It wasn’t what the author had set out to narrate to his discerning readers. Behind the success of what is now called a cult film was a certain sense of emotion that has been lost in modern-day film-making. The debutant director Chandra Barot had promised to pull his producer, a well known cameraman, Nariman Irani out of his financial troubles. With his sheer grit and determination, Chandra pulled out the unimaginable on a shoe-string budget, much of which was borrowed from family and friends. Ironically, the producer had died before the release of the film and the director has remained a one-film wonder boy ever since. Chandra could not repeat the success of his debut film.
What made the film - with its slick theme, unforgettable dialogues and melodious music – tick with the audience shall remain an enigma. For those who have seen the film would agree that not only was the film fast paced, it never allowed the viewer to lose interest in the plot. Don had not only appealed to viewers of all ages, the phenomenal success saw its remakes in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Interestingly, it was a rare Salim-Javed story for which there were no takers at that time. It is, however, another matter that the abandoned story ended up scripting history.
Don is the story of simple film-making at its best and giving the audience something to cheer about as they watch the characters on the big screen. Chandra’s directorial skill is apparent throughout the film, giving every actor enough space and scope to justify the characters they play in the film. Don is also about having great music and catchy numbers suitably woven into the script. It might surprise readers that the most popular song in the film, Khaike Paan Banaraswala, was a later addition to the film, upon the insistence of legendary filmmaker Manoj Kumar who thought ‘the film was heavy in the second half and needed some relief.’
The Making of Don should not only make absorbing reading for those who have been part of its phenomenal box-office success but also interest the present-day generation who have been fed on its remake and the sequel. Krishna Gopalan’s narrative, born out of interviews with the cast and crew, is as fast paced as the film itself. It may be said that the immense staying power of this cult classic rests as much on the script as on it catchy one liners. ‘Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hai’ has lived up to the promise of making Don, both the character and the film, memorable and invincible.
The Making of Don
by Krishna Gopalan
Rupa Books, New Delhi
160 pages, Rs 195
SS / YS