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 Rs12 lakhs and couldn’t pay it 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 will participate in the film. They all approached scriptwriting duo Salim-Javed, who gave them an untitled script that had already been rejected by the entire industry. 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. The film took three-and-a-half years to complete. Before filming was completed, producer Irani had an accident on the set of another film he was working on, and died as a result. Barot faced budget restraints but he got help. Aman did not take any money for her work in the film. Barot showed it 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 recorded. The film was released without any promotion on 12 May 1978 and was declared a flop the first week. Within a week, the song “Khaike Paan Banaraswala” became a big hit, and word of mouth spread, so by the second week, the film was also declared a big hit. The profits from the film were given to Irani’s widow to settle her husband’s debts.
What a story behind the movie – Don