40 Years of Don: Film Ko Bhoolna Mushkil Hi Nahi, Naamumkin Hai

Bollywood

40 Years of Don: Film Ko Bhoolna Mushkil Hi Nahi, Naamumkin Hai

Illustration: Akshita Monga

I

first remember watching Don as a four-year-old at Defence Cinema in Navy Nagar circa 1978. It was not a blast – it was an electric, emotional experience. The image of a poor circus artist, portrayed by Pran, escaping the bad guys on a vertiginous tightrope between skyscrapers, holding on to his two kids, is etched in the blue screen of my memory. Much the same way, the process of creating Amitabh’s best film as a ’70s superstar was a precarious gamble for the film’s stakeholders.

For starters, the film’s producer, the National Award-winning cinematographer Nariman Irani, was in deep debt – ₹12 lakh to be precise – thanks to a 1971 turkey, Zindagi Zindagi, starring Sunil Dutt and Waheeda Rahman. He was barely making ends meet as a cameraman, and that was not helping him get out of hock. It was the troika of Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, and director Chandra Barot who cajoled “Bawa”, as he was affectionately called, to take on one last gamble: A super-stylish flick that would set the cash registers ringing.

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