War (Review)


Story by Siddharth Anand and Aditya Chopra
Screenplay by Shridhar Raghavan
Additional Dialogue by Abbas Tyrewala
Directed by Siddharth Anand

Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff team up on the big screen for the first time to both fight alongside and against each other in War! What we get is a Mission: Impossible style masala flick that entertains with plenty of action with a ridiculous story stringing it all together. But the story is secondary, the spectacle and attraction is seeing your heroes Hrithik and Tiger run around together and causing trouble, both against villains and against each other. There is plenty of trouble, plenty of trials, and plenty of heart-pounding fighting as the two leads face off in an action movie storm.

It opens with Kabir (Hrithik Roshan) going rogue and killing his contact, so the hammer of the Indian intelligence services are brought in to smash him down. His former mentee Khalid (Tiger Shroff) is not tasked with bringing him down at first (they feel he’s too close) but at Kabir sets his sights on more high-profile targets, it soon becomes apparent that Khalid is the only hope they got.
Interspersed with this are several flashback stories where we learn that Khalid’s father was a traitor, that his own family turned him in, and that Kabir was the man who put (several!) bullets in his head. That’s why Kabir doesn’t trust Khalid to be part of his super special forces team at first. Khalid has been spending his whole career trying to escape the shadow of his father, and also spends long minutes gazing longingly at Kabir when he’s doing his cool main character struts that are fairly common in high-profile action films. At this point men fighting as brothers and homoeroticism has smeared together to the point where you’re free to pick your own interpretations. Khalid proves his worth by killing a bunch of ISIS goons and soon Khalid and Kabir are dancing it up in celebration. At least we’ve found one thing war is good for, dance parties!
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Sinbad Alibaba and Aladdin (Review)

Sinbad Alibaba and Aladdin

aka Sinbad Alibaba Aur Aladin
Sindbad Ali Baba Aladdin movie
Scenario and dialogue by Tabish Sultanpuri
Directed by Prem Narayan Arora (as P. N. Arora)

All India Pictures brings us Sindbad Alibaba and Aladdin! It’s got big stars, it has big effects, it has big costumes, it has big musical numbers, and it has a big not-Godzilla! Okay, maybe a few of the stars were past their prime and the Bootleg Godzilla looks goofy and isn’t in the film nearly as much as it should be, but still, there is a lot to love.

(I’m going to spell “Sinbad” both ways in this article, so deal with it!)
Sindbad Ali Baba Aladdin movie
Give whoever was in charge of the special effects a raise as they went right to the source, enlisting Keiji Kawakami and Seishiro Ishi from Tsuburaya special effects. That might be about as close as we’ll get to an actual Indian Godzilla film unless the long-lost Gogola is uncovered somewhere!

Sindbad Alibaba and Aladdin only seems available in unsubtitled vcds of what look like VHS rips with gigantic video company logos. Meemsab had Ultra Video Company, while my copy has Kamal Video plastered on the top left. Kamal Video also had a brief musical logo in the beginning featuring some soft jazz saxophone that would be at home in an early 90s softcore sex scene. They even forgot to cut out the logo of the VHS company that they got the VHS tapes they used to make this vcd from near the end of the film. Oops! Now we know why the watermarks keep getting bigger, they are covering other watermarks!
Sindbad Ali Baba Aladdin movie

Sinbad (Pradeep Kumar) – Sinbad is the heroic type in this film, while Aladdin and Alibaba both play the goofy sidekicks who are actually co-leads. Pradeep Kumar started acting in Bengali films and had moved to Hindu films by the 1950s, where he found success as a lead for a few years. By the 60s his star had begun to fade and he was doing more B-level movies like this one. By the late 60s he had turned to character acting and some good roles through the 80s. He died in 2001.
Alibaba (Master Baghwan) – One of the two comedic members of the trio, Alibaba is sort of in between the heroic role and the comedic role. He sort of gets a girl with the mysterious Jungle Girl, but she’s barely in the film. Bhagwan Dada was a working class son who dreamed of movies, eventually making his own low budget stunt films during the silent era of the 1930s. He moved on from that to starring in pictures in the 40s, by the 50s he was producing mainstream pictures and had early success (and spent his money accordingly), but eventually a string of failures caused him to have to sell his enormous mansion and seven cars (one for each day of the week), and by the 1960s he was doing B-level pictures like this one. He died in 2002.
Aladdin (Agha) – Aladdin is the other comedic member of the trio, but he’s the one who both Sinbad and Alibaba consider to be their comedic sidekick, hence him getting abandoned while drunk and sold into slavery. Whoops! But at least he does find a genie to love and save the day. Agha was a comedic actor who styled himself after Bob Hope’s comedy (very evident here!) He first got roles in the 30s and was very active from the 30s to the 50s. By the 60s he had started to slow down a bit, though he still had time to do some B-level movies like this one. He died in 1992.
Princess Jameela (Sayeeda Khan) – Sinbad’s love and the daughter of the Sultan, problem is everyone wants the princess either as a marriage partner for power or for lust reasons, so she’s constantly getting saved by Sinbad. Sayeeda Khan lived a tragic life, she got her career doing lower grade movies usually in supporting roles with occasional larger ones like this, but never broke into the big time. In 1990 her and her daughter Namrata were murdered (and her 20 year old son, actor Kamal Sadanah, wounded) by her filmmaker husband, Brij Sadanah, before he killed himself.
Genie (Helen) – Aladdin falls in love with the lovely lady of the lamp, Genie, who grants wishes to whoever controls the lamp. She also has a sense of humor, putting people in goofy situations. A great help to the heroes. Helen also pops up in Trip To Moon and Return of Mr. Superman
Bootleg Godzilla (Himself) – Totally not Godzilla shows up to shoot flames and try to make friends only to get stabbed in the eye because people sometimes just aren’t worth the effort. But let’s not blame poor Bootleg Godzilla, it isn’t his fault mankind has issues…

Sindbad Ali Baba Aladdin movie
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I (Review)


I Shankar Tamil
Written by Shankar and Subha
Directed by Shankar

I Shankar Tamil

Bring it on, Gaston!

After the trailer for Shankar’s I burst on the scene, it became a must-see event. Because the trailer was bonkers! I has hit theaters (including a nice limited release in the US, thus allowing me to go see it on the big screen!), and it delivers with lots of insane story, amazing visuals, rocking songs, and a sense of excitement for what it is. I packs in everything it can, trying to deliver entertainment on all levels to a maximum amount of audience.

I is a revenge movie, that differs than the usual revenge feature in that Lingesan isn’t killing those that wronged him, his hideously deforming them as revenge for hideously deforming him. As repeatedly pointed out in the film, this is a fate that’s considered more worse than death. And some of the things that happen to the villains are awful, but they do awful things to Lingesan first.

I Shankar Tamil

Laws of physics can suck it!

The tale is told in a mixed format, opening with the hunchback and mutated faced Lingesan kidnapping Diya away from her wedding and chaining her up. She screams demanding to know who he is, and we jump to the long flashbacks of the young and buff Lingesan and his story of how he made enemies because they were mad at how awesome he was. As the stories converse, we see Lingesan take revenge one by one on the various villains who destroyed his life.

Lingesan (Vikram) is a bodybuilder training hard to compete in the upcoming Mr. India regional event. He’s also obsessed with a commercial model named Diya (Amy Jackson), collecting her advertising images and buying products she endorses, even things like feminine hygiene products. Lingesan is well liked and appears to be a shoo-in to win, which angers fellow contestant Ravi (M. Kamaraj). This is Ravi’s last year he can enter, and he wants to win so he can qualify for a high-ranking job. His threats to Lingesan are ignored, resulting in a huge sprawling brawl that happens between rounds of the competition.

I Shankar Tamil

What do you mean you didn’t go see this when you had a chance???

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PK (Review)


Written by Abhijat Joshi and Rajkumar Hirani
Directed by Rajkumar Hirani

PK is an interesting film that deals with faith across religions in a country with more major religions than the US. It steps close to becoming a great film, but holds itself just enough back that you’ll leave wishing PK pushed just a bit more.

Aamir Khan (Dhoom: 3) plays PK, who is a visitor from another planet that arrives on Earth, nude except for a glowing amulet around his neck, which is the recall device for his ship. The first person he sees snatches the amulet and escapes, stranding PK on Earth with no way to contact home.
Jaggu (Anushka Sharma) starts as a student in Europe, who bumps into a fellow student from her region named Sarfaraz (Sushant Singh Rajput). At first she’s disappointed to learn he’s Muslim and from Pakistan, but soon puts that aside and the two fall in love, over the objections of her parents. To prove them wrong, she demands Sarfaraz marry her right away, but while waiting at the chapel, she’s handed an anonymous note saying he’s not going to marry her, and Jaggu returns to India, broken hearted, but refuses to have anything to do with her parents.

Months later, Jaggu’s now a television producer for a news show, and happens to spot PK wandering around dressed like a loon and handing out flyers that are missing posters for various deities. She thinks he’d make a good story, because he’s different from everything else on TV. Eventually she catches up to him and gets his tale of learning about the different Earth religions, getting confused as to the different customs for each, and how none of them have helped him find his amulet so he can return home. Despite not believing he’s an alien, PK makes enough good points that Jaggu feels he’d still make a good story. PK has located his amulet, it now belongs to a local religious guru named Tapasvi Maharaj (Saurabh Shukla), who is passing it off as a pearl from a divine necklace. Jaggu’s parents follow Tapasvi Maharaj’s every word, and Jaggu’s effort to expose him as a fraud fuels further rifts with her father (Parikshit Sahni).
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Return of Mr. Superman (Review)

Return of Mr. Superman

Return of Mr. Superman
Written and directed by Manmohan Sabir
Return of Mr. Superman
In 1960, India would release not just one, but two movies featuring the American super hero Superman. Neither film was authorized by DC Comics, and both films starred famed actor P. Jairaj as Superman. Yet weirdly enough, the two films were produced by competing production companies. Both films were originally going to be called Superman, but producers from Mukul Pictures wrote a letter to Manmohan Films (ran by writer/director Manmohan Sabir), which resulted in Manmohan changing the name of their production to Return of Mr. Superman. At least, that’s how the story goes, though the oft-repeated story doesn’t seem to have an actual origin beyond people repeating it. The 1960 Superman film is not available to watch, though some songs from the soundtrack still exist. The only listings I have seen of out of print VCDs or VHS tapes all seem to be about Return of Mr. Superman, so the chances of actually locating the missing Indian Superman film might be a lot closer to zero than I want. If the past few years of lost films arising from the ashes has taught me one thing, it’s to never give up hope. Superman may still be out there, but until he returns to Earth, let’s make do with Return of Mr. Superman!

India would return to Superman a few more times. There is a well-known Hindi version of Superman that has become a common grey-market trading item. There is also a Telugu-language Superman film starring NTR called Superman, which we’ve covered before. Superman’s costume has appeared in musical numbers as well. Let us not forget about the documentary Supermen of Malegaon, which covered the making of a micro-budget Superman bootleg film. Nor is India alone in their bootleg Supermen, he’s popped up in films from Turkey, Bangladesh, and Italy, with suspiciously similar characters appearing in dozens of films from many origins. Superman just has that universal appeal that everyone strives for.
Return of Mr. Superman
Superman here isn’t the classic Superman costume we all know and love (nor is it the awful red and blue costumes from that forgetable story arc) Superman (or Mr. Superman if you’re nasty) looks like Commando Cody, complete with a crazy space goggles, mask, and cap over his head. He’s got a jumpsuit and a big cape, but still manages to not look like any other incarnation of the hero. My favorite aspect isn’t the goggles, but is his face mask that still has a hole cut for the mouth so he can smugly grin at his opponents as they land punch after useless punch against his chest, before he defeats them by lightly tossing them aside.

Superman gets involved in a complicated smuggling plot, dealing with criminals who continue to operate despite some super-powered guy running around foiling all their plans. It’s not a real mystery as to why that is, the cops in the film are so incompetent at catching these criminals that they often don’t catch them despite Superman phoning them with specific instructions. The only one with any competence is the guy who keeps answering Superman’s calls, and the cops only get effective when he’s leading them in the final battle.

Despite the print being in relatively good condition for a 1960 Indian film, there are obviously some missing segments. At one point two women are captured and Superman goes to attack the villains, but there is no actual rescue of the women. In addition, the main villain who sports a beret suddenly has a black eye for reasons unknown, possibly due to said missing rescue. Another thin is the sudden appearance of a Random Hero Dog, who may not be so random if he is from another part of the film, but as that part does not seem to have made it to the VCD releases, who knows. Finally, Helen is featured in the credits, but does not appear in the film as far as I could determine. She is also listed in the credits for the other 1960 Superman film, so maybe something shady was going on, or maybe her big number has been lost to the sands of time.
Return of Mr. Superman
As interesting as this movie sounds, it’s actually pretty close to terrible serials in quality. The chunks missing probably help the pacing a bit, though it looks like a few of those sequences were action parts, so maybe not. Definitely something to seek out for fans of obscure stuff, but Return of Mr. Superman isn’t going to make anyone’s bootleg super hero movie must-see list. It’s interesting for the obvious serial influences, but if you aren’t a fan of serials, you will get really annoyed really quickly.

As this film is obscure as heck, please enjoy the overly long film synopsis review. And there are no subtitles for Return of Mr. Superman, but at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!

P. Jairaj was a Bollywood actor who dated back to the silent era, his first film being 1929’s Jagmugti Jawani. Born Paidypathy Jairula Naidu, Jairaj was the son of an accountant in a well-to-do family in Hyderabad which set up a life for him to follow, but Jairaj dropped out of college to find his own fortune in Bombay. A friend who worked for Mahavir Photoplays figured he would make a good screen actor, and gave him a supporting role. This was quickly followed by the lead in 1930’s Raseeli Rani, and a string of films followed. When sound was introduced to Indian film, Jairaj had an advantage of speaking Hindi and Urdu (Jairaj also spoke Telugu, but I don’t believe he starred in any Telugu language pictures), but had the disadvantage of not being able to sing. Luckily, the playback system saved his bacon, and he continued being an in-demand lead actor through the 1950s. By the 1960s, his star had faded a bit, and he was relegated to character roles, though managing appearances in classic cinema like Sholay, Toofan, and Don. Through the 1980s and 90s he made less and less frequent appearances. He died in relative obscurity in 2000. Jairaj had some directorial credits, was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Lifetime Achievement Award in 1980, and is even in the Guinness World Records for having the longest-spanning career of an actor at 70 years.
Return of Mr. Superman
Sheila Ramani was a swinging leading lady in the 1950s, her best known role might be in 1954’s Taxi Driver. She was the niece of Pakistani producer Sheikh Latif (Lachchu), who not only got her some roles in Indian cinema, but some Pakistani films as well (such as Anokhi (1956)). By the end of the 50s, her star was on decline and she appeared in B pictures such as this one and 1959’s Tarzan-inspired Jungle King. She retired from film after getting married.

Filling the supporting/comic relief role here is Majnu. He was born Harold Lewis, a Punjabi actor who debuted in 1935’s Majnu, an action comedy that satirized the story of Layla and Majnun (and provided him with the nickname he’s use for the rest of his career!) Though he started in lead roles, he did a lot of supporting/comedic roles through his long career.
Return of Mr. Superman
So here’s the full scale Roll Call:

Jaikumar R. Dayal (P. Jairaj) – A mild-mannered reporter at the newspaper Azad Desh, Jaikumar uses his super powers to listen for crimes, then beats up the criminals, calls the cops, and writes stories about the crimes.
Mr. Superman (P. Jairaj) – Mr. Superman aka Superman who cosplays as Commando Cody fights villains and stands and grins at his opponents as they inflict zero damage on him. The only way to beat Mr. Superman is to damage his reputation, which he then fights by punching even harder.
Usha (Sheila Ramani) – Usha types up a lot at Azad Desh, and is possibly also a reporter, as she seems to go out and investigate stuff. Maybe she gets two paychecks this way! Or, more likely, it’s just assumed that women do all the typing in 1960.
Johnny Braganza (Majnu) – Jaikumar’s best buddy guy, sort of like Jimmy Olson. He’s dating Stella but always hitting on typist Shammi.
Stella (Naazi) – Johnny’s girlfriend, which occasionally gets her in trouble when Johnny and Jaikumar make enemies and she gets kidnapped. Naazi generally appeared in supporting roles in B-level pictures, including the Dara Singh Hercules (1964). Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much more about her online (unless she is also the actress Naaz?), and Google keeps thinking I mean “Nazi”, which means I’m now on a bunch of lists.
Typist (Shammi) – Shammi has a small role as a typist at the Azad Desh office, where she usually has to put up with Johnny Braganza hitting on her all day. This is especially alarming, because nowadays she’d win a million dollar lawsuit and own the Azad Desh. All hail Boss Shammi! Shammi started work in film in 1949 while she was still working at a pharmaceutical company. Taking a large variety of roles, from comedic to supporting to vamp to mythological, it’s said her willingness to take any part cost her big budget starring roles, but Shammi wanted to work more than anything else.
Inspector Dilip Desai (Ram Mohan) – The cop who does nothing but investigate tips sent in by Superman all day. Which works out pretty well, until the fake Superman starts robbing people. Then he teams up with the real Superman to finally bust the bad guys he keeps missing by a few minutes.
Boss (David) – The boss at the Azad Desh newspaper. Somehow puts up with Jaikumar and Johnny. David Abraham Cheulkar was a popular character actor from the 40s through the 70s. He died of a heart attack in 1981.
The Villain (Jagdish Kanwal) – The beret-wearing villain is played by Jagdish Kanwal. He’s the leader of the smuggling gang, and mastermind of all the evil things going on. Which means he spends the entire film getting foiled again and again before he’s finally defeated. Try not to be a loser next time, villain guy!
Shashi (Heera Sawant) – The bad girl who is part of the evil gang, and tries to kill Superman in between her seductive dancing for the members of the gang (which drives the members mad with fits!) Heera Sawant had a career as a featured dancer in many Indian B pictures.
Fake Superman (???) – It is a mystery who this could be! (Not really!)
Ram Dayal (???) – A local nice guy farmer who finds the alien baby child and raises him as his own son, Jaikumar. Raises his son almost too honest.
Random Hero Dog (???) – In the greatest sequence ever filmed, the exciting conclusion of Return of Mr. Superman features a random brave heroic dog who fights the villains. Where does he come from? Who is he? Questions you will ask forever, because the film doesn’t bother to tell us! Just enjoy the Random Hero Dog, and try to live your life as good as him/her.

Return of Mr. Superman
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Mary Kom punches out a trailer!

The full trailer for Mary Kom has been released. Priyanka Chopra plays the Olympic boxer in this biopic, which looks to follow all of the usual sports underdog stories tropes, except with the undercurrent of women fighting back against bad men in the wake of far far too many rapes in India. MC Mary Kom herself helps trains women in self defense, and hopefully films like these help inspire more women to stand up for themselves.

Despite not being subtitled, it still looks like it will a good time, one of those sports films where you cheer along with the audience. There is even the required training while in nature sequence that Rocky IV has made mandatory! But will there be a robot? I’m planning on adding it to my ever-growing too-watch list. Which means I will see it. Sometime.

Mary Kom is directed by Omung Kumar, and it releases September 5th in India. See some posters tweeted out by Priyanka Chopra here!