For a film to become a cult is memorable, but for a film to be a cult for acting and music makes it a permanent part of forever bar!
Don (1978) is one such Bollywood feature film that made itself iconic through the grandeur of its production, dramatically captivating acting, CinemaScope style-quotient, and of course, music! The movie is also revered for propelling Big B’s career to new stratum. Of course, Zanjeer, Ram Balram, and Amar Akbar Anthony already happened, but this classic took four years in the making, and almost became a box office bust, before Kishore da’s most lively piece Khaike Paan Banaras Wala saved the day!
Every element of the song, from the sthayi, and antara, to taal and lyrics to the fun choreography, made it a song for ages.
As with many quirks of B-town, the song was not supposed to be in the movie, had it not been for Manoj Kumar. Bharath was invited to the initial screening of the film and advised the director Chandra to add a post-interval song to ease the pace of the story, which he felt, though gripping, is a little too tightly woven. Therefore, the song Khaike Paan Banaraswala was shot after the entire filming was complete. Also, the song was originally meant to be included in Dev Anand’s Banarasi Babu (1973) but in the end saw the light of day through Amitabh’s Khaas dance moves.
While recording the song, legendary Kishore da’ chewed paan for real to add that natural chutzpah. Apart from lifting the movie’s business (third highest grosser of 1978), the chuna-laced song earned Kishore Kumar his third best male playback singer Filmfare award. Also, Bachchan Sr. ate about 40 paans to red those lips but the chuna eventually burned AB's lips, and the superstar was in pain for weeks. May be that’s why he dialogue’d in the movie;
Mujhe do tarah ki ladkiyan pasand nahi aati:
Ek woh joh mere pass aane mein bahut derr lagaye ... aur ek woh joh bahut jaldi aa jaye.
Isi Liye Mujhe junglee billiyan pasand hai!
Lastly, Saroj Khan, whose choreography made Madhuri Dixit into what we know today, was a backup singer back in the day and used to watch Don every day at a particular Bombay theatre, only to watch Khaike Paan Banaraswala (ah, the pre-YouTube world). The theatre honored her passion by reserving a complimentary seat for her. Moreover, lest we forget, Don is a remake of a vintage English classic House OF Secrets!