Song Sketch

Khaike Paan Banaras – Don – The Banaras Paan Effect

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“Don ka intezar toh gyarah mulkon ki police kar rahi hai, par Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hai.”
Ask any cinema lover from late 70s to 2019, and he/she must be remembering this iconic dialogue penned by Salim-Javed.
Don (1979). A proven timeless classic! This Amitabh Bachchan and Zeenat Aman starer action pack thriller and out and out entertainer directed by Chandra Barot was not only special for its fascinating script, archetypal dialogues and astounding performances but also for its stupendous soundtrack composed by Kalyanji-Anandji. The duo’s music for a song of this film “Yeh mera dil..” had been incorporated by ‘The Black Eyed Peas’ in their number “Don’t Phunk With My Heart”, which won this American hip-hop group a Grammy award.

And when after approx three decades the film’s remake Don-2 was made by Farhan Akhtar, this modern version of Don borrowed an abiding composition with an irresistible appeal from the original soundtrack composed in 1978 by Kalyanji-Anandji.

Let’s talk about that utterly enchanting song – “Khaike paan Banaras wala”.

Lyricist Anjaan has written very captivating lyrics for the song which was nominated in the best lyrics category of Filmfare Awards. The lyrics for this song had been written in khari boli of Uttar Pradesh which seemed taylor-made for the onscreen character Vijay. But the fact is, this song was neither made for Don nor for Amitabh Bachchan! Amitabh Bachchan had shared this trivia once on Twitter. His tweet read as : “An after thought, that became THE thought .. song ‘khaike paan banaras wala’ was done after film DON was completed ..”
This exemplary song “Khaike Paan Banaraswala” was actually written for Dev Anand’s film ‘Banarasi Babu’. The song was shot after the entire filming was completed and added post interval to balance the action-packed pace of the film. As I had read somewhere, actor/director Manoj Kumar, who saw the rushes, said the film was so gripping that even taking a “toilet break” was difficult. Hence, the song was included on his recommendation.

Kalyanji- Anandji was one of those composers of hindi film music who have always made a brilliant use of dholak and other traditional rhythmic instruments. This song from Don is one of the best examples for the same. Khanjari!! Trying to recall the songs from the other leading music directors wherein we have listened such a sweet use of this lesser discussed instrument! Shehnai(s), mandolin, violins, all the other instruments peep into the song for a while but here rhythm section is in no mood to share the credit with anything else and steals the show completely. Each of pounding beats here make your feet or fingers tap at least even if you are an absolute non-dancer.
Besides brilliant rhythm section and lovely interludes, the MOST likable part of this song is Kishore Kumar’s awesome singing. During the recording, Kishore Kumar actually chewed paan and spat it on a plastic sheet to make it seem natural !! What a gripping start! Providing perfect channeling to Vijay’s character! Also not to forget the amazing chorus and outstanding fellow dancers : “O memsaab… Humre sang nachaa ho naacha…”

The song is sheer delight for both eyes and ears. Arguably one of the most transfixing dance sequences from Amitabh Bachchan’s entire career. You actually can’t afford to miss even a single frame or step while watching this ‘Ganga kinaarewala chhora’ froliking with quite a matchless and electrifying energy. Replacing third part of a three piece suit with a gamchha tied on his head, chewing a banarasi paan so unpretentiously and dancing flawlessly in his signature style.. A wholesome entertainer! At least I have yet to remember any other actors creating such charishma on screen in such a raw and rustic look. Both, Amitabh Bachchan and Zeenat Aman have performed the song with an arresting charm, but AB here is providing so tough competition to one of the most captivating and stunning Divas of Bollywood that many like myself would prefer to notice here mostly the super star only. “Ek kanya kunwaari… hamri surat pe mar gai haye…” Obvious effect. A lot could have been written on this honest-to-good looking endearing star and way he has performed this song but it might have taken one more full write-up.

Remake? Eh, what’s the better way to accept the fact that we can’t get over or get any better than the original? What say?

Did you know there was a Tamil remake of the film? Not only that, they have also created the same song situation. Billa (1980), where our own Thalaiva Rajnikanth plays the Don!! He’s also the dance steps and the dress to match with that of Amitabh. Watch for yourself!!


  1. Ajay

    September 14, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Very well written. “Khaike Paan Banraswala” was a HUGE hit song. The song was/is a ‘crowd puller’ into the cinema hall. Unanimously topped in Binaca Geetmala finals, 1979. Also witnessed the downpour of coins on the screen for this song. I had seen this film FIRST Day FIRST show

  2. Prashant Maurya

    September 14, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Well it’s a well articulated post.
    Khadi boli ✔
    Gamchha ✔
    Ganga kinare wala ✔
    Paan ✔
    All minute details are rightly illustrated and beautifully expressed in words.
    Thank you for such a lovely write up.

  3. Pingback: Carnival of Blogs on Golden Era of Hindi Film Music – September, 2019 – The world is too small? or Is it?

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