Don is an media franchise, centered on Don, a fictional Indian underworld boss. The franchise originates from the 1978 Hindi-language action thriller film Don. In 2006, a remake series began, with the release of Don: The Chase Begins Again. Its sequel was released in 2011, entitled Don 2. It has also been expanded to comics and video games.
The original film was written by Salim–Javed (Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar), directed by Chandra Barot, and stars Amitabh Bachchan in the titular role. The remake series was created by Javed Akhtar and his son Farhan Akhtar, with Shah Rukh Khan starring in the titular role. Other actors who have starred in the remake series include Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani, and Om Puri. Don is one of the highest-grossing Indian film franchises.
In the original film, the plot revolves around Vijay, a lookalike of Don who is asked to masquerade as him by a law enforcement officer. In the remake series, the plot revolves around Don himself. Don also has a number of South Indian remakes and spin-offs, including the Billa series, consisting of three Tamil films and a Telugu remake, as well as another Telugu remake and a Malayalam remake.
Producer and cinematographer Nariman Irani was in a financial mess when his film Zindagi Zindagi (1972) starring Sunil Dutt flopped. He was in debt for Rs 1.2 million and couldn't pay it off on a cinematographer's salary. When he was doing the cinematography for Manoj Kumar's major hit Roti Kapada Aur Makaan (1974), the film's cast (Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Pran) and crew (assistant director Chandra Barot) decided to help him out. They all recommended that he produce another film and that they will participate in the film. They all approached scriptwriting duo Salim–Javed, who gave them an untitled script that had already been rejected by the entire industry. The script had a character named Don. Bachchan would play Don, and Barot would direct the film. Aman and Pran would play key roles in the film. Don has a concept similar to Shakti Samanta's film China Town (1962) and may have been inspired by it; the movie had Shammi Kapoor playing the double roles of both a gangster and his lookalike, a common man turned informer, who turns out to be his brother. Don was itself remade several times.
The film took three-and-a-half years to complete. Before filming was completed, producer Irani had an accident on the set of another film he was working on, and died as a result. Barot faced budget restraints but he got help. Aman did not take any money for her work in the film. Barot showed it to his mentor Manoj Kumar, who felt that the film was too tight and needed a song in the midst of the action-filled film, and so "Khaike Paan Banaraswala" was added. The song "Khaike Paan Banaraswala" was actually to be used by Kalyanji Anandji for the film Banarasi Babu and picturised on Dev Anand, however since the song was not needed, Dev Anand had removed the song from the album. The film was released without any promotion on 12 May 1978 and was declared a flop the first week. Within a week, the song "Khaike Paan Banaraswala" became a big hit, and word of mouth spread, so by the second week, the film was also declared a big hit. The profits from the film were given to Irani's widow to settle her husband's debts.
Don begins, true to its title, as the story of one of the most powerful men in the business of crime, who in spite of being one of the most wanted on the list of Interpol, remains elusive to the police. Along with the police, Don (Amitabh Bachchan) makes a few other enemies through his merciless approach to running his organization, especially when he kills one of his own men, Ramesh, when the latter decides to leave the business. This introduces Don to two new enemies, Kamini (Helen), Ramesh's fiancée, and Roma (Zeenat Aman), Ramesh's sister. When Kamini seduces Don and attempts to have the police arrest him, her plan backfires as Don outsmarts her and the police in his escape, and in the process, Kamini is killed. A shattered, revenge-seeking Roma gets her hair cut short, trains in judo and karate, then enters Don's gang after deceiving them into thinking that she too is on the wrong side of the law. Don is impressed with her fighting skills and allows her to work for him, without realizing her true intentions.
Meanwhile, after a couple of unsuccessful attempts at nabbing Don, the police finally succeed, but Don dies during the pursuit, botching Officer D’Silva's plan to reach the source of all crime—the man Don reported to—through capturing Don alive. D’Silva buries Don's body, ensuring that people believe that he may still be alive. As luck would have it, D’Silva remembers his chance encounter with Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan), a simpleton trying to survive in the hustle and bustle of Bombay in order to support two small foster children, who is an exact lookalike of Don. D’Silva hatches a plan to transform Vijay into Don so he can arrest the rest of the gang.
Around the time Vijay "returns" to Don's gang as Don under the guise of amnesia, Jasjit (Pran), just released from jail, begins his mission of revenge against D’Silva and his search for his children Deepu and Muni, who had been saved and taken care of by Vijay. Vijay manages to replace the red diary with a blank one, and tells his gang that he is going to take revenge on the DSP, but is actually going there to give him the red diary. Roma goes after him, but Vijay survives the attack and he tries to explain to her that he is not Don, but Vijay. She refuses to believe him at first but D'Silva intervenes and tells her that the man she is trying to kill is indeed Vijay.
Meanwhile, as Vijay learns more and more about Don through his discovery of his diary and Roma's help, he announces to his colleagues that his memory is back. Celebrations ensue, as Don announces his return to the world, but things take a drastic turn when the police raid the celebrations, acting upon Vijay's information, but Vijay's only witness to his true identity, D’Silva, dies in the crossfire.
Tangled in a web of confusion where the police refuse to believe that he is Vijay, whereas his underworld gang realizes that he is indeed not Don, Vijay becomes not only hated by the police, but also by Don's right-hand man, Narang, and the rest of his gang. To add to Vijay's woes, Don's diary which he had handed over to D’Silva – his last hope of proving his innocence – is stolen by Jasjit in an attempt to track down his lost children, without realizing that Vijay is the one man who can reunite them. Vijay escapes the clutches of the police and the underworld with Roma's help and returns to his old self though he struggles to prove his identity and innocence. After a long fight of Vijay against Vardan's men Roma ends up getting the diary and one of the gangster's snatch it and burn it. The ending reveals that the diary which was burnt was, in fact, the fake diary and Vijay had the real one in order to trick Vardan, he gives the proof to the police and all charges are put against him, Vardan is arrested and Vijay returns to his old life.
Eighty percent of the film was shot in Malaysia, and was filmed around the tropical Langkawi island as well as the Petronas Twin Towers and the Jalan Masjid India area, which is the "little India" of Kuala Lumpur. Shah Rukh Khan was the first choice for the film and hence he was first approached and the first actor to be signed as the lead. Akshay Kumar was offered the role of Jasjit but he rejected it saying he might have accepted if he had been offered the part of Don. Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra underwent special martial arts training for their roles in the movie and both performed their own stunts.
In 2006, the drug trade is booming. The Malaysian Intelligence and Anti-Narcotic Department are called upon for assistance by their Indian counterparts. The Indian team is headed by DCP D'Silva (Boman Irani), who wants to break the drug operations of a drug lord named Singhania. Helping him along the way is Malik (Om Puri). Both of them know that in order to capture Singhania, they must capture his most loyal ally Don (Shah Rukh Khan). Don is extremely dangerous - he has even been known to kill one of his own men Ramesh, who attempted to leave Don and his gang without informing Don first. Ramesh's fiancé Kamini (Kareena Kapoor) decides to help D'Silva arrest Don but in the process, she is also killed by Don. Now, Ramesh's sister Roma (Priyanka Chopra) manages to get her way into Don's gang by persuading them that she is wanted by the police - her real plan is to murder Don in order to avenge her brother and his fiancé.
Don and his gang, consisting of Anita (Isha Koppikar) his girlfriend and Narang (Pavan Malhotra) travel to India to trade some drugs. D'Silva and his team follow them there - Don is injured fatally during a police chase. D'Silva keeps this a secret - he decides to track down a look alike of Don named Vijay (also Shah Rukh Khan) and asks him to pose as Don so that he (D'Silva) can get the gang arrested. Vijay agrees when D'Silva promises to admit Deepu (Tanay Chheda), a child Vijay looks after, to a good school. Meanwhile, Jasjit (Arjun Rampal), Deepu's real father has just been released from prison and becomes bent on killing D'Silva. This is because Jasjit was committing a crime in order to save Deepu and his wife from a gang of criminals and D'Silva had Jasjit arrested, thereby preventing Jasjit from saving his wife from death.
Vijay is admitted to the same hospital as Don, who is in a coma. Vijay, through an operation, soon gets all the scars which Don has, put on his body. Suddenly, Don dies of heart failure. When Vijay (as Don) re-enters the gang, he will have lost his memory - the more he learns about Don, the more he shall remember. The gang have a disc which contains some of their most vital information. Vijay agrees to take this disc to D'Silva - Roma decides to go with him. When they arrive, Roma attempts to kill Vijay (thinking he is Don). However, D'Silva arrives and tells Roma about his and Vijay's plan. Roma and Vijay now find themselves falling in love. D'Silva soon finds Singhania and kills him. In a police raid, Vijay and the gang members are all arrested by Malik and his team. D'Silva is killed in a blast - this is unfortunate for Vijay because D'Silva is the only person who could prove that Vijay is not the real Don. Now don's gang is against vijay of knowing his true identity. Vijay escapes and tries to pursue the disc he gave to D'Silva in order to prove his innocence.
Jasjit still continues to try to find his son, Deepu. It is revealed he is in possession of the disc - he receives a telephone call saying that if he wants to see his son again, he will have to bring the disc to the men who have Deepu hostage. At this meeting, it is revealed that D'Silva has been alive all along and is actually Vardhan, the longtime rival of Singhania. Jasjit manages to escape with his son. He meets Vijay and Roma and reveals that D'Silva is really Vardhan - the three hatch a plot to help Malik arrest Vardhan. The next day, Jasjit arranges a meeting with Vardhan, saying he will hand over the disc. Vardhan and Vijay engage in a fight until Vardhan is defeated and arrested. Vijay gets badly injured during the fight, and is rushed to hospital - before he leaves, Roma confesses her love for him. In a final twist, it is revealed that the real Don is alive and was pretending to be Vijay the whole time. In the hospital, Don quickly recovered from the coma and overheard D'Silva's conversation with Vijay. He switched places with Vijay, meaning Vijay died of heart failure. It is also revealed that the disc Don gave to the police was fake. In the end, Don and Anita both escape, knowing the police nor Roma will ever capture him.
The idea for a sequel to Don had been conceptualised ever since the first film released, and it was officially announced by Farhan Akhtar shortly after the release. However, he was involved with other commitments while Shah Rukh Khan needed to recover from a shoulder surgery, so he gave his dates to My Name Is Khan as it required very little physical exertion. In February 2010, Akhtar revealed that the script and locations had been finalised. The film was announced with the original cast reprising their roles, with the exception of Arjun Rampal and Isha Koppikar. Lara Dutta and Kunal Kapoor were cast as new characters in the film. In an interview with DNA India, Akhtar revealed that he decided to make the sequel to his 2006 remake of the 70s classic as it "had a lot to offer" and because it gave him a lot of freedom to explore the character of Don, which he was very fascinated with.
It marks Akhtar's return to direction after a gap of nearly five years, the last film he directed being Don. Anand Subaya was chosen as the main editor, while Ritesh Soni was roped in to manage the production of music. The digital intermediate and VFX of Don 2 were done by Pixion Studios while the 3D conversion was carried out at Reliance Mediaworks.
Don 2 had a different team of writers from the first film; it included Akhtar, Ameet Mehta and Amrish Shah. Akhtar stated that "The first film was my father's vision, but Don 2 is being written by fans only. These are yours truly and two new enthusiastic boys, Ameet and Amreesh, who came to me with their ideas on how the story can be carried forward. I've thrown my ideas at them. Don 2 is basically being written by three Don fans who are having a ball carrying the story forward." Khan became the first celebrity to register a tattoo in his name, when the 'D' tattoo ported on his arm in the film was registered for copyright protection.
In August 2011, the filmmakers announced that they would release it in 3D. The idea of the 3D conversion occurred to Akhtar while shooting and, after conducting conversion tests in Los Angeles, the producers decided to convert the entire film. The director of photography had shot it with special lenses which made it easier to give it a third dimension. Sidhwani revealed that he had the idea of converting the film into 3D after seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. Chuck Comisky, a veteran S-3D innovator who supervised the 3D stereo and visual effects of Avatar and Sanctum, was roped in.
The film opens five years after where the original film ended with Don (Shah Rukh Khan) narrating the story. The bosses of the European drug cartel meet in the French Riviera to discuss a new threat emerging from Asia. Don is jeopardising their business because he is able to sell drugs at a much lower price to their customers. The bosses send word out that Don must die. Don has been living in Thailand for the past five years and goes to a remote settlement to pick up a shipment of cocaine. Instead of normal transaction, Don has to fight his way out because the European drug dealers want him dead. He then inexplicably goes back to Malaysia where he surrenders to Roma (Priyanka Chopra) and Inspector Malik (Om Puri). Don is sentenced to death and sent to a Malaysian prison where he meets his old rival Vardhaan (Boman Irani). Don offers Vardhan his partnership, Vardhan agrees - they escape the prison by poisoning all the inmates and go to Zurich, Switzerland, where Don meets his trusted companion, Ayesha (Lara Dutta).
In Zurich, they retrieve the contents of a locker only Vardhaan could access. The locker holds a tape that shows J.K Diwan (Alyy Khan), the vice president of a Euro printing bank called DZB (Deutsche Zentral Bank = German Central Bank), sent by Fabian Kohl to bribe Singhania (Rajesh Khattar) to kill a competitor. Don blackmails Diwan into giving him the blueprints to the currency center so that he can steal the printing plates. Diwan gives him fake information and hires an assassin Jabbar (Nawab Shah) instead. Don manages to escape and forces Jabbar to work for him. Diwan, left with no choice, hands over the real information.
Don and his new team plan a bank robbery and carry out their plan by using hostages. After stealing the printing plates, Don is betrayed by Vardhaan and Jabbar but manages to escape. However, one of the members, Sameer (Kunal Kapoor) calls the police and Don is captured. Don threatens Sameer for informing the police. Unable to enter the bank and free the hostages, the police are forced to work with Don to get back into the bank in exchange for immunity in Germany.
Don and Roma manage to reach Vardhaan and Jabbar but Roma is shot because she refuses to kill Don when told to do so. This gives an idea that Roma still has feelings for Don, even though he killed her brother five years ago. Vardhaan and his thugs fight and Don manages to defeat them; Jabbar is killed in the process. He then gets his immunity papers and surrenders the disc (containing the information about his associates) and the plates. He takes Roma to an ambulance. Don and Roma exchange one glance at each other before the ambulance doors close. He later detonates a bomb he planted earlier in Diwan's car.
In a final scene it is revealed that Don actually still has one of the money plates, which the police believe is destroyed in the explosion. It is also revealed that Sameer was loyal to Don and giving his information to police was just a part of Don's plan. The police cannot do anything as Don has immunity and do not know that Don has a plate. Don also gives the police a disc of all his associates but it is really a disc with the names of the European drug cartel. All the members of the cartel are arrested and Don becomes the king of the European underworld. Finally Don tells Ayesha and Sameer that they do not know how rich they are going to become. When Ayesha reveals to him that she was afraid he would be caught he narrates his famous dialogue- "Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin namumkin hai" (It's not just difficult to catch Don, it's impossible), and an evil laugh of Don is heard as the end credits start to roll.
After the release of Don 2, Farhan Akhtar said that there is plan for Don 3. Akhtar has been writing the script since 2014 and is yet to complete it in February 2019. Shah Rukh Khan is set to return as Don. Boman Irani and Kunal Kapoor are reprising their roles as Vardhaan and Sameer Ali. Akhtar is going to play an Interpol officer in the film. Filming locations and casting are to be revealed soon. Amyra Dastur is to join the cast as a 23 year old prodigy and then becomes Don’s love interest. However, recent reports confirmed King Khan has opted out of Don 3 for personal reasons and Ranveer Singh is considered to replace against him. The reports further stated that the Zoya Akhtar produced franchise is still in the works, but with Khan bowed out, the makers are left without the main lead. Reportedly, the makers have approached Ranveer Singh for Khan’s spot in the hit franchise. Later on Farhan Akhtar confirmed that Shahrukh Khan has not opted out of the film series. Currently, the movie is on hiatus, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also Shah Rukh Khan taking a break from acting, following the box office failures of his last six films and is focusing more towards production and Netflix series at this time.
The titular lead of the series. He is a powerful criminal mastermind who, in spite of being one of the most wanted on the list of Interpol, remains elusive to the police. Though not evil, he is still hated because of his activities. Along with the police, Don makes a few other enemies through his merciless approach to running his organization, especially when he kills one of his own men, Ramesh, when Ramesh decides to leave the business. This introduces Don to two new enemies, Kamini, Ramesh's fiancée, and Roma, Ramesh's sister.
Meanwhile, after a couple of unsuccessful attempts at nabbing Don, the police finally succeed, but Don dies during the pursuit, botching Officer D'Silva's plan to reach the source of all crime—the man Don reported to—through capturing Don alive. D'Silva buries Don's body, ensuring that people believe that he may still be alive. D'Silva hatches a plan to replace Don with a lookalike, Vijay, who becomes an informant masquerading as Don.
In the remake series of Don, the plot has been altered, with a twist in Don: The Chase Begins revealing that it was right for the police to be nabbing Vijay constantly because he was, in fact, Don. It is revealed that Don was actually alive all along and had killed Vijay to take his place for a little while and later manages to escape. He only has a soft side towards Roma. In the deleted scenes of Don, Anita is seen telling Narang that Don has fallen for Roma.
As luck would have it, D’Silva remembers his chance encounter with Vijay, a slum-dwelling simpleton trying to survive in the hustle and bustle of Bombay in order to support two small foster children, who is an exact lookalike of Don. D’Silva hatches a plan to transform Vijay into Don and place him back into the crime nexus, but this time as a police informer.
In the original film, Vijay is the central protagonist. In the remake series, however, Don himself is the central protagonist.
A simple girl from town, she hates Don because he killed her brother Ramesh and her sister-in-law Kamini. In order to get revenge, Roma trains herself up and joins Don's gang with a secret desire to kill him. Unaware that the real Don is dead, she fights Vijay (who is then masquerading as Don). But when she gets to know the truth, she befriends him.
In Don: The Chase Begins Again, she comes to know that Don is still alive and continues to hate him. Her pursuit for Don continues in its sequel where she joins the Interpol. In Don: The Chase Begins Again, she falls for Vijay but by the end of the movie realizes he is Don. In sequel, she wants to seek revenge for his betrayal but when Vardhaan and Jabbar ask her to shoot Don or get shot herself, she chooses the latter indicating that she still has a soft corner for him.
The local DSP who was assigned the duty of capturing Don. He does succeed in capturing Don, but the latter dies in the process. However, only D'Silva knows of Don's death, so he secretly hires Vijay, a look-alike of Don, and advises him to disguise as the Don and give the police information about Don's gang. D'Silva is the only one who knows that Vijay's secret. Vijay succeeds, but D'Silva is killed, leaving Vijay on his own to prove his innocence.
In the reboot series, D'Silva survives and reveals himself to be Vardhan.
An ally of Don, she however doesn't have much to do with the story. She, like the rest of Don's gang, is unaware that Vijay is acting as their leader who is dead. But she does overhear Vijay's phone conversation with D'Silva, thus she finds out the truth. Vijay however quickly manages to trap her, thus saving himself (None of this happens in Don: The Chase Begins Again). In Don 2, a similar character named Ayesha replaces Anita.
The real underworld criminal, higher than Don. Vardhan masquerades himself as Interpol officer Malik. In the end, his truth is revealed and he is captured by police.
In the remake, Vardhan masquerades himself as DCP D'Silva, and his identity is not known to anyone except his gang members who pretend to be against him. Eventually Singhania finds out that D'Silva is actually Vardhan, but is killed before the news can reach anyone. Vardhan, who knows that Vijay is not Don, reveals himself to Vijay, who eventually manages to defeat Vardhan and get him arrested. Vardhan returns in the sequel, playing an important role. He seeks revenge against Don for putting him behind bars from the previous film but Don makes a deal with him and both of them break out of prison. He and Don assemble a team to steal some plates from Diwan but turns on Don and is once again defeated by him and placed back in prison.
The Interpol officer and assistant of DSP D'Silva. He eventually betrays D'Silva by killing him, but not before revealing himself as Vardhan.
In Don: The Chase Begins Again, Malik is not Vardhan. He later becomes an ally of Vijay (who, unbeknownst to Malik, is actually Don). He returns in Don 2, where he gives Roma the duty of capturing Don.
Singhania is Don's boss until he is killed by Vardhan/D'Silva in Don: The Chase Begins Again. He appears only briefly in the films.
Boris was the kingpin even higher Vardhan and Singhania. He was the boss of Vardhan and Singhania until he was killed by Singhania who took over his business when he wanted to give it to Vardhan.
In October 2011 a comic book based on Don 2, Don: The Origin, was published in Mumbai. A prequel, it details Don's past. About the comic, Ritesh Sidhwani said: "Don 2 takes off from where Don: The Chase Begins Again left off. In these five years, many have forgotten the film and must be curious to know how Don came into being. This original story will help them understand him and also offer a background on other characters like Roma and Vardhaan."
Excel Entertainment collaborated with India's largest video-game company, Gameshastra, on a console game. The firm developed a third-person action-adventure console game in which the player performs actions similar to Don's in the film. A social game, Don – The Social Mobsters Game (developed by Mango Games), was launched on Facebook. It is available on Android and PSN for PlayStation 3 platforms. Sidhwani said, "This is the first time a game is based on an Indian film that will be launched on four platforms. For an iconic character like Don, I think this was the best way to keep the hysteria going amongst his fans."