For a long time, Bollywood has been producing films that take inspiration from the crime genre, also known as gangster films, encompassing topics like mafia crime, con movies and vigilante justice. One of the most memorable examples of this is Don (1978), directed by Chandra Barot and starring Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Pran and Helen. The film is celebrated for its iconic dialogues, relatable characters and gripping storyline that remains relevant today.
Don revolves around a criminal mastermind known as ‘Don’, in charge of a criminal empire, who finds himself ensnared in a police investigation. The story features a number of twists and turns as Don devises creative methods to evade police and foil their attempts to bring him to justice. This fast-paced narrative of intelligent crime and clever puns soon made it a classic, with Bollywood fans citing it as one of Bachchan’s best onscreen performances.
In addition to its dramatic plot, Don is remarkable for its use of visual references. The movie uses flashbacks to vividly depict the past and create a picture of Don’s rise to criminal infamy, as well as scenes where characters are posed like characters in old-style morality posters. Cinematically, the film was groundbreaking in its time, with an impressive production design and spectacular action sequences.
According to noted film critic Raja Sen, ‘Don is an engaging, often innovative film that transcends the genre it belongs to and, more importantly, its time.’ Amitabh Bachchan’s performance as Don is credited as opening the doors to a fresh genre of crime films and is certainly one of the most celebrated gangster films in the history of Bollywood.
The musical score of Don also serves to underscore the sheer power that Don commands. Noted composer Kalyanji Anandji composed a series of iconic songs that were as dramatic as the arch of the film’s plot. This includes ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala’ and ‘Yeh Mera Dil Pyar Ka Deewana’, two of the biggest hits to come out of the movie.
Don has been credited with creating a wave of new gangster films in Bollywood that focus on the organized crime while inspiring the traditional action films to take a darker turn. The success of Don paved the way for films like Big Bazaar (1986), Kaante (2002) and Kaante (2002) to enter the big screen, drawing in fans from all over the country.
Influence of ‘Don 1978’
The success of ‘Don 1978’ has certainly produced its own legacy, both in the Bollywood industry and beyond. As well as inspiring a number of successful sequels, subsequent movies have taken inspiration from the film’s inventive style and story, as well as its powerful dialogue.
For instance, the 2011 Bollywood film ‘Don 2’ paid tribute to its predecessor in both its story and its iconic song, ‘Dilli ki Sardi’, where fans of the original can clearly recognise references and motifs that can be traced back to the 1978 classic.
The success of Don has also proven to be influential in the real world. For example, the movie’s famous nickname ‘Don’ has become a byword for any legendary criminal, with several high-profile Indian Mafia bosses not-so-affectionately earning the title.
In terms of its international influence, Don has been recognized by celebrated what at the box-office, with famous directors like Quentin Tarantino citing it as one of the most influential films of all time.
Upon its release, Don was met with great critical acclaim and has since been recognised as one of the greatest Bollywood films of all time. The film has won numerous awards and accolades, including the National Film Award for Best Feature Film and the Filmfare Award for Best Film.
In 2006, Don ranked first on a list of the top 25 Indian films compiled by noted film director Mani Ratnam and journalist Anupama Chopra, a testament to the film’s success and lasting legacy.
The film has also been highly acclaimed by celebrities, with Amitabh Bachchan praising it as ‘one of the most successful and exciting films of [his] career’. The film also stars iconic Bollywood star Zeenat Aman in her breakthrough performance as leading lady Roma, who similarly praised the film for its ‘great intensity and realism’.
It’s clear that, some 40 years after its release, Don 1978 remains a much-loved classic and an iconic part of Indian cinema. Its mix of action, drama and humour effortlessly blends genres to create a unique and unforgettable cinematic experience.
Legacy of Don can be felt throughout Bollywood. From mentions of the iconic ‘Don’ in various crime thrillers to sequels and remakes, the influence and influence of the original film have been felt throughout the industry.
Don serves as a great example of how gangster films can be successfully produced in Bollywood. It continues to withstand the test of time and has left an incredible mark on Indian cinema.
It is clear to see why Don 1978 has become such an iconic part of Bollywood cinema. The film offers an exciting and entertaining story set against the backdrop of the city of Mumbai.
The film’s visuals are iconic with its use of sharp costumes, bold colours and dramatic lighting. The film’s set design is also noteworthy with its creative use of lighting and building interiors to create complex locations for intense action sequences.
As for its filmmaking style, the movie balances its suspenseful story with frenetic action scenes, clever dialogue and memorable moments with the larger than life Don played by Amitabh Bachchan.
The soundtrack too is iconic with catchy and memorable songs that romanticise the gangster lifestyle and cleverly underscore the story.
Don 1978 remains one of the most groundbreaking Bollywood gangster films of all time. The movie’s influence can be seen in everything from the visual aesthetics used throughout the film to the iconic soundtrack and catchy dialogue.
The iconic performance of Amitabh Bachchan and the gripping story of a criminal mastermind continue to remain popular with Bollywood audiences, ensuring that Don 1978 will remain a classic for many years to come.
Don 1978 remains a classic and its influence has undeniably transferred into the realm of today’s Bollywood. From inspired filmmakers to new criminals ‘earning’ the title of Don, the film’s impact is undeniable.
Themes of crime, justice, power and survival remain relevant in the genre today, with crime dramas continuing to be a favoured genre by moviegoers. In this sense, Don continues to remain a classic and a source of inspiration for new filmmakers.
The success of Don 1978 is testament to the strength of Bollywood and its ability to produce innovative and exciting works. Its classic storytelling and gripping action sequences helped to develop a distinctive style of filmmaking that continues to remain popular today.
The film’s success has inevitably had a huge impact on pop culture, with its iconic score, memorable moments and larger than life performances serving as a reminder of the classic. Don 1978 remains one of the most celebrated gangster films in Bollywood and stands as a testament to the power of Indian cinema.