King Kong (1962 – Review)
Written by Vishwanath Panday, Pandit Mathur, Mastji, and Majrooh Sultanpuri (lyrics)
Directed by Babubhai Mistry
Not that King Kong, there are no giant apes in this movie, though there are guys who sort of look like giant apes when you squint, or at least fat blogs. Nope, this is 1962s Indian epic King Kong, starring the great Dara Singh in his first starring role. You remember Dara Singh from Samson right? The Infernal Brains Podcast about Dara Singh? Well, if not, you now have a bunch of extra listening and reading to do! For the rest of us, this is an entry in the MOSS (Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit) Conspiracy Big Muscle Tussle, featuring dudes and chicks with muscles doing muscular things in muscular ways. Said muscular ways usually means punching many things. Click on the MOSS Page to see many more entries, as long as your roid rage is low enough you won’t Hulk Smash all our webpages. As for King Kong, let’s just say that there is a giant monster in the beginning of the film, but it’s all downhill from there!
Dara Singh was born in 1928 in the Punjab village of Dharmuchak. He wrestled in local tournaments while growing up, but went to Singapore to seek employment as a laborer. He ended up learning East Asian wrestling techniques – in addition to the Indian (and surrounding regions) technique called Pehlwani – and returned to India. With his brother Randhawa, the two became professional wrestlers and soared through the ranks. By the 1970s, Dara and his brother were the highest paid wrestlers in India, earning 30-40 times the going rate for bouts. Dara was also the “world champion” in the local circuits.
Prior to his lead role here, Dara Singh had been relegated to stunt work in films like Sangdil (1952), Pehli Jhalak (First Sight) (1955), and Jagga Daku (1959). In King Kong and many of his later films, Dara helped do the fight choreography, as he thought the usual Indian choreography didn’t look real enough. As Dara Singh comes from a lower caste, there was often trouble finding leading women who would appear with him. Besides Kum Kum from this film, his usual partner was Mumtaz (seen here in Samson) Dara’s lower caste status helped instill him as a hero of the common man, though his films usually had him suddenly discover his noble roots (as this one does.) After his movie career slowed down, Dara Singh gained a new generation of fans when he appeared in the 1980s tv series Ramayana playing Hanuman.
The movie’s title King Kong is even taken from wrestling. Though a reference to the giant ape, King Kong became a wrestling title, one which Dara Singh soon claimed, winning it off of stocky Hungarian wrestler Emile Czaja – who often went billed as King Kong (including his appearance in this film!) Dara winning the King Kong title gave him enough fame that director Babubhai Mistri decided he would be bankable as a leading man. The added fact that it was cheaper for people to buy movie tickets than to pay for wrestling tickets was just gravy. Due to distribution politics/drama, low-budget stunt films like King Kong were usually exhibited in rural areas, often with the director or star in attendance presenting the film.
Director Babubhai Mistri did effects work at Wadia Movietone, and directed many mythologicals in the 1950s (mythologicals being a genre of Indian cinema that does stories from the religious texts.) by by the 60s was unable to direct big picture films, thus he turned to the B movie circuit and making Dara Singh a star.
Like most surviving Dara Singh films, King Kong is available on badly encoded unsubtitled vcd with the craptastic video quality you expect. And the vcd has commercials on it..in the middle of the film! Luckily, a few Dara films have started to migrate to DVD, so maybe, just maybe, we’ll get some of his awesome stunt films on DVD soon…
As this is the inaugural Dara Singh starring flick, they didn’t trust him to headline the picture by his lonesome, so they threw in another character, the handsome swashbuckler type Badal (played by Chandrashekhar) There is also a comic relief sidekick for Badal. Comic relief sidekicks were so in vogue at this time, the evil warrior character Evil Guy also has his own comic relief sidekick. As you have probably noticed by some of the names, I haven’t figured them all out yet.
Additional actors are Sheila Kashmiri as Princess Rajkumari’s other maid, Chhabili – the one that falls for Goofy Guy. Leela Mishra plays Jingu and Badal’s mom. I don’t know who plays Goofy Guy, the Evil Guy, or Evil Goofy Guy. King Kong is partially in color – the songs and the ending are shot in almost life-like color. Because that’s the A material. Oddly enough, the color film stock is tore up more than the black and white stock. There is also some cool Indian surf rock music! Not on the soundtrack I found, unfortunately.
A big ugly monster thing is about to eat this hot chick named Radhi who falls in a hole (why do they always fall in holes???) But Dara Singh as Jingu is like “Excuse me, I’m a well-oiled buff guy dressed as a caveman with a spear and I’m just wandering by, so it’s time to smoke your sorry butt!” The monster snorts smoke from its nose as an act of aggression. This attack via second-hand smoke causing increased lung cancer risk won’t pay off for decades, which is plenty of time for Jingu to jump inside the monster’s mouth and stab it dead!
Nooooooooo! What a loss to the world of biology!
Radhi pretends to be more fainted than she actually is so Jingu will carry her around. They will continue to have a dysfunctional relationship as the movie progresses.
King Hingoo and the current King Kong arrive to slay the monster – Better late than never. Except not. They demand to know who has slain the beast, and Jingu admits he did it. When asked who he is, he says he is King Kong, as that is him mom’s nickname for him. King Hingoo declares that only he can bestow the King Kong title, and he’ll do just that by having Jingu and King Kong wrestle. This is like the wrestling in Santo films where at the time it was giving the audience what they want, but nowadays we just watch it and see it as padding. And as the glorious wrestling scene closes in on minute four, it comes to an end with Jingu winning and being declared the new King Kong.
Jingu goes to report to mom, who cautions him to be careful when dealing with this evil king, and also always wear clean underwear. You know how moms are…
But don’t worry, we got other characters to follow – Badal and Goofy Guy. They first appear fighting a fake tiger and rescuing two girls from slavers. Those two girls happen to be Princess Rajkumari – the daughter of King Hingoo – and Chhabili – one of her faithful maids. They escort the women back to the palace as flirtations fly, but back home Badal runs into trouble in the form of Evil Guy. Evil Guy is one of King Hingoo’s chief goons, and he even has his own Evil Goofy Guy, who fights Goofy Guy while Evil Guy fights Badal. Luckily, Jingu stopped by the palace that day as well and beats everyone up.
Badal and Goofy Guy will now proceed with a bunch of schemes to sneak back into the castle to see their women, the most ridiculous one being when they dress up as Chinese magicians, complete with Fu Manchu mustaches. Holy yellowface, Batman! No one recognizes them until Badal takes off his disguise, despite this being the most obvious disguise in the history of disguises.
The King and Evil Guy eventually scheme and send goons after Jingu. Despite Jingu’s weakness to rocks being thrown on his head, he defeats all of them and only a bloodied bad dude manages to crawl back to the king. Jingu is mad and heads to the palace, beating up guards left and right and then he kills King Hingoo! Except he didn’t, he just killed a double of the evil king. The real king comes out from behind a wall and is like “FOOLED YOU!!” and arrests Jingu’s mom.
The Princess hangs with Jingu, who saves her from some pursuers and the most realistic rubber crocodile you ever did see! Radhi starts to get jealous that the Princess spent time with Jingu.
Radhi dresses as a man and sneaks into the dungeons to check on Jingu’s mom, but she’s caught. Evil Guy also captures the Princess, Badal, and Goofy Guy in spite of their efforts to escape while performing a song and dance number. Evil Guy then schemes to pretend he’s good and the lost brother of Jingu in an attempt to capture him, convincing Radhi and Jingu’s mom to bring him back home. Jingu is then drugged and even though there is a brawl in the castle as Jingu shrugs off the drugs, he surrenders when they threaten his mom. Now everyone is captured, with Jingu and Badal chained to pillars and forced to watch as Radhi performs for the evil King before their execution in glorious color.
As we’re heading into the final round, King Kong stays in color as Jingu breaks free once again and starts beating people up. He sets Badal loose and they reunited brothers work their way through swarms of goons. With Evil Guy running around kidnapping ladies as hostages, King Kong returning for a grudge match, and the evil King to deal with, these brothers will have the fight of their lives to reclaim their family’s throne.
Rated 6/10 (Smokey, mom, maid, color, Smokey, Smokey)
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