Zanjeer (1973 film)

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Zanjeer 1973.jpg
Film poster
Directed byPrakash Mehra
Screenplay bySalim–Javed
Story bySalim Khan
Produced byPrakash Mehra Productions
CinematographyN. Satyen
Edited byR. Mahadik
Music byKalyanji-Anandji
Asha Studios
Chandivali Studio
Filmistan Studio
R.K. Studios
Swati Studios
Distributed byPrakash Mehra Productions
Baba Digital Media
Digital Entertainment
Eros Entertainment
Release date
  • 11 May 1973 (1973-05-11)
Running time
147 minutes
Budget9 million[1]
Box office174.6 million[1]

Zanjeer (transl. Shackles) is a 1973 Indian Hindi-language action crime film directed and produced by Prakash Mehra, written by Salim–Javed and starring Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Pran, Ajit Khan and Bindu.At a time when India was suffering from corruption and low economic growth, and the common man was left with frustration and anger over the system, Zanjeer began shifting Hindi cinema in a violent and aggressive direction. This film also ended the struggling period for Bachchan, and turned him into a rising star. The film was a blockbuster success, domestically in India and overseas in the Soviet Union.

It was the first of many collaborations between the screenwriter duo Salim–Javed and Bachchan. Ever since Zanjeer, Salim–Javed wrote many of their subsequent scripts with Bachchan in mind for the lead role, and insisted on him being cast for their later films, including blockbusters such as Deewaar (1975) and Sholay (1975), establishing Bachchan as a superstar.[2] In addition to being a turning point for Bachchan's career and Hindi cinema, Zanjeer was also a turning point for South Indian cinema, with Bachchan's acting inspiring future Tamil Superstar Rajinikanth.[3] Zanjeer remains an important film in the history of Indian cinema and is regarded as a classic today. Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Raaj Kumar, and Dharmendra were offered the lead role, but they did not accept the role. It is a matter of common knowledge that it was the romantic era of Rajesh Khanna. Romance was on the rise and Zanjeer did not have a single romance scene between the lead pair Amitabh and Jaya. All actors who refused the film had a serious concern about a dent in their image if they did this film. Bachchan, on the other hand, had little to lose; he chose the film and started his way to superstardom.


In Diwali, a young Vijay Khanna witnesses the murder of his parents, committed by a man of unknown identity with a white horse on his charm bracelet, Zanjeer. Due to this traumatic event, Vijay has recurring nightmares of a white stallion. Even as a child, Vijay stays socially awkward from the other kids and believes himself to be alone. 20 years later, Vijay has become a Inspector in a town where few are just. He receives complaints about a local man named Sher Khan, who is running gambling dens. When he calls Khan in for questioning, Khan's superiority complex chafes against Vijay's police authority as he scolds the officer, telling him he only orders him around due to his uniform.

Vijay takes him up on his challenge, and meets him in street clothes to fight him. After the fight, Sher Khan not only closes his gambling dens, but has gained respect for Vijay. He becomes an auto mechanic, and reforms his ways. Various dealings of the crime syndicate continue unabated throughout the town, all tracing back to gang leader named Teja. A mysterious caller continually phones Vijay to inform him exactly when a crime is about to take place, but hangs up before Vijay can extract any more information out of him. When a traffic accident perpetrated by gang members leaves several children dead, a street performer named Mala becomes the witness where she is bribed by Teja's men to keep quiet. Mala is questioned by Vijay, who becomes enraged at her and to sway her differently, takes her into the morgue to view the mangled bodies of the children.

Mala has a change of heart and comes clean, asking that the bribe be donated to an orphanage. She identifies the man behind the traffic accident. After learning that Mala has broken her word, Teja's men chase after her through the night. She runs, narrowly escaping across the train tracks, and arriving at Vijay's house, desperate for shelter. He allows her to stay, and the two discover that they are both orphans, and discuss the fears associated with living alone. Vijay kindly takes her to his brother and sister-in-law, and, under the sister-in-law's tutelage, Mala begins to learn how to keep the house clean, as well as learn English. Eventually, Teja frames Vijay for bribery, who is later imprisoned for 6 months on false charges.

When Vijay is released from jail, he plans to take revenge. Mala by this time has developed from a frightened stranger seeking his help to having a romantic interest for him. She begs him, to seal their relationship, that he must stop being so vengeful. He agrees, but soon must come to terms with such a promise. In a Christian cemetery, Vijay encounters the informant who had called him in the past when he was an inspector. The man, De Silva, appears half-insane, holding onto an empty bottle. He tells that several years before on Christmas, his three sons drank poisoned moonshine and died from it. Until the killer is found, he will continue to wander with the bottle. When local criminals mocked him, he vowed to get back at them as he could: by phoning the inspector when a crime was about to happen.

After hearing this news, Vijay becomes depressed, torn between his desire to help the grieving De Silva, and his need to keep his promise to Mala. Along with a concerted effort by Sher Khan to cheer up Vijay, Mala relents, vowing she will not try to control him and tells him to do what is right. The trail of tainted moonshine leads back to Teja and his men. Upon finally cornering the crook on Diwali, fireworks bursting overhead, Vijay also finds out that the person who murdered his parents, 20 years before, on the same night, is Teja, recognisable by the shackles (Zanjeer) on his wrist. Sher Khan helps him to fight Teja and his men, and take justice into their own hands, until the police arrive. When the hapless police inspector is held at gunpoint by Teja, Vijay manages to drop to retrieve a pistol from the ground, and shoots Teja dead, who falls into the swimming pool.


Actor/Actress Character/Role Notes
Amitabh Bachchan Inspector Vijay Khanna Protagonist
Jaya Bhaduri Mala
Pran Sher Khan
Om Prakash De Silva Special appearance
Ajit Khan Seth Dharam Dayal Teja Antagonist
Bindu Mona
Iftekhar Police Commissioner Singh as Iftikhar
Keshto Mukherjee Gangu as Kesto Mukherji
Randhir Lala Ashok Sherkhan's friend – Usurer
Gulshan Bawra Street Singer Song Deewane Hain
Sheela Vaz Street dancer Song Deewane Hain'
Ram Mohan Kabir
Yunus Parvez Constable
M. Rajan Ranjeet Vijay's father
Purnima Sumitra Vijay's mother
Nandita Thakur Shanti Bhabhi
Satyendra Kapoor Police Inspector as Satyen Kappoor
Ashalata Wabgaonkar Police Inspector's wife Vijay's stepmother (as Asha Lata)
Ram Sethi Constable
Sanjana Street Dancer Song Deewane Hain
Amrit Pal Man offered 'Sher Khan' money to kill as Amrit Paul
Bhushan Tiwari Smuggler, Teja's man as Bhooshan Tiwari
Javed Khan Smuggler, Teja's man as Khan
Ranvir Raj Smuggler, Teja's man as Ranbir
Krishan Dhawan Smuggler, Teja's man as Dhawan
Mac Mohan Man caught in Teja's liquor warehouse as Mack Mohan
D. K. Sapru Patil as Sapru
Goga Kapoor Goga as Goga


The film's story, script, and screenplay were written by Salim Khan, who also conceived the "angry young man" persona of Vijay, played by Amitabh Bachchan. After Khan completed the script, Khan shared the credit with Javed Akhtar, as the screenwriting duo Salim–Javed.[4]

Zanjeer was written as a crime film with violent action, and the main character Vijay was conceived as a hard-hitting, 'angry with the system' young man.[3] At a time when Hindi cinema was dominated by romance films with "romantic hero" leads, Prakash Mehra saw the script as potentially groundbreaking and came on board as the film's director. However, they were struggling to find an actor for the lead "angry young man" role, which was turned down by a number of actors due to it going against their "romantic hero" image; at the time, the industry was dominated by the "King of Romance" Rajesh Khanna and similar "romantic hero" actors.[3] The role of the lead was first offered to many leading men of the time, including Raaj Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar, all of whom turned down the offer. Eventually, it went to a newcomer, Amitabh Bachchan, and established his career.[5]

Salim-Javed were responsible for discovering and casting Bachchan. At the time, Bachchan was a "failed newcomer" who, by the age of 30, had twelve flops and only two hits (as a lead in Bombay to Goa and supporting role in Anand).[3] According to Javed Akhtar, they "saw his talent, which most makers didn’t. He was exceptional, a genius actor who was in films that weren’t good."[2] According to Bachchan, Salim-Javed were close to Rajesh Khanna and could've convinced him to play the role, but they instead opted for the unknown Bachchan. According to Salim Khan, they "strongly felt that Amitabh was the ideal casting for Zanjeer". Bachchan stated, "Salim-Javed saw a fight sequence in Bombay to Goa where I was chewing gum throughout the fight, as an indicator that I would be the right choice for Zanjeer.”[3] Salim Khan was responsible for introducing Bachchan to Mehra.[4]

For the female lead, Mumtaz was initially offered the role. However, she was engaged at the time, and opted out, choosing marriage over career. Jaya Bhaduri, who was engaged to Bachchan at the time, immediately agreed to take the role, for the sake of her future husband.[3]

For the film's promotion, the posters of Zanjeer initially did not have the names of Salim-Javed on them. Salim-Javed hired a man with a jeep to drive around and paint "Salim-Javed" in stencil font on all the Zanjeer posters from Juhu to Opera House. However, the man was sometimes drunk, which led to him painting "Salim-Javed" on the wrong places, such as Pran's face or Bachchan's hands, for some posters.[6]



The music was composed by Kalyanji Anandji and the lyrics were written by Prakash Mehra, with the exception of 'Yaari Hai Imaan Mera', which was penned by Gulshan Bawra.

1."Chaaku Chhuriyan Tez Karaa Lo"Asha Bhosle 
2."Diljalon Ka Dil Jalaake Kya Milega Dilruba"Asha Bhosle 
3."Deewane Hai, Deewanon Ko Na Ghar Chahiye"Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi 
4."Banaake Kyun Bigaada Re"Lata Mangeshkar 
5."Yaari Hai Imaan Mera Yaar Meri Zindagi"Manna Dey 

Box office[edit]

With a total domestic Indian gross revenue of 6 crore in 1973, including a nett collection of 3 crore, the film was declared a "Super Hit" according to Box Office India.[7] This was equivalent to a domestic gross of US$7.75 million in 1973,[n 1] or US$47 million ( 282 crore)[9] in 2016.

It was also an overseas blockbuster at the Soviet box office, where it drew an audience of 37.3 million viewers in 1980.[10] Its overseas gross in the Soviet Union amounted to 9.325 million Rbls (US$14.58 million, 11.46 crore), equivalent to US$48 million ( 282 crore) in 2016.[n 5]

Worldwide, the film grossed a total of 17.46 crore ($22.33 million). Adjusted for inflation, its worldwide gross is equivalent to 564 crore ($84 million) in 2016.

Awards and nominations[edit]

21st Filmfare Awards:[13][14]



Year Film Language Cast Director
1974 Nippulanti Manishi Telugu N. T. Rama Rao, Kaikala Satyanarayana, Latha S. D. Lal
1974 Sirithu Vazha Vendum Tamil M. G. Ramachandran, Latha S. S. Balan
1980 Naayattu Malayalam Jayan, Prem Nazir Sreekumaran Thampi
2013 Zanjeer Hindi Ram Charan, Priyanka Chopra Apoorva Lakhia
2013 Toofan Telugu

A remake, with the same name, released on 6 September 2013. Zanjeer featuring Ram Charan Teja as Vijay, Priyanka Chopra as Mala, Sanjay Dutt as Sher Khan, Prakash Raj as Teja, Mahi Gill as Mona, Ankur Bhatia as Bosco, and Atul Kulkarni. Priyanka Chopra contracted the film for 90 million Indian rupee turning her the highest paid Indian actress.[15] The film is also simultaneously shot in Telugu titled Toofan, featuring the same cast except Srihari replaces Sanjay Dutt as Sher Khan, and Tanikella Bharani replaces Atul Kulkarni.


  1. ^ 7.7420 Indian rupees per US dollar in 1973[8]
  2. ^ 37.3 million tickets sold,[10] average ticket price of 25 kopecks[11]
  3. ^ 0.6395 Rbl per US dollar in 1980[12]
  4. ^ 7.8629 Indian rupees per US dollar in 1980[8]
  5. ^ Zanjeer in Soviet Union: 9.325 million Rbls[n 2] (US$14.58 million,[n 3] 11.46 crore)[n 4] in 1980[10] (US$48 million or 282 crore[9] in 2016)


  1. ^ a b "Zanjeer 1973 Movie Box Office Collection, Budget and Unknown Facts 1970's Box Office Collection". KS Box Office. 31 January 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Deewaar was the perfect script: Amitabh Bachchan on 42 years of the cult film". Hindustan Times. 29 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Revisiting Prakash Mehra's Zanjeer: The film that made Amitabh Bachchan". The Indian Express. 20 June 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Why Salim Khan was angry with Amitabh Bachchan". The Times of India. 13 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Casting chronicle: One's miss is another's hit". India Today. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  6. ^ Khan, Salim; Sukumaran, Shradha (14 August 2010). "Sholay, the Beginning". OPEN Magazine.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Box Office India. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b "PACIFIC Exchange Rate Service : Foreign Currency Units per 1 U.S. Dollar, 1950–2020" (PDF). p. 3. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Yearly average rates". Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  10. ^ a b c Sergey Kudryavtsev. "Зарубежные популярные фильмы в советском кинопрокате (Индия)".
  11. ^ Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire that Lost the Cultural Cold War, page 48, Cornell University Press, 2011
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 July 2017. Retrieved 4 July 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Best Screenplay Award". Filmfare Award Official Listings, Indiatimes. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  14. ^ "1st Filmfare Awards 1953" (PDF). Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Priyanka becomes highest paid Indian Actress". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 14 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.

External links[edit]