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Amitabh's "DON" : An Unknown Misery

The Story Of Losers In Successful Blockbuster "DON"
Vishal Shinde Oct 15, 2019

Amitabh Bachhan

Amitabh ,  the legendary superstar of Bollywood , has many hit films on his record 

Film " DON " is one of his top 10 blockbusters 

Amitabh's DON : The Blockbuster

"DON" is the 3rd highest grossing film in 1979 after "Mukaddar ka Sikandar" and "Trishul"

Film "DON" made a whooping income on Box Office crossing Rs. 3.50 Crores in 1979

......... Also means Rs.100 Crs.  plus if was made today  

" DON " , a story of Misfortunes Too

One side of Film Don is Success, Luck, Glamour, Blockbuster....

But the other story of Film " DON " also means a failure , a Bad Luck, a Lost Game  for couple of key players 

The History

The producer of film DON , Nariman Irani , a renowned cinematographer in Bollywood , had produced a movie starring Sunil Dutt " Zindagi Zindagi " .

The film didnt work well on the box office and the producer Irani had to bear a huge debt .
 Working merely as a cinematographer the debt was too high to be paid back.

So young assistant director Chandra Barot took the lead and came up with an idea of producing a blockbuster film to repay the loans.
But it wasnt that easy as Irani was short of finances .

Here it was Superstar Amitabh Bachhan, actress Zeenat Aman who accepted to act in the lead roles and co-operate.

Veteran actors like Pran, Helen & Iftikaar also got ready to be a part of the the team .

The Director

Nariman Irani alias ' Bawaji ' handed over the responsibiity of direction to the young assistant director of Manojkumar , Chandra Barot .

The Script

The script of 'DON' has a interesting story with it . 
Chandra wasnt ready to have anyone else as the script-writer than the duo Salim-Javed .
And it was very difficult as they were very busiest and costliest screen-writers. 

The Script

Salim saheb told about a script , which was rejected by celebrities like Dharmendra, Dev Anand, Jitendra. 
Industry experts were also laughing at the title 'DON' as it was similar to the undergarment brand.

The Script

The Bollywood films were entangled in dacoits, Mother-Son-Brother family dramas, lost and found formulae and thus ' DON ' appeared too different . 
But Irani & Barot decided to play a gamble on it .

The Music Direction

Kalyanji and Anandji Shah took this opportunity as a music director .
It was very difficult to challenge 'Panchamda' R. D. Barman , who was at his peak point of popularity.

They were supported by lyricist Anjaan & Indeewar .

Cinematography

Producer Nariman Irani himself was going to take over the responsibility of Cinematography 

The entire team was ready . Irani & Chandra began with 'DON' trying their lucks.

True Hard Efforts

The entire team worked hard . Gave their best for the most unwanted script by the film industry. 

Amitabh chewed almost 40 'Paans' [Chewing leafs and herbs] to render a factual lips and tongue colour and justify the song " Khaike Paan Banaras Wala " .

True Hard Efforts

During the same song " Chhora Ganga Kinare wala " Amitabh is seen performing limping sort of dance steps . 

Actally his feet was injured on the sets of film ' Laawaris ' & he was truelly limping but viewers never knew it and loved the dance .

A Weak Opening

DON took three and half years for completion . 

And was released on May 12, 1978 . In the opening  week DON faced a poor business .

The Blockbuster Film

In the second week the song "Choora Ganga Kinare wala" was added . The revenues shot up due to the the strong word of mouth publicity. 

The gamble played was a grand success.

Two Tragedies Of DON

The entire cast , crew, technicians of DON earned money, fame and good business in future. 

.....Two men were exception to this & they were the actual key men behind the film , Producer-Cinematographer Nariman Irani & Director Chandra Barot.

DON's Tragic Twist

The film was completed . Few months were left for the release
 
And....

 Producer-Cinematographer Nariman Irani , died in an accident  in Dec 1977, 
and never saw the grand success of his trendsetter film.

The Second Tragedy

The young , dynamic , successful director of DON Chandra Barot , was the talk of the Town Bollywood overnight. 

More than 50 production houses were at his doorsteps requesting  direction for their films.
But Chandra decided to select only few films cautiously .

Director Chandra's Shocking End

Chandra selected 4 films with good content . But it's always said the luck plays a fatal role .

All these 4 films , which Chandra chose very cautiously , to build  a successful career, were closed down in next 7 years due to some or the other reasons .

The Aftermath of the Tragedies - 1

The entire earnings, after the payments of Nariman's debts, were handed over to his wife . 

Later on Farhaan Akhter bought the remake rights of DON in 2006 which again fetched good royalty for the successors of Nariman Irani

The Aftermath of the Tragedies - 2

Director Chandra Barot's 4 films went very slowly and finished one day in the bins . Bollywood easily forgot the great director behind DON .

He had no work later . And had to survive as an assistant director & was at the same stage where he was earlier .
You ask any film lover about the director of DON and 99.99 %  dont know the answer !!!!
Thus, these two people full of potentials, went behind the curtains forgotten by Bollywood , also the film lovers never knew this shocking side of the film . 

......But their baby , Film " DON " became a legend , the unforgettable musical box office blockbuster of Bollywood.