Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

Khai ke paan banaaraswaala

Posted on: April 29, 2012

This article is written by Santosh Ojha, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and an old contributor to this blog.

When Atul wrote to me in his usual polite way the other day that I must write a post on this song I was taken aback. I have been a (mostly silent) reader of his blog and I have even written a few pieces for it but none for a very long time. Perhaps he thought I might like to do this piece on Don’s “Khaike paan banaraswala” as most of my early pieces were on Amitabh Bachchan’s movies of that era as I am an unabashed AB fan. What he did not know when he wrote to me is that I had another “qualification” for doing this piece; I studied for five years in Banaras.

I love writing but somehow over the last few months I have not written anything even for my blog. I thank Atul for shaking me out of my slumber and getting me to write this introduction to the 5900th song on his fabulous blog. It is an honour for me.


If you are an Indian, and you have not been to Varanasi (or Banaras, or Kashi) you have not seen an important part of your heritage. If you are a foreigner interested in India and not been to Varanasi, you have not seen one of the key centers of the Indian essence. And if you have been to Varanasi, and not had a paan there, your visit to Varanasi was incomplete, please return to the city. I think I have gone off-track, this blog is about film songs. Sorry!

So let us begin from the very beginning.


Once upon a time, many, many years ago there was a super smuggler by the name Don. He was handsome, powerful, rich, and had many henchmen (in fact a whole “galaxy” of them: Kamal Kapoor, Mac Mohan, Zubisco, Shetty etc etc. He had utter disdain for human life. He could shoot someone whose shoes he did not like (“paon dekho iske, mujhey iskey jootey achhey nahin lagey”). (it is another matter that his third eye could see through the right heel of the killed man’s shoe. The deceased had tucked into it some major incriminating details about Don and his gang.) And after the kill Don nonchalantly requests his moll to get him a drink!

This, in turn, causes two pretty women to itch for his death. The first one, Helen, the fiance of the deceased, does remarkably well and ingratiates herself to Don in a matter of a few hours and enters his bedroom. Of course she wants to get the police to sweep in as she is seducing him with a great cabaret number (“yeh mera dil pyaar ka diwaana”). Unfortunately she becomes Don’s human shield in the police raid and loses her life. The other woman, the luscious Zeenat Aman, the deceased’s sister gets trained in martial arts and stage-manages her way into Don’s gang.

Don had one big enemy. The incorruptible, efficient, diligent police boss, Iftekhaar. (I would love to know the per cent of movies where this gentleman has not played a police officer). And surprise, surprise, the upright cop wins, pretty much in the initial part of the movie when Don gets killed after a gory shoot-out. The catch is that only the dear cop knows Don is dead, no one else does. And that is great as the top cop wants to reach the rest of the gang. He spreads the news that the Don escaped from the police and is at large.

Lo and behold, he remembers meeting Vijay, who looks identical to Don. Who else can be Vijay in a Salim Javed movie but the great Amitabh Bachchan! The look-alike is traced out and the cop boss strikes a deal with him to act as Don in return for something dear to him (the look-alike). The return gift is that while Vijay is in Don’s den working like the Don and getting the gang exposed, the cop would take care of his two “adopted” kids (the adoption is another story, but very intrinsic to the plot of the movie).

Vijay is a rustic (presumably from a village near Varanasi, or maybe Varanasi City itself, it does not matter!) who earns a living in Bambai (Bombay or Mumbai) by dancing and singing on the streets (“Ee hai bambai nagariya, tu dekh babua”). One of his big loves is paan, he chews it almost constantly. Spitting the paan juice to his side, wiping his lips with his fingers and which in turn are wiped on his kurta. His concerns in life are very simple. Like fretting about his accompanying percussionist Shambhu who plays a beat not to Vijay’s liking. (“Ee Sambhu dholakia bada paaji hai, kaharwa chhod kuchh bajata hi nahin”, while Vijay’s request is to get into the teen-taal beat). On his meager earnings for the day he laments that it is low and would have difficulty making the two ends meet (“Ismey koi kya nahaaye, kya nichodey”). Another small regret he has is that during the training to be Don he is advised to refrain from chewing paan as Don never partook of this essential.

Anyway, Vijay is trained adequately and he reaches the Don’s den posing as an amnesiac. Amnesia to cover for his lack of knowledge about his gang members and his exploits and his habits. Very convenient, no?

Back to Varanasi and its paan. Yours truly was funded by his parents to live in Varanasi for five years academic pursuits. (this incidentally was just a couple of years after Don was released in 1978). I enjoyed my pursuits, which much to the chagrin of my parents, were nearly all non-academic. I hugely enjoyed my stay in the famed city. I would not go into the details of that but just one confession. I was hardly a paan aficionado, but I took to it in Varanasi with gusto. The market place just outside the campus had two famed paan shops. They were known by the paanwallah‘s names. Keshav and Mahender. Their’s was a non-fussy paan. No fancy spices or sweetening agents like gulkand. Just some kattha, choona, supaari (geeli or saadi) and a laung if you wanted one). The magic lay in the precise formulation of the kattha and the choona. The quality of supaari and paan leaf being used. This was lovingly rolled into a triangle and passed on to you. With some extra kattha/choona/supaari if you requested. A paan was not just a delight to the sensory buds, but merely being in the immediate vicinity of a paan shop was an experience by itself.

To start with you could catch up on the local politics.

“Ee Bechu ke chunav mein iss saal inka saara panelwa haar jayega”. “Bechu” being the local speak for the university I was studying in, BHU aka Banaras Hindu University. Panelwa= Panel. Student politics was a hot item in the campus (and outside it) when I was studying there.

The other person would react: “Arey aap janbey nahin kartey, oo panelwa ko poora bhot mil raha hai Brahman chhatron ka aur poori IT ka”. My partial translation: Bhot= VOTE, IT is the abbreviated form of Institute of Technology of the BHU.

This exchange would continue while Keshav ji would keep preparing dozens and dozens of paan servings, all the while shaking his head and his body seated on his perch in the tiny paan shop.

Not that only BHU politics was discussed, even the city, national and international topics were brought into focus. But that is a long story, a subject matter of another post.

Such was the passion a paan induced. One last thing about the BHU paan. The paanwallah next to our hostel used to offer a “palang-tod paan” if he got the right price. I wonder now as to what a male-only hostel inmate would do after consuming the said offering. Palang= Bed or cot and Tod= break. So this palang-tod paan induces bed-breaking energy in the consumer! I leave it to you to guess what this could mean!


I digressed again. So back to the story. I will keep it simple and short. Vijay, posing as Don, “learns” all he needs to “get out of amnesia”. “Mujhey sab kuchh yaad aa gaya hai”. He resumes life the way the real Don would have. His henchmen are impressed.

Just one catch, the whole world thinks of him as Don, only the good cop knows he is not Don. This one is a no-brainer to predict, the good cop dies and we have the whole world baying for Vijay’s blood. The (remaining) cops, the bad guys etc etc. But for Zeenie baby. She has been taken into confidence by the good cop before his death.

This post is not meant to be a narration of the story of Don. Suffice it to say that Don and Zeenie are running away late one evening from both the cops and the baddies and they find refuge in a dhobi ghat which is populated by Vijay’s ilk, men from Varanasi. They are preparing for an evening session of bhang when they are stumped by the appearance of a western outfit clad Don (=Vijay) and the lissome white-skirted lady (Zeenie).

As you can guess, Vijay is offered glassfuls (and then lotafuls) of bhang which he consumes much to his girlfriend’s consternation. She beseeches him to leave, which he does as she tugs him off till the local paan wallah offers him a Banarsi paan. That does something to Vijay. He has not had a paan for ages and he must have one. Now. And one more. And then some more. GF gives up when Vijay exclaims: “pehle paan phir gaan”.

And that is when he breaks out into that all-time hit song which you must see right now in this wonderful blog of Atul’s…….


PS: That paan shop sequence also has a poster of Rajesh Khanna’s hit film Dushmun (released 1971 but then spelt as Dushman- I know as I have seen the movie). Was that the time when Don was active?



Song-Khaike paan Banaraswaala (Don)(1978) Singer-Kishore Kumar, Lyrics-Anjaan, MD-Kalyanji Anandji

brhh brhh
arre bhang kaa rang jamaa ho chakaachak
phir lo paan chabaay
umm umm umm
arre aisaa jhatkaa
lage jiyaa pe
punar janam hoi jaay

o khaike paan Banaaras waalaa
o khaike paan Banaaras waalaa
khuli jaaye band akal kaa taalaa
o khaike paan Banaaras waalaa
khuli jaaye band akal kaa taalaa
phir to aisaa kare dhamaal
seedhi kar de sab ki chaal
o chhoraa Gangaa kinaare waalaa
o chhoraa Gangaa kinaare waalaa
o khaaike paan Banaaras waalaa
khuli jaaye band akal kaa taalaa

arre raam duhaai
ee ee
kaise chakkar mein pad gayaa
kahaan jaan fansaayi
ee ee
main to sooli pe chadh gayaa
kaisaa seedhaa saadaa
main kaisaa bholaa bhaalaa,
haan haan
arre kaisaa seedhaa saadaa
main kaisaa bholaa bhaalaa
jaane kaun ghadi mein pad gayaa
padhe-likhon se paalaa
meethi chhuri se,
meethi chhuri se huaa halaal
chhoraa Gangaa kinaare waalaa
ho chhoraa Gangaa kinaare waalaa
o khaike paan Banaaras waalaa
khuli jaaye band akal kaa taalaa

o memsaab
hamra sang naacha ho naacha

ek kanyaa kunwaari
ee ee
hamri soorat pe mar gayi
ek meethi kataari,
ee ee
hamre dil mein utar gayi
kaisi gori gori
o teekhi teekhi chhori,
waah waah
arre kaisi gori gori
o teekhi teekhi chhori
karke joraa-jori,
kar gayi hamre dil ki chori
mili chhori to,
mili chhori to huaa nihaal
chhoraa Gangaa kinaare waalaa
ho chhoraa Gangaa kinaare waalaa
o khaike paan Banaaras waalaa
khuli jaaye band akal kaa taalaa
o khaike paan banaaras waalaa
khuli jaaye band akal kaa taalaa
phir to aisaa kare dhamaal
seedhi kar de sabki chaal
o chhoraa Gangaa kinaare waalaa
o chhoraa Gangaa kinaare waalaa
o chhoraa Gangaa kinaare waalaa

16 Responses to "Khai ke paan banaaraswaala"

What a fantastic write-up, Santosh!!! You just disappeared – bahut na-insaafi hai. 🙂 I’ve always enjoyed reading your write-ups here and your blog.

It feels like Don is playing out in front of my eyes as you describe it here, so vividly and visually.

And not just Don, but also the conversation at Keshavji paan ki dukaan. 🙂 Very beautifully described here. You should be a script writer. 🙂

Thanks for a wonderful start to the morning. Well, it’s not that early here but it’s Sunday, so I’ll use a little bit of weekend license here. 😉


Thanks Raja. I moved out of India and perhaps I left my muse behind! It was Atul’s gentle persuasion which made me write this one.



Congratulations on another century.

Santhosh Ojha ji
Thanks for the lyrics and nice post.
regards and lot`s of love


Thanks Prakshji.


What a beautiful write up. Lagta hai ki ab jab bhi Bharat aana hoga, tab Banaras (Varanasi) jana hoga. Thanks Santoshji.
Congratulations to Atulji on another milestone.


Thanks Khyatiji. As regards Kashi Yatra, you will love the place!


Congrats. Now Juggernaut to 6000 milestone.
After reading the post I feel like imbibing some bhang.
Caution to the first timers: a) Try it when at home b) Never take it in the community gathering as you are not aware of the potency(it varies from person to person unlike our standard ‘drinks’) c) First try with the minimum quantity and adjust next time(day) d) As the effect starts after 45 minutes do not think it to be ineffective and make the mistake of downing another glass. The whole cycle may be of few hours duration. e) If you feel uncomfortable chew/suck freshly cut lime or anything pungent
People make mistakes(by not following the above rules) aur bhang yuhi badnaam hoti hain. Taken in small doses it is therapeutic, sleep inducing, for concentration, viryavardhak, increases intake of food, etc.


BHU is the only educational institution I know of where bhang was served in the hostel messes (they were all privately run) on holi and Mahashivratri. All in the open, nothing clandestine about it. I have some bhang stories of my own. 🙂


Santosh ji

Remarkable narrations, just love your descriptions about the paan and the bhaang in Benaras. The Benaras trade mark is very famous, especially north India.

My first intro to this trade mark was a chapter in my Hindi text book, way back in my seventh or eighth class. The author of the chapter is Bedhab Banarasi (real name KDP Gaur). A resident of Benraras, this article dealt with everything Banarasi, from Banarasi ekka (type of tonga, horse drawn carriage), Banarasi landga (the special variety of mango), Banarasi paan, Banarasi panda (priest), Banarasi hajjaam (barber) etc. It is a hilarious compsition, and it stuck in my memory forever. Your descriptions of “bechu” and the bhaang sessions curried up the memories of that article that I studied ages ago.

More recent interactions about Benaras is through another gentleman with whom I became friends as we worked for the same company. We no longer work together, but still keep in touch. Once he described to me a very special variety of paan that is available only in Benaras. That is called the ‘maghai paan’. The manner in which the paan leaf is prepared is really amazing and very interesting. As my friend explained, in the month of Magh (Jan-Feb), there is a fresh crop of paan leaves. The farmers or traders will do the following process precisely. They will take one thousand leaves of paan and store them carefully in a straw basket, and cover it with a moist cloth. Every morning, it is the duty of one person to do the following – uncover the basket, take out the paan leaves one by one, wipe each one dry with a clean soft cloth, discard the leaves that are starting to decay. Once the entire set of leaves in the basket has been so treated, all the remaining fresh leaves are put back in the basket, and covered again with a moist cloth. Next day the process is repeated.

I was amazed to hear the duration for which this one basket is subjected to such treatment. One such basket is processed for one full year, 365 days. At the end of the year, it is surprising, but from the original lot of thousand, there still remain at least 10 to 15 leaves that are un-decayed and fresh. Something to do with natural process of selection in a large population. These surviving leaves are then very carefully taken out and very carefully transported to the paan shops for selling as paan. The speciality of this paan is that as soon as you place it in your mouth, it will melt like butter, and it is supposed to be exquisitely tasty. And back when this was narrated to me maybe a decade or so ago, the price of such a paan in Benaras was stated to be two or three hundred rupees. I have never been to Benaras, and have never been able to verify this anecdotal information. Maybe you can help.

But more than that, the request is for you to write more often – this is a very interesting and a very readable write up. Kudos to you.

Cheers and regards


Sudhir ji,
‘MAGHAI PAAN’ is available in almost all states of India,where Paan Eating is prevalent.Especially,all over UP,Bihar and the Eastern states,Hyderabad entire Gujarat,many parts of Rajasthan,MP,Mumbai and many many more places.When I was in service,as a Marketing
Head,I used to travel all over India and being a devotee of Paan,I used to eat Maghai Paan with relish also,though my preference was for Banarasi Paan,because Maghai Paans are very small and one has to eat atlest 2 or more at a time.
One of my cousins had grown the vines of Maghai Paan in his courtyard in Hyderabad.I have left eating Paan since about 15 years now but when I read write up of Santosh ji and you,the memories came back pat.
Santosh ji,
We request you to write here more often so that we enjoy your captivating articles.


Thank you Arunji for your encouraging words. Among all the erudite discussions on the nuances of film songs on this blog by very informed people such as yourself I feel like a mere wordsmith with my articles!


Thank you Sudhir ji for that detailed information about Maghai pagan. You know so much more about paan! Will try and write more here. Thanks for your kind words.


Wonderful! Now I want to see Don again, immediately. And visit Varanasi, although I don’t know about the paan 😀


I felt the same way as you. And paan indeed plays an important role in ‘Don’. 🙂


With all the lovely comments above on the Banarsi paan, how can you not have a paan or two while at Varanasi!


Santosh ji, This article (like your other articles) was a very “jiwant vivawaran” of life in BHU and an even more classic review of Don (or “DAAN” As Vijay would pronouce)… The piece on the BHU politics discussion brought me back to our ITBHU days. You have a unique style and I am going to tell you what I have been telling you for the last couple of years… You should get some inspiration from Chetan Bhagat and you should write a novel. You have a unique writing style and I am sure everyone will appreciate it.


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This blog discusses Bollywood songs of yesteryears. Every song has a brief description, followed by a video link, and complete lyrics of the song.

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