Zanjeer (1973 film)

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Zanjeer 1973.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Prakash Mehra
Produced by Prakash Mehra
Prakash Mehra Productions
Written by Salim-Javed
Starring Amitabh Bachchan
Jaya Bhaduri
Om Prakash
Ram Sethi
Ajit Khan
Music by Kalyanji-Anandji
Cinematography N. Satyen
Edited by R. Mahadik
Asha Studios
Chandivali Studio
Filmistan Studio
R.K. Studios
Swati Studios
Distributed by Prakash Mehra Productions
Baba Digital Media
Digital Entertainment
Eros Entertainment
Release date
May 11, 1973
Running time
147 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi
Box office 17.46 crore ($22.33 million)

Zanjeer (English: Chains) is a 1973 Indian action film, directed and produced by Prakash Mehra, written by Salim-Javed, and starring Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Pran, Ajit and Bindu. The movie changed the trend from romantic films to action films and pioneered Amitabh's new image of a brooding but explosive person who fights back when cornered, he was now known as "The Angry Young Man." The film started a new wave in Hindi cinema. At a time, when India was suffering from corruption and low economic growth, and the common man was left with frustration and anger over the system, Hindi cinema turned violent and aggressive. Reflecting the anger of the masses, Amitabh Bachchan became the new hero, who had the courage to fight against the wrong and maintaining moral values at the same time, this film also ended the struggling period for Amitabh and turned him into a rising star. Zanjeer thus remains an important film in the history of Indian cinema and is regarded as a classic today.


The film opens on Diwali with the murder of young Vijay Khanna's parents, committed by a man of unknown identity with a white horse on his charm bracelet, "zanjeer", because of this traumatic event, Vijay has recurring nightmares of a white stallion. Even as a child Vijay stays socially awkward and stays away from the other kids, showing the audience that he believes himself to be alone. Fast forward 20 years, and Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) is now an inspector, an honest police officer in a town where few are just, he receives complaints about a local man, Sher Khan (Pathan) (Pran), who is running gambling dens. When he calls Khan in for questioning, Khan's superiority complex chafes against Khanna's police authority, as he scolds the officer, telling him he only orders him around due to the uniform he wears. Vijay takes him up on his challenge, and meets him in street clothes to fight him, at fight's end, Sher Khan not only closes his gambling dens, but has gained respect for Vijay. He becomes an auto mechanic, and reforms his ways.

Various dealings of the underworld continue unabated throughout the town, all tracing back to gang leader Teja (Ajit Khan). A mysterious caller continually phones Inspector Khanna to inform him exactly when a crime is about to take place, but hangs up before Khanna can extract any more information out of him. When a traffic accident perpetrated by gang members leaves several children dead, a witness, a street performer named Mala (Jaya Bhaduri), is bribed by Teja's men to keep quiet. When she is questioned by Vijay, he becomes enraged at her denying she knows anything, and, to sway her differently, takes her into the morgue to view the mangled bodies of the children, she has a change of heart, and comes clean, asking that the bribe be donated to an orphanage. She identifies the man behind the traffic accident.

Once it is known that Mala has broken her word, Teja's men come after her, she is chased through the night, narrowly escaping across the train tracks, and coming to Inspector Khanna's house, desperate for shelter. He lets her in, allows her to stay, and the two discover that they are both orphans, and discuss the fears associated with living alone. Khanna kindly takes her to his brother and sister-in-law, and, under the sister-in-law's tutelage, Mala begins to learn how to keep house, as well as English, and other refinements.

Eventually, Vijay is framed for bribery, stripped of his title and position as inspector, and jailed for 6 months on false charges, trapped by Teja. When he is released from jail, he plans to take revenge. Mala, by this time, has developed from a frightened stranger seeking his help to a romantic interest for him, she begs him, to seal their relationship, that he must stop being so vengeful. He agrees, but soon must come to terms with such a promise when he meets, in a Christian cemetery, the informant who had called him in the past when he was an inspector, the man, De Silva (Om Prakash), appears half-insane, holding onto an empty bottle. He says that on Christmas several years before, his three sons drank poisoned moonshine, and died from it, until the killer is found, he will continue to wander with the bottle. When local criminals mocked him and called him crazy, he vowed to get back at them as he could: by phoning the inspector when a crime was about to happen.

After hearing this news, Vijay becomes depressed, torn between his desire to help the grieving De Silva, and his need to keep his promise to Mala that he would not take any more revenge on the lowlifes of the town. Eventually, along with a concerted effort by Sher Khan to cheer up Vijay, Mala relents, vowing she will not try to control him, and says he must do what is right.

The trail of tainted moonshine leads back to Teja and his men. Upon finally cornering the crook on Diwali, fireworks bursting overhead, Vijay also finds out that the person who murdered his parents, 20 years before, on the same night, is Teja, recognisable by the zanjeer on his wrist. Sher Khan helps him to fight Teja and his men, and take justice into their own hands, until the police arrive. When the hapless police inspector is held at gunpoint by Teja, Vijay manages to drop to retrieve a pistol from the ground, and shoots him dead, his body falling into the swimming pool.


Actor/Actress Character/Role Notes
Amitabh Bachchan Insp. Vijay Khanna Protagonist
Jaya Bhaduri Mala
Pran Sher Khan (Pathan)
Om Prakash De Silva
Ajit Seth Dharam Dayal Teja Antagonist
Bindu Mona
Iftekhar Police Commissioner Singh as Iftikhar
Keshto Mukherjee Gangu as Kesto Mukherji
Randhir Lala Ashok Sherkhan's friend - Usurer
M. Rajan Ranjeet Vijay's father
Purnima Das Verma Sumitra Vijay's mother
Nandita Thakur Shanti Bhabhi
Satyendra Kapoor Police Inspector as Satyen Kappoor
Ashalata Wabgaonkar Police Inspector's wife Vijay's stepmother (as Asha Lata)
Yunus Parvez Constable
Ram Sethi Constable
Gulshan Bawra Street Singer Song Deewane Hain
Sanjana Street Dancer Song Deewane Hain
Amrit Pal Man offered 'Sher Khan'
money to kill
as Amrit Paul
Bhushan Tiwari Smuggler, Teja's man as Bhooshan Tiwari
Javed Khan Smuggler, Teja's man as Khan
Ranvir Raj Smuggler, Teja's man as Ranbir
Krishan Dhawan Smuggler, Teja's man as Dhawan
Mac Mohan Man caught in Teja's
liquor warehouse
as Mack Mohan
D. K. Sapru Patil as Sapru
Ram Mohan Kabir
Goga Kapoor Goga as Goga


The role of the lead was first offered to many leading men of the time, including Raaj Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra and Dev Anand, which all of them turned down. Eventually, it went to a newcomer Amitabh Bachchan and established his career.[1]



Song Title Singers Length( Minutes: Seconds)
Bana Ke Kyon Bigada Re Lata Mangeshkar 3:25
Chakku Chhuriyan Tej Kara Lo Asha Bhosle 3:45
Deewane Hai Deewanon Ko Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar 4:35
Dil Jalon Ka Dil Jala Ke Asha Bhosle 3:55
Yari Hai Imaan Mera Manna Dey 6:20

Box office[edit]

With a total domestic Indian gross revenue of 6 crore in 1973, including a nett collection of 3 crore, the film was declared a "Super Hit" according to Box Office India.[2] This was equivalent to a domestic gross of US$7.75 million in 1973,[n 1] or US$42 million (282 crore)[4] in 2016.

It was also an overseas blockbuster at the Soviet box office, where it drew an audience of 37.3 million viewers in 1980.[5] It overseas gross in the Soviet Union amounted to 9.325 million SUR (US$14.58 million, 11.46 crore), equivalent to US$42 million (282 crore) in 2016.[n 5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Sequels and remakes[edit]

Year Film Language Cast Director
1974 Nippulanti Manishi Telugu N. T. Rama Rao, Kaikala Satyanarayana, Latha S. D. Lal
1974 Sirithu Vazha Vendum Tamil M. G. Ramachandran, Latha S. S. Balan
1980 Naayattu Malayalam Jayan, Prem Nazir Sreekumaran Thampi
2013 Zanjeer Hindi Ram Charan, Priyanka Chopra Apoorva Lakhia
2013 Toofan Telugu

A remake, with the same name, released on 6 September 2013. Zanjeer featuring Ram Charan Teja as Vijay, Priyanka Chopra as Mala, Sanjay Dutt as Sher Khan, Prakash Raj as Teja, Mahi Gill as Mona, Ankur Bhatia as Bosco, and Atul Kulkarni. Priyanka Chopra contracted the film for 90 million indian rupee turning her the highest paid Indian actress.[10] The film is also simultaneously shot in Telugu titled Toofan, featuring the same cast except Srihari replaces Sanjay Dutt as Sher Khan, and Tanikella Bharani replaces Atul Kulkarni.


  1. ^ 7.7420 Indian rupees per US dollar in 1973[3]
  2. ^ 37.3 million tickets sold,[5] average ticket price of 25 kopecks[6]
  3. ^ 0.6395 Soviet rubles per US dollar in 1980[7]
  4. ^ 7.8629 Indian rupees per US dollar in 1980[3]
  5. ^ Zanjeer in Soviet Union: 9.325 million SUR[n 2] (US$14.58 million,[n 3] 11.46 crore)[n 4] in 1980[5] (US$42 million or 282 crore[4] in 2016)


External links[edit]