Bollywood’s vintage diary: Did you know ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala’ was not written for ‘Don’?
Manoj Kumar’s right suggestion at the right time
‘Don’ was the directorial debut of Chandra Barot, who had previously assisted actor-director Manoj Kumar in films like ‘Purab Aur Pachhim’ (1970) and ‘Roti Kapada Aur Makaan’ (1974). After the film was ready, the first rough cut was shown to Manoj Kumar. After watching the entire film, the actor-filmmaker felt it was too tight and gripping that even taking a toilet break was difficult. Therefore, he suggested that the second half needed a song and it was then director Chandra reached out to composer duo Kalyanji–Anandji for another song.
Dev Anand’s indirect contribution from his movie ‘Banarasi Babu’ (1973)
After taking his mentor Manoj Kumar’s suggestion to add another song, director Chandra in a way got a chance to revive the simpleton and jolly character of Vijay, the lookalike of Don (played by Amitabh Bachchan). As destiny would have it, the character of Vijay loved eating paan in the film and composer duo Kalyanji–Anandji had a ready song written for actor Dev Anand’s film ‘Banarasi Babu’ (1973). This song titled ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala’ never made it to that Dev Anand-starrer for some reasons. But, director Chandra loved it instantly and took it as the ‘additional’ song for his film’s second half.
Kishore Kumar’s ‘natural effect’ recording
Like all the previous tracks in ‘Don’, ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala’ was also sung by late singer Kishore Kumar. During the time of recording of this song, the singer actually chewed on paan and a plastic sheet was kept in the studio for him to spat. Kishore da (as he is fondly called) did this to get a more natural effect in the song. The song was recorded and the result turned out to be as iconic as it could be. The song went on to fetch Kishore Kumar his third prestigious Filmfare award for Best Male Playback Singer.
Turned an inspiration to Saroj Khan to start choreographing again
There was a time in veteran choreographer Saroj Khan’s life when she had to quit it all (dancing) to go to Dubai when her family was facing a financial crisis. She has stated in one of her interviews saying, “I decided to go to Dubai and work as a secretary there. Dance was my life, but what to do, I had to arrange for money.” During Saroj’s stay in Dubai, ‘Don’ film was released and it seemed to bring a change in her again for her first love dancing. “I was totally fascinated by the ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala’ song. I went to watch the song again and again and again. Finally the theatre manager, who seemed to have noticed me, said, ‘I will keep an extra chair for you. You can just watch the song and go away. You don’t need to buy a ticket,” said the choreographer who returned to India in 1979 and started choreographing again. As luck would have it, Saroj Khan turned a successful choreographer and also got the chance to choreograph the same song for director Farhan Akhtar’s remake of ‘Don’ (2006) which starred Shah Rukh Khan stepping into Big B’s shoes.
The most iconic song ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala’
As director Chandra Barot had credited this song (in one of his interviews) that it played a significant role in bringing audience to theatres. Today, ‘Don’ is regarded as a cult film for various reasons, be it its taut script or the memorable performances. But, above all of them the first reason for its recall value is undoubtedly this iconic song ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala’. Literally, this song was destined to get featured in this film and become an indispensable part for everyone related to it. Truly, this is a timeless classic for its countless admirers out there. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/I08ex7M5WTw