Don (1978 film)

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Don 1978 poster.jpg
Directed byChandra Barot
Produced byNariman Irani
Written bySalim–Javed
StarringAmitabh Bachchan
Zeenat Aman
Music byKalyanji Anandji (composer)
Anjaan, Indeewar
CinematographyNariman Irani
Edited byWamanrao
Nariman Films
Release date
  • 12 May 1978 (1978-05-12)
Running time
166 minutes
Budgetest. ₹70 lakh[2][3] ($860,000)[4]
Box officeest. ₹7 crore[5] ($8.6 million)[4]

Don is a 1978 Indian Hindi-language action thriller film directed by Chandra Barot. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan and Zeenat Aman in lead roles. The film features music by Kalyanji Anandji, with lyrics by Anjaan and Indeevar. Amitabh Bachchan plays a dual role, as Bombay underworld boss Don and his lookalike Vijay. The film's plot revolves around Vijay, a Bombay slum-dweller who resembles the powerful criminal and underworld boss Don, being asked by law enforcement officer DSP D'Silva (Iftekhar) to masquerade as Don, in order to act as an informant for the police and track down the root of the criminal organization.

It was the third highest-grossing Indian film of 1978, and was classified a golden jubilee by Box Office India.[5][6] 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.[7] Don is also known for its theme music, which was used in the American Dad! episode "Tearjerker" (2008). Intro of another song "Yeh Mera Dil Pyaar Ka Deewana" was sampled by Black Eyed Peas for the song "Don't Phunk with My Heart" (2005).[8] 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.


Don begins, true to its title, as the story of one of the most powerful men in the business of crime. In spite of being on Interpol's "Most Wanted" list, Don (Amitabh Bachchan) remains elusive to the police. Besides the police, Don makes a few other enemies through his merciless approach to running his organization. Don kills one of his men, Ramesh, when Ramesh decides to leave the business. This introduces Don to two new enemies, Kamini (Helen), Ramesh's fiancée, and Roma, (Zeenat Aman) Ramesh's sister. When Kamini seduces Don and attempts to have the police arrest him, her plan backfires as Don outsmarts her and the police in his escape. In the process, Kamini is killed. A shattered, revenge-seeking Roma gets her hair cut short, trains in judo and karate, then enters Don's gang after deceiving them into thinking that she too is on the wrong side of the law. Don is impressed with her fighting skills and allows her to work for him without suspecting any ulterior motive.

After years of unsuccessful attempts at nabbing Don, the police finally succeed. Unfortunately, Don dies in the heat of the chase, botching Officer D'Silva's (Iftekhar) plan to reach the source of all crime—the man Don reported to—through capturing Don alive. D'Silva buries Don's body, ensuring that people believe he may still be alive; the only ones who know of Don's death are D'Silva, the graveyard priest, and his followers. As luck would have it, D'Silva remembers his chance encounter with Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan), a slum-dwelling simpleton trying to survive in the hustle and bustle of Bombay in order to support two small foster children, who are an exact lookalike of Don. D'Silva hatches a plan to transform Vijay into Don so he can arrest the rest of the gang.

Around the time Vijay "returns" to Don's gang as Don under the guise of amnesia, Jasjit (Pran), just released from jail, begins his mission of revenge against D'Silva and his search for his children Deepu and Muni, who had been saved and taken care of by Vijay. Vijay manages to replace the red diary with a blank one, and tells his gang that he is going to take revenge on the DSP, but is actually going there to give him the real diary. Roma goes after him, but Vijay survives the attack and he tries to explain to her that he is not Don, but Vijay. She refuses to believe him at first but D'Silva intervenes and tells her that the man she is trying to kill is indeed Vijay. Roma apologizes to Vijay, and joins him. Vijay hands over the diary to D'Silva. D'Silva reads the diary and discovers that the underworld crime boss, the man Don reported to, is a man named Vardhan, but he is unable to determine Vardhan's identity.

Meanwhile, as Vijay learns more and more about Don through his discovery of his diary and Roma's help, he announces to his colleagues that his memory has returned. Celebrations ensue as Don announces his return to the world, but things take a drastic turn when the police raid the celebrations, acting upon Vijay's information, but Vijay's only witness to his true identity, D'Silva, is shot in the crossfire, and Vijay is arrested because the police think he is Don. Vijay manages to talk the police into taking him to the DSP, who is in hospital. A desperate Vijay tries to get a gravely injured D'Silva to tell the police he is Vijay. Unfortunately, the DSP dies from his injuries and Vijay is imprisoned. However, he escapes the police truck while on the way to a high-security jail. He begins to fight for himself and tries to prove his innocence. Roma, now an ally of Vijay, agrees to do whatever she can to help him.

Tangled in a web of confusion where the police refuse to believe that he is Vijay while simultaneously his underworld gang realize that he is indeed not Don, Vijay incites the ire of both the police and Don's right-hand man, Narang. To add to Vijay's woes, the diary that Vijay had handed over to D'Silva – his last hope of proving his innocence – is stolen by Jasjit in an attempt to track down his lost children, without realizing that Vijay is the one man who can reunite them. Vijay escapes the clutches of the police and the underworld with Roma's help and returns to his old self though he struggles to prove his identity and innocence. In the process, he also discovers that the Interpol officer R. K. Malik (Om Shivpuri) is actually the underworld crime boss Vardhan, who had killed DSP D'Silva, and had also abducted the real R. K. Malik to take his place. After Vijay fights against Vardhan's men Roma ends up getting the diary. Vardhan snatches it from her and burns it. The ending reveals that the burnt diary was, in fact, the fake diary, and that Vijay had the real one in order to trick Vardhan. Vijay gives the proof to the police and all charges against him are dropped. Vardhan is arrested and the film ends with Vijay, Roma, Jasjit and his two children returning happily.

Cast and crew[edit]


  • Amitabh Bachchan as Don and Vijay: Don is the most wanted criminal. The police are always unsuccessful at nabbing him. However, in a police encounter, Don is fatally shot. Vijay is the spitting image of Don and is soon forced to pose as Don in order to help the police arrest Don's gang members.
  • Zeenat Aman as Roma: A simple girl whose brother Ramesh works for Don. Roma despises Don for his having murdered her brother. She joins Don's business with the secret motive to kill him.
  • Pran as Jasjit "JJ" Ahuja
  • Iftekhar as DSP D'Silva
  • Om Shivpuri as Vardan / INTERPOL operative R.K. Malik (Impostor)
  • Pinchoo Kapoor as INTERPOL operative R.K. Malik (Real)
  • Satyen Kappu as Inspector S. Verma
  • Jagdish Raj as a Police officer
  • Keshav Rana as a Police officer
  • Abhimanyu Sharma as Inspector Sharma
  • Prem Sagar as the Police inspector inspects the ambulance
  • Paidi Jairaj as Dayal, Judo & Karate Instructor
  • Kamal Kapoor as Narang
  • Arpana Choudhary as Anita
  • Helen as Kamini
  • M. B. Shetty as Shakaal
  • Mac Mohan as Mac
  • Baby Bilkish as Munni
  • Alankar Joshi as Deepu
  • Moolchand as Govinda
  • H. L. Pardesi as Banarasi, Pan seller
  • Gyanesh DJ as a Police officer
  • Sharad Kumar as Ramesh
  • Kedar Saigal as Doctor
  • Rajan Haksar as Kishan
  • Yusuf Khan as Vikram
  • Manik Irani as Goon



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 to 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.[9]

The film took three-and-a-half years to complete.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

The hit-song "Khaike Pan Banaraswala" was choreographed by P.L. Raj.[13]

Don was produced on a budget of 70 lakh[2] ($860,000).[4] Adjusted for inflation, its budget is equivalent to $3.4 million (22 crore) in 2016.[14]


Soundtrack album by
LabelEMI Records
ProducerKalyanji 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, younger brother of 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 Kumar04:43
2."Yeh Hai Bombay Nagaria"Kishore Kumar05:53
3."Khaike Pan Banaraswala"Kishore Kumar04:04
4."Jiska Mujhe Tha Intezar"Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar04:21
5."Yeh Mera Dil"Asha Bhosle04:18
Total length:23:17

Box office[edit]

At the Indian box office, the film grossed 7 crore[5] ($8.6 million).[4] Adjusted for inflation, its box office gross is equivalent to $34 million (218 crore) in 2016.[14]


Award Category Recipients and Nominees Results
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[edit]

Don series[edit]

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.[6]

Remakes in other languages[edit]

  • It was also remade in 1980 in Tamil as Billa, starring Rajinikanth. Helen, who played Kamini in the original Hindi film Don (1978), repeated her role in this remake. Billa was a breakthrough film for Rajinikanth,[7] establishing him as the top star of South Indian cinema.[15]
  • The 2006 Hindi remake starring Shah Rukh Khan, titled Don, inspired the Tamil directors who made the Ajith Kumar starrer Billa — a remake of the same-titled Rajinikanth film.
  • Billa II (2012) is a Tamil film starring Ajith and a prequel to Billa (2007).


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."[8]

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


  1. ^ Lal, Vinay; Nandy, Ashis (2006). Fingerprinting Popular Culture: The Mythic and the Iconic in Indian Cinema. Oxford University Press. p. 77. ISBN 0195679180.
  2. ^ a b "Excel Entertainment - Raees After 15 Years Of DCH Cinema - Box Office India".
  3. ^ "Don". Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d "Exchange Rate of the Indian Rupee (8.15 INR per USD)". Reserve Bank of India. 1978.
  5. ^ a b c "Box Office 1978". Box Office India. 20 October 2013. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013.
  6. ^ a b IANS (22 February 2010). "Farhan's next Don to go on floors in October". Sify. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b "Kalayanji, Anandji win BMI award". Indo-Asian News Service. 17 May 2006. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  9. ^ "filmibeat Page Not Found". Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2015. Cite uses generic title (help)
  10. ^ "Don, down the decades". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 20 October 2006.
  11. ^ " An exclusive interview with Chandra Barot, who made the first Don". Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  12. ^ " An exclusive interview with Chandra Barot, who made the first Don". Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  13. ^ "PONYTAIL 'n' pop, but desi". The Hindu. 29 September 2003. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "Rajanikant: His name spells box-office magic in the south". India Today. 31 July 1988.
  16. ^ "Don but Notout". The Indian Express. 29 December 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2018.

External links[edit]