May 6, 2008

Daku Mangal Singh

Title: Daku Mangalsingh
Year: 1966
Cast: Prithviraj Kapoor, Dara Singh, Mumtaz

Bollywood has often offered up supposed "period" movies (think "Mard," "Toofan,"), which really cannot be pinned down to any period, and "Daku.." is one of these. The cast wears everything from European gowns to 60s style tight pants, which makes for amazingly entertaining fashions :)

Prithvi is the Chief of Police of Jaipur, then a separate kingdom.

A Dacoit (Daku, bandit) (DK Sapru, whom I love) was apparently raising hell in the kingdom; he has been captured by Prithvi, and thrown in jail. During the skirmish, the Daku's only son dies in the crossfire.

Prithvi's young son is betrothed to the King of Jaipur's daughter (she is a new born infant, he appears about 4).

While much celebration ensues during the betrothal of these kids (it was legal at the time), Mangal escapes from jail, and kidnaps Prithvi's son to avenge his own child's death.

Back in his hideout, the Daku is about to kill off the kid, in typical skewed Bollywood reasoning, decides to keep him alive, turn him into a dacoit, and have him face off with Prithvi when he grows up. Sapru should have been part of the UN- he is really that good at long-term planning.

In the blink of an eye, the kids grow up. We have a middle aged, pot-bellied Dara Singh as the dreaded dacoit Mangal Singh...

And the very lovely Mumtaz as the princess of Jaipur.

Dara loses his heart to the princess, who hates dacoits.

He gets to the palace pretending to be a prince from a neighboring state, and of course they fall in love...

But he is eventually found out,

and the entire army is after his life...

And somewhere in there it is revealed that he is in fact Prithvi's son and the princess' true betrothed fiance...

Lots of fighting ensues, and the evil minister is out to kill the king and imprison the princess...

When Sapru saves the day, and the kingdom by riding to the rescue...

And dies saving Prithvi and Dara....

What else is there to say? Does Dara get reunite with his parents and Mumtaz? Is the evil minister vanquished? Does peace reign at last?

Its a Bollywood movie from the 60s- the answers to these questions are more than obvious :D

1- Mumtaz- I love love love this woman- lots of energy, verve, and enthusiasm, which was obvious even when she did weepy roles (which were rare). She is completely adorable here.
2- Dara Singh- He spends the entire movie hunched over, trying his best to hide his obviously protruding stomach. Which is hilarious :)
3- Prithviraj Kapoor: He jumps all over the screen like a adorable pink and white, but very serious cherub, reminding one of his way more fun son Shammi. A bid of a case of miscasting here: he is obviously overweight (truly, I mean truly), and he huffs and puffs his way through the Daku's den etc., barely able to walk- I'd guess he'd have to be a tad more fit to play the Chief of Police that he supposedly was. Ah well.
4- DK Sapru did a number of movies, but this one was unusual in that he plays a somewhat negative character. He was dad to Tej and Preeti Sapru, who have both played minor villain-style roles in Bollywood through the 80s, as well as leads in regional Punjabi cinema.

Random Trivia:
1- Mumtaz Agha was born of Iranian parents who had settled in Bombay. She is Fardeen Khan's mom-in-law; with whose dad Feroz Khan she did "Apradh" (1972)- which is absolutely fabulous and coming up soon on this blog.
2- For those who have forgotten, Dara Singh was first a Indian wrestling champ in the 50s, and then world champion before he joined Bollywood in the early 60s, making most of his movies with Mumtaz (then a "B" movie actor herself). His biggest role to date has been as "Hanuman" in the 80s TV show "Ramayana."
3- Prithvi's dad may have been proud to see his son in "Daku..," since he was himself a policeman in Punjab. Prithvi played a small part in India's first "talky," "Alam Ara" (1931). Per my research, all copies of "Alam Ara" are lost, so a blog post may not be possible in the near future :D
4- The name "Daku Mangal Singh" is almost a part of folklore in India, though there is apparently no bandit in history who can lay claim to it. Watching the movie made me aware of the roots of the legend.

Random fugly pictures:

A Hawaiian shirt, Jodhpurs, a beehive and strange chauffer-style costumes for royalty, all in 1 pic...

No amount of hunching will hide that belly Dara- acceptance is the first step towards self-actualization ;)

Bhagwan, dressed as a psychedelic leperchaun..


Anonymous said...

Dara Singh really had some lovely leading ladies in some really bad films (Helen, Mumtaz...) :-)

This looks like a winner! For a day when I have something else to do too, and can't concentrate on subtitles, which probably isn't that necessary here.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

thanks Memsaab- I want to see more Helen as a leading lady- great thought- will research and find stuff :)

Anonymous said...

She was only a leading lady in some seriously bad films...but one of them is Aaya Toofan (with Dara Singh) and its special effects are astonishing(ly bad) and hilarious.


Anonymous said...

Dear Shweta,

You have no idea how much of a help your blog has been to me, especially at 3:40 am in the morning when I was writing my book and needed some information regarding Mangal Singh. And interestingly, the info is not available anywhere, from wiki to imdb. Thank you for putting it up, and in such a delightful, manner of style. i was in a hurry to finish a chapter in my book, and your writeup got me laughing like crazy. Anyway, cheers!

Unknown said...

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