'Don' turns 43: Lesser-known facts about the Amitabh Bachchan classic
While millennials will be familiar with Shah Rukh Khan's Don, it was, in fact, Amitabh Bachchan who immortalized the iconic character. Don, starring Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, and Pran, was a complete entertainer that still remains close to our hearts even after four decades. As we celebrate its 43rd anniversary, let's look back at some lesser-known facts and stories surrounding the cult classic.
Don, which released on May 12, 1978, had redefined gangster movies in Bollywood. Considered one of Bachchan's most iconic roles, it was, in fact, rejected by superstars Dev Anand, Jeetendra, and Dharmendra. The movie packed quite a punch with its catchy music, pulsating action, and incredible dialogues. The line Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hai is fondly remembered by fans to date.
The film begins with a wanted criminal, who dies during a police chase. The introduction of Vijay, his look-alike, takes the story forward. Vijay works his way to discover Don's illegal activities. Written by the famed Salim-Javed duo, it was directed by Chandra Barot. Interestingly, Don became 1978's third-highest grosser, after Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and Trishul, both starring Bachchan.
Bachchan had revealed that no one liked the title 'Don' for a Bollywood movie. He said, "There was at the time a very popular brand of vests, the banian, that were carrying the name Dawn. (sic)" "Don pronounced phonetically sounded much like that brand of undergarment in the popular market, and there was consternation in titling a film that conveyed an undergarment (sic)."
The movie paved the way for multiple remakes, including some of the biggest stars in India. Yugandhar, the Telugu remake, starred the iconic NTR in 1979. It was also remade as Billa (twice) in Tamil, starring Rajinikanth and Ajith. Further, Mohanlal starred as the don in the 1986 Malayalam remake Shobaraj. And there's of course the SRK starrer, along with a sequel, Don 2.
A Black Eyed Peas track Don't Phunk with My Heart is heavily sampled from Don's classic song Yeh Mera Dil. Did you know Khaike Paan Banaras Wala was initially a part of Dev Anand's Banarasi Babu? Bachchan filmed that song with a fractured leg. He had to eat nearly 30-40 pans every day to make his character's lips look red. A true legend, indeed!