Posts tagged "Dara Singh"

Trip To Moon (Review)

Trip to Moon

aka Chand Par Chadayee

1967
Written by Dr. P. Balakrishnan and T.R. Sundaram
Directed by T.P. Sundaram

Trip to Moon
How you boys like my new goldfish bowl?

Trip to Moon is another Dara Singh adventure, as the famous wrestler has become far too manly and powerful to be confined to foes just upon Earth, he has to search the stars for new enemies. Luckily the Moon and Mars both contain a sizeable amount of wrestlers and monsters for him to battle with, and then there is the little matter of the love of a Princess and adverting war between the Moon and Mars. As we get an experience that’s obviously heavily influenced by serials like Flash Gordon, the audience comes along for the ride in one of the few instances of Indian science fiction film. It’s also a bonus entry into the MOSS (Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit) Conspiracy Big Muscle Tussle, because I am awesome like that.

Trip to Moon
Rise of the Moon of the Apes!

Trip to Moon has several mysteries surrounding it. Though it was released in 1967, one of the actors – S. Nazir who plays a kidnapped scientist in the beginning – died earlier. He’s even listed as deceased in the credits. Theories abound as to when Trip to Moon was actually filmed, with guesses ranging from 1963-1967 – though it is possible additional scenes were added later. So why did it take so long for Trip to Moon to hit Indian theaters, if that was the case? Was it more distribution problems similar to what drove producers to start making stunt films in the first place, or was there something else going on? Or are these rumors all untrue and just made up by people with websites? Perhaps if you know Dara Singh, you can ask him. Tell him TarsTarkas.NET sent you! Then he won’t punch you as hard for bothering him.

Trip to Moon
Only in India do you get crowd scenes with Devo and a herd of Phantoms from Krankor…

Much like his other films King Kong and Samson, although he’s given a character and backstory, Dara Singh is just Dara Singh. Much like how Arnold Schwarzenegger is Arnold in every movie, even if he is a robot or a believer in Free Mars. By now Dara is headlining films himself, no need for pretty boys to share the spotlight. He still has a comic relief guy, because you can’t escape their goofy grasps. Dara’s wrestling opponents are less billed than before, and though some make appearances, many are under layers of makeup or costumes playing various space monsters. There is a feeling in the air that Trip to Moon is using whatever costumes the studio had lying around for use, along with possibly monster costumes.

Trip to Moon
It’s lonely out in space on such a timeless flight

The opening credits are filled with what look like stock scifi paintings as the credits role. Despite the trappings, there are relatively few Indian science fiction films. Others known or suspected to be (besides mythologicals or super hero films) include Dara Singh’s other film Rocket Tarzan (1963), Wahan Ke Log (1967), Rocket Girl (1962), Flying Circus (1965 – though that just has a robot), Flying Man (1965), Miss Chaalbaaz (1961), Atom Bomb (1949, dir. Homi Wadia), Kalai Arasi (1963), and Aditya 369 (1991). Thank MBarnum of Pedro the Ape Bomb for some of these titles. The either missing of unavailable status of many of those films prevents a good overview of older Indian science fiction. The more modern films are better known – Koi Mil Gaya, Krrish, Love Story 2050, Da.One, Aa Dekhen Zara, Endhiran (a Kollywood joint) and Krrish 2. But those are entries for new dawns and new days.

Trip to Moon
I’ll be He-Man, and you’ll be Bee-rah, Princess of Honeypots!

Yes, this unsubtitled, badly encoded vcd just doesn’t want us to know what is going on. But here at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!

Captain Anand (Dara Singh) – Space Captain Anand is the greatest fighter on three worlds, what with his kicking butts on Earth, the Moon, and Mars. John Carter needs to watch out! I thought from the context that Anand’s father was among the scientists kidnapped by the Moon, but he never shows up so who knows. For more Dara Singh, don’t forget to check out King Kong, Samson, and the Dara Singh Infernal Brains podcast
Princess Shimoga (C. Ratna) – The stunning Princess of the Moon, who quickly takes a shine to Captain Anand and his seriousness. Her costume looks like a flight attendant’s costume, which is sort of weird in itself. I could find no information about actress Ratna aka C. Ratna.
Bhagu (Master Bhagwan) – Comic relief buddy of Dara Singh, who is like Wayne Knight meets Abbott and Costello. is Anand’s paternal cousin. I originally guessed his name was Foruk, and kind of wish it still was. Bhagu has a double who is the assistant of the King of Mars, Isabel
Balti (Rajrani) – The kidnapping Moon girl that takes a shine to Bhagu, because annoying dumpy guys are irresistible to fabulous moon babes. It’s a fact, Jack! Her name as Balti is a guess (a bad one), and the actress being Rajrani is also a guess (though more of process of elimination.)
Simi (Padma Khanna) – The other space girl who accompanies Balti on her trips to kidnap people and other tasks. She doesn’t get to marry on of the two main castmembers, for reasons that will become apparent as you watch. Padma Khanna (here billed simply as Padma) is a Hindi and Bhojpuri actress who was mostly active in the 60s-80s. She has recently directed her own Bhojpuri film and runs a dance studio and produces stage shows in New York/New Jersey.
Barahatu the King of Mars (Anwar Hussain) – The evil King of Mars Barahatu totally wants to marry the Princess of the Moon Shimoga, but he’s old and gross and evil, so she snubs him. So he just kidnaps her, risking a war to try to make her marry him. That just annoys her even more.
Robot (man in suit) – This robot shows up suddenly and starts fighting captain Anand, until another robot randomly walks in and then the robots fight.
Space Rhinoceros (men in suit) – Mars also features dangerous Space Rhinoceroses that will totally attack innocent wrestlers who are chasing after kidnapped princesses nearby.
Trip to Moon
Things went ugly quickly when a robot played 7 aces during Fizzbin

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 26, 2012 at 11:43 pm

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King Kong (1962 – Review)

King Kong


1962
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.
King Kong 1962
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.

Jingu (Dara Singh) – A local warrior who lives with his mom, who has nicknamed him King Kong. His father is the disposed king, and he has a missing brother.
Radhi (Kum Kum) – The Princess’s maid and Jengu’s love interest. She does almost all the singing. This is Kum Kum’s lone Dara Singh co-starrer that I know about, she starred in B films and used that to get starring roles in big budget pictures.
Badal (Chandrashekhar as Chandra Shekhar) – Badal is the local handsome guy who hangs out with a Goofy Guy and crushes on the princess. He’s also the secret lost brother of Jingu.
Princess Rajkumari (Parveen Choudhary) – The Princess who falls for Badal when he saves her from slavers.
King Kong (Emile Czaja as King Kong) – The prior King Kong who is tossed out of the roll when Jingu proves himself the better man. Seeks revenge for his failure.
King Hingoo (Uma Dutt) – The evil king who disposed the prior king and now does evil stuff which is totally evil. Of course, we don’t actually see him doing much evil stuff, he just has some jerks working for him. But the dialogue probably mentions evil things that we don’t see…
Smoke Monster (Men in suit!) – YES!! The Smoke Monster is awesome, we demand more Smoke Monster! Too bad he dies five minutes into the film and the rest is people running around not fighting monsters. BOOOO!!


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm

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Infernal Brains Podcast – Episode 06 – Dara Singh

In this episode, Tars and Todd sing the praises of Singh, Dara Sing, the manliest man of them all. Be a man and find all about how Dara Singh fights King Kong, cow dinosaurs, lizard puppets, 50 men at once, cyclops, Medusas, magic dwarfs, Moon men, Martians, space rhinos, stalker girlfriends, cardboard robots, and evil comic relief sidekicks.

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Movies discussed include:
King Kong (1962)
Samson
Hercules
Trip to Moon
Thief of Baghdad

Prior Infernal Brains:
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 1
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 2
Polly Shang Kuan
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 1
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 2

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 31, 2011 at 1:25 pm

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Samson (Review)

Samson


1964
Directed by Nanabhai Bhatt

It’s time for some Bollywood Peplum with Dara Singh! Wait, you ask, Bollywood made Peplum and who is Dara Singh? Where the crap have you been, reader? Bollywood pumped out a few Peplum films because Bollywood does that stuff. And Dara Singh is only the greatest Indian wrestler who ever lived. He did tons of awesome films where he wrestles dudes. And he fights dinosaurs! What more do you want?

So Samson is a Bollywood feature disguised to look very much the part of a 1960s Italian Peplum movie. If they didn’t break into song every twenty minutes or so you might be fooled into thinking this was just another crazy Peplum film. It has all the same tropes as the genre it is copying, including funky awesome costumes, giant army battles, evil kings, genies, magic midgets, and fake-looking monsters. It’s available on unsubtitled vcd, but at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinkin’ subtitles! What we also don’t need are stupid watermarks on the vcd, but practically every Indian vcd has them (and also Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Pakistani, and several other countries vcds as well.)

Samson (Dara Singh) – Samson is the local strong guy who just hangs around and chills with elephants. This annoys the king, because the king is all about anti-elephant propaganda or something. So Samson eventually starts a revolution getting the kill killed dead, then marries his daughter who seems cool with Samson getting her dad killed. Dara Singh was a professional wrestler during the 40s and 50s who moved on to making a string of B movies during the 1960s in India in seemingly every cult genre imaginable. Spaceships, gladiator, dinosaur fighting, secret agent, masked hero, he did it all. Todd at Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill! compares him to El Santo. He later was in the widely viewed TV program Ramayan, was nominated to Rajya Sabha, and is the benchmark of manliness in Hindi pop culture.
Princess Shera (Mumtaz Banoo) – Princess Shera is the typical spoiled princess who cannot believe that insolent Samson and his not doing whatever she wants, and also saving her. Eventually she falls in love with him, because that’s how it happens in these Bollywood flicks. Here name is very close to She-ra, which is awesome. Mumtaz Banoo is better known as Mumtaz. Mumtaz married millionaire Mayur Madhvani and had two daughters. Elder daughter Natasha married actor Fardeen Khan, son of Feroz Khan, who played Salook in this film. Younger daughter Mallika married to Randhawa the younger brother of famous wrestler Dara Singh. If you think about it, that is kind of weird. Mumtaz is considered one of the most beautiful actresses in Indian cinema of all time.
Laila (Ameeta) – The chief maiden of Princess Shera and lover of Salook. She’s got me on my knees, I’m beggin’ darling please. Ameeta was an actress of the 50s and 60s who never quite made it into a successful leading actress career, partly due to bad career choices and partly due to being trapped in B-grade fair like this very film. Her daughter Sabeeha also tried a movie career, but her path was even shorter and more disappointing than her mother’s.
Salook (Feroz Khan) – Salook is the hero-type who has no real personality besides being a good guy who isn’t a giant superman and thus doesn’t have the film named after him. But he gets a girl, too, so everyone wins! Feroz Khan is a legend in the Bollywood industry as an actor, director, and producer. Fellow actor Sanjay Khan was his brother and sometimes co-star, and Khan’s son Fardeen Khan also entered the entertainment business. Feroz Khan managed to get blacklisted in Pakistan, because cool people get banned from entire countries. Feroz Khan died in 2009.
King Rashid (B.M. Vyas) – The evil king who is evil because the script needed an evil dude. B.M. Vyas doesn’t rate a Wikipedia page, so I had to do actual research, which was complicated by some guy in the milk industry also named B.M. Vyas. Who knew the milk industry was so wide-reaching on the internet? I couldn’t really find anything non-milk except photos and clips, so B.M.Vyas had a long long career in Indian cinema starting in the 1940s. It looks like he won a lot of awards later in life but a Google trail of broken links and terribly designed websites leave few clues.
Dinosaur (An Unnamed Puppeteer) – Fred put Dino out one day and he got dino-knapped and woke up in ancient India where he is forced to eat prisoners for food. Poor Dino. But now that sabre-toothed tiger has the run of the Flintstone’s house!


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 11, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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