don's gang after deceiving the members into thinking that she is on the wrong side of the law too, impressing Don in allowing her to work for him without suspecting any ulterior motive.

After years of unsuccessful attempts, the police nearly succeed in nabbing Don who, however, tricks them and manages to escape. In a long police chase, he is seriously injured by a gunshot which leads to his sudden disappearance. That night, D'Silva finds a wounded Don hidden in his car and plans to take him into custody alive, in order to reveal the source of crime that he relies on. Unfortunately, D'Silva's plan is botched due to the sudden demise of Don, who ends up succumbing to his injuries in the car.

Keeping Don's death a secret, D'Silva gets Don's body buried in a graveyard, while ensuring many people to believe he may still be alive. The only ones who know of Don's death are D'Silva himself, the graveyard priest, and his followers. As luck would have it, D'Silva remembers his previous encounter with a slum-dwelling simpleton Vijay Pal (also Amitabh Bachchan) who is an exact doppelganger of Don. He is a street performer and currently takes care of Deepu and Munni, two young children who are missing from their father.

Meeting up with Vijay, D'Silva explains Don's death 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 stage an "accident" that lands Vijay in the hospital under police custody. This prompts Roma and Don's gang, currently led by Don's right-hand man Narang Singh (Kamal Kapoor), to kidnap Vijay from the hospital, allowing him to infiltrate the gang under the guise of having amnesia.

Around the same time, a poor widower Jasjit Ahuja (Pran Sikand) is released from jail who wishes to seek revenge against D'Silva, as he arrested him for a past robbery that he was involved in along with Don's gang. It is also revealed that Jasjit took the job only with the intention of using the money to save his wife from death, but was caught by D'Silva in the act. Jasjit also intends to reunite with his children Deepu and Munni, the ones who are being taken care of by Vijay.

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 apologises to Vijay and agrees to help him out in taking down the gang members.

Using the diary, Vijay and Roma learn more about Don's past and feign moments of doing notorious acts to maintain their covers to Narang and the gang members. D'Silva even learns that the diary also reveals the existence of a notorious crimelord named Vardhaan Makhija serving as the source of crime in Mumbai, and that all of the gang members are working for him (even Don and Narang are nothing more than just middlemen reporting to Vardhaan). Despite this, there is no indication to finding out Vardhaan'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) raid the celebration, and D'Silva is shot in the crossfire, leaving Vijay, Narang and the gang members to be arrested as Malik and the police mistake Vijay for Don. To make D'Silva reveal the truth, Vijay takes the police to a hospital where D'Silva is lying unconscious. Unfortunately, D'Silva dies of his serious injuries in the hospital which leaves Vijay helpless. He is even unable to find the diary which also contains D'Silva's letter regarding Vijay's true identity. Vijay is eventually forced to escape from the police truck, and the commotion causes 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 Jasjit, who attempts to use it to reunite with Deepu and Munni. 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 Jasjit 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 the crimelord Vardhaan, 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 Vardhaan 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 Munni so that they can force the trio to surrender themselves and the diary to Vardhaan.

Meeting up in the same graveyard where Don was buried, Vijay, Roma and Jasjit meet up with Vardhaan and his gang members, who are holding Deepu and Munni hostage. During a long standoff between the trio and the gang members, Vardhaan 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 Vardhaan would try to escape, Vijay cleverly reveals that the diary that Vardhaan burned was the blank one that he switched, just as he hands the real diary over to Inspector Verma, exposing Vardhaan's identity and occupation to the police. As a result, Vardhaan ends up being arrested and sent to prison along with his gang members for their crimes, and all charges against Vijay are dropped while Jasjit is reunited with Deepu and Munni. The film ends with Vijay, Roma, Jasjit, Deepu and Munni happily walking away from the police station, satisfied that they took down Vardhaan and his gang members for good.



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. 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" sung by Kishore Kumar 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 $3.6 million (22 crore) in 2016.[13]


Soundtrack album by
LabelEMI Records

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 Paan 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 Paan Banaraswala" and "Yeh Mera Dil" respectively, both of which have also been remixed in the remake.

Song Singer
"Jiska Mujhe Tha Intezaar, Jiske Liye Dil Tha Bekaraar" Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar
"Khaike Paan Banaraswala" Kishore Kumar
"Ee Hai Bambai Nagaria" Kishore Kumar
"Main Hoon Don" Kishore Kumar
"Yeh Mera Dil" Asha Bhosle

Box officeEdit

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 $36 million (218 crore) in 2016.[13]


Award Category Recipients and Nominees Results
26th 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 Music Director Kalyanji-Anandji Nominated
Best Lyricist Anjaan for "Khaike Paan Banaraswala"

Legacy and influenceEdit

Don seriesEdit

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 languagesEdit


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.

The third episode of the Marvel Studios television series Ms. Marvel features "Yeh Mera Dil" in a wedding dance sequence.


  1. ^ a b "Excel Entertainment - Raees After 15 Years Of DCH Cinema - Box Office India".
  2. ^ "Don". Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Box Office 1978". Box Office India. 20 October 2013. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Farhan's next Don to go on floors in October". Sify. IANS. 22 February 2010. Archived from the original on 19 November 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  5. ^ a b Girija Jinnaa (15 June 2007). "'Yesterday I was a conductor, today I'm a star'". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 17 June 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Kalayanji, Anandji win BMI award". Indo-Asian News Service. 17 May 2006. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  7. ^ "filmibeat Page Not Found". Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2015. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  8. ^ "Don, down the decades". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 20 October 2006. Archived from the original on 6 November 2007.
  9. ^ " An exclusive interview with Chandra Barot, who made the first Don". Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  10. ^ " An exclusive interview with Chandra Barot, who made the first Don". Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  11. ^ "PONYTAIL 'n' pop, but desi". The Hindu. 29 September 2003. Archived from the original on 8 July 2004. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Exchange Rate of the Indian Rupee (8.15 INR per USD)". Reserve Bank of India. 1978.
  13. ^ a b "Exchange Rates (68.3 INR per USD)". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 2016. Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Rajanikant: His name spells box-office magic in the south". India Today. 31 July 1988.
  15. ^ "Don but Notout". The Indian Express. 29 December 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2018.

External linksEdit