Samson (Review)


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!

Continue reading