It must have been hard releasing the film after the producer was no more...
In fact, we made Don to bail producer Nariman Irani from debt. He was a cinematographer with actor-director Manoj Kumar. He produced his first film Zindagi Zindagi with Sunil Dutt, which flopped badly. He was in debt so, as his friends, we decided to bail him out.
Amitabh Bachchan, Pran, Salim-Javed and Zeenat Aman came forward to make a film. It took three years and six months to make Don. There were tremendous budget constraints, but we knew we had to make a good film.
At the time, Irani was shooting for a film at Rajkamal Studios in Mumbai. It was November and there was a sudden cloudburst. A wall fell on him while he was preparing to take a shot. He was hospitalised, but passed away soon after.
Check out: This Diwali/Eid: Don vs Jaan-E-Mann
How did the rest of you manage? What was your budget like?
Don was shot with a budget of around Rs 25 lakh. After Nariman Irani's death, we somehow managed to wrap the film without any money for promotion. When it became a big hit, we gave the money to Salma Irani, the producer's widow, to settle her husband's debts.
In those days, people used to care about others. There were values. Today, everything is about business. Films are now released with 800 to 1,000 prints and shown for just two weeks before being declared hits. In those days, we released only 120 prints. We cared for people in the industry and loved each other like family members.