Jungle Ka Jawahar (1953)

junglekajawahar

There are only a few things that I will watch without subtitles when they aren’t available in subtitled format: early Shammi films, really really old films (from the 30s, for example), old B-movies (if Helen and Dara Singh are in them), and—Fearless Nadia.

Imagine if you can the great joy I felt at finding this Nadia film on VCD. Thanks much Moserbaer! In 1953 Nadia would have been 45 years old and she’s paired with an equally older John Cawas. But of course young romance is not the point of a Nadia film! Nadia herself is, and she’s in great form here still: swinging through trees, riding on elephants, diving off cliffs and punching bad guys. This is all accomplished against a backdrop of outdoor jungle scenery and indoor cracktastic madness courtesy of Babubhai Mistry.

Synopsis disclaimer: this may or may not be accurate, but it’s the general drift that I got out of the action, anyway.

The film opens in Simbola, a vast unexplored jungle territory populated with ferocious tribal types and ruled by the fierce Sheena (Leela Kumari).

jkj_ranisheena

A big thorn in her side is Mala (Fearless Nadia), the daughter of a city-bred doctor who takes care of the native population’s health care.

jkj_doctor

Mala persists in saving people that Sheena has sent out into the jungle to die (insert lots of snarly lion stock footage) aided by her faithful horse Rajput, who can do things like fetch water in a bucket and then use it to revive her ginormous friend Nimbo (Abdulla—was he a wrestler by chance? He is very muscular and shows off his strength in many manly ways).

jkj_rajput

One day three strangers from the city arrive in a small plane. They are immediately attacked by savages, although they hold them off with their superior fire-power (guns > spears) until they run out of bullets.

jkj_kiran

Kiran (Dalpat) is captured first, with dimunitive Comic Side Plot guy Deepak (Shyam Sunder) second. The third stranger is Vijay (John Cawas) and he falls off a cliff into a deep lake. Nadia has reached the scene by then and executes a beautiful swan dive to save him.

jkj_swandive

Unfortuntately as soon as they reach the shore they are captured too, and all four of them are tied up against what looks like giant Pez dispensers (one resembling Richard Nixon!).

jkj_nixon

Much conversation ensues between haughty Sheena and Kiran, not a word of which I understand. I do know that Deepak makes funny faces which seem out of place considering that there’s a giant pot of boiling water (complete with giant wooden spoon) with their names on it.

jkj_cookingpot

Before they start cooking, the natives and Sheena perform a crazy dance (well, Sheena looks more like she’s twirling around on a ballet stage) in front of a giant black statue which resembles Kali (skulls and all) except that it appears to be masculine.

jkj_song1

Just as poor Deepak is being carried towards his doom, the good Doctor (Aga Shapoor) appears and stops the proceedings. He produces a statue-like thing (which I discover later is called the Rajanishan but do not ask me why) and the tribe prostate themselves in a group bow and freeze in place.

jkj_rajanishan

He unties his daughter and the three strangers from the Pez dispensers and herds them off home. There, he discovers that Kiran has come to bring news of his brother Ramesh’s impending death. The Doctor doesn’t seem to care much about this, but Kiran eventually persuades him that he should return to the city to see his dying brother.

Now we’re interrupted by the CSP, which is a lot more fun that the usual stuff. Deepak romances pretty servant Chulbuli (Rajini) with a song as she plays coy like a good girl. At the end of the song she hides behind some trees next to a big leaf-covered pit. When Deepak peers into it, he sees movement and thinks she’s fallen in there. He gets a vine and lowers it in, and then pulls out—a potbellied guy in an ape suit!

jkj_apesuit

I guess without the ape it would not be a jungle movie. This one might be a girl ape though, because it takes tender care of Deepak after he faints.

The Doctor now informs everyone that he will be going to the city to visit his brother. He needs some money (I am not clear on whether Kiran asks him to bring some or if he just needs it—I suspect the former) and they all accompany him to a cave guarded by tribals. He uses the Rajanishan to stun the guards (they freeze in the bowing position) and brings out a big box of diamonds.

jkj_diamonds

Kiran practically salivates all over it, but the doctor removes only one diamond and puts the rest of them back under guard.

Now it’s time for some love and another song (this one sounds vaguely Hawaiian and is very pretty) in the moonlight. Mala and Vijay get their groove going (he just doesn’t look the same):

jkj_romance

while Deepak continues to romance Chulbuli and accidentally engages himself to marry practically every girl in the local tribe by giving each one a flower for her hair.

Before the Doctor takes off with Kiran for the city, he hides the Rajanishan inside one of the support poles in their house. He leaves his daughter and Vijay in the care of Nimbo, and Deepak in the custody of the girls who all want to marry him.

When they reach the city, Ramesh (who is the Doctor’s identical twin) is not sick at all! They are furious that the Rajanishan is not in his bag, and try to force the Doctor to tell them where it is; when the Doctor refuses, Kiran shoots him dead.

jkj_doctorkamaut

Mala and Vijay are tricked into going to Sheena’s palace lair on the pretext of helping someone who is injured. Fisticuffs! with Nadia naturally kicking butt all over the place until she’s conked on the head. She falls conveniently onto a conveyer belt powered by a giant wheel.

jkj_conveyerbelt

Vijay continues his desperate fight as she moves ever closer to a giant…well, what I can only describe as a giant handbag. I have circled it below for your inspection.

jkj_bag

It goes up and down, landing with a dull *squish* and buckling significantly. It reminds me of Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition and the torture by comfy chair. I mean, wouldn’t it have been easier—not to mention scarier—to manufacture a large blade, or something that might actually hurt her at least? The giant handbag seems like it would have been a lot of work to put together. Anyway.

They escape eventually. Meanwhile, Deepak’s large wedding is underway, with a little ditty that I am compelled to share with you.

jkj_coconutsong

I really like the songs in this. They are very silly and catchy indeed. The music director was someone named Madhulal Master, and Shyam Sunder (who plays the hapless Deepak and was himself a music director) sings for himself. And Uma Devi (whom we love as Tun Tun) sings one of them too (I’ve appended it at the bottom of the post)!

Deepak is saved from his forced polygamy by the lady ape whom he had saved from a pit earlier (I’m certain she’s a lady ape now, and I’m sure you can see why).

jkj_deepakrescue

Kiran and Ramesh (now posing as his late brother) return to Simbola to find the Rajanishan and get the diamonds. They are soon working in cahoots with Sheena—they only want the diamonds and she wants the Rajanishan. They all want to get rid of Mala and Vijay! Will they succeed?

This movie is lots of goofy, over-acted fun, and just whets my appetite for more Fearless Nadia. I want to see Hunterwali! Diamond Queen! Somebody help! Here’s Tun Tun’s song:

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19 Comments to “Jungle Ka Jawahar (1953)”

  1. John Cavas was smokin hot.. and this looks like fun fun fun !

  2. My dream job is to be a sub-titler for these movies.

    Though after reading your blog, I realise there is a lot to be said for the hilarity introduced by abysmal sub-titling too : )

    You should watch these movies with some Indian pal, should get you over the more difficult bits.

    • I speak better Hindi than most of my Indian pals (which isn’t saying anything as they speak none at all…) :-) These films ought to be subtitled though, badly or not. They are too classic not to be shared with illiterates like me!

  3. I’m sitting here with tears running down my cheeks, simply because I’ve laughed so much :-)). The giant handbag – the lady ape (yes, kinda blatant, huh?) – the songs – the Pez dispensers: everything’s just too hilarious to miss. I noticed this film the other day on induna.com, and was in two minds about ordering it. Now I know! Am off to add it to my shopping cart, now.
    Am also on the lookout for Hunterwali and Miss Frontier Mail. Nobody seems to have it, though.

    BTW: Guess what? I’ve just discovered I share my birthday with Fearless Nadia – 8th January! My day is made. :-)

    • If I ever have to make a list of people I would have wanted to meet, Babubhai Mistry might be neaer the top. What I love about his sets and props (and special effects) are how much EFFORT clearly went into making them (not to mention imagination) and yet still…they are hilariously a bit “off”…

      So far the only opportunity we will have for Fearless Nadia movies on VCD or DVD are if they were produced by Basant Pictures instead of Wadia Movietones. The WM archives are not available for reproduction yet although I hope they are working on that :-)

  4. I didn’t know that fearless Nadia acted in the 50s as well.
    At times I feel you are like an archaeologist, who digs out bhule bisre films from layers of sedimentation!
    Bravo!

    • She made a couple of Fearless Nadia films in the 50s, including Circus Queen towards the end of the decade…and she acted in a couple more films in the 1960s as well.

  5. Memsaab, Dustedoff, Atul, Richard and all others who have great joy in unearthing Hindi film cinemas…

    I am in heaven (as in Hindi film one). Soon you might join me. Let me tell you why. Maybe you already know about this….

    Data 1: a few years ago, Dad asked me to look for songs by Kamla Jharia, singer/actress of his childhood years. I was disappointed to find I could only unearth a couple at most at thumri.com, but kept looking for them on youtube from time to time.

    Data 2: There was often a story in the papers about the Man in Peshawar who had the most amazing record collection in the world of Indian cinema right from its beginnings. Sometimes they would wonder what would happen to it after he died. Peshawar being out of my reach, I often dreamed of going through that record collection (very wild dream I know)

    http://www.pakistanlink.com/sah/06182004.html

    Today, through my Kamal Jharia search, I found out about a wonderful man by name of Surjit Singh_Maybe you already know about this- in which case, apologies.

    http://hindi-movies-songs.com/index.html

    And under his songs section he has the “entire b____y collection” of the Man from Peshawar steadily being uploaded to the website for listening!
    Not only that, collections from other lesser versions (=people) of the Man from Peshawar too! I have already 4 CDs of Kamla Jharia to gift my father with next week:)))..dances around!

    And, memsaab, hold on to your chair, a lot of the collections come with photos of the cast of the movie! I have spotted so far a young Sulochona, David with hair, a very cute baby Suraiya, and some early Lata gems. I haven’t had time to even start wading through the Massive collection!!!!

    Look here

    http://hindi-films-songs.com/panna.html

    or listen to this

    [audio src="http://hindi-films-songs.com/hcjsongs/1949_Ladlee%201949__Agre%20ko%20ghaghra%20mungawa%20de%20raja_Lata%20%20Ashalata.mp3" /]

    Please tell me you are as pleased as me…I have to share this with some one!!

  6. I am afraid to log off from the page in case it disappears—

    • You are funny :-) I have seen Surjit Singh’s pages before—the Actor Gallery in my sidebar links is on his site. He has inspired me to start creating one of my own too for reference!

      Looks like he has updated the pages recently, so Yay! Will go and check it all out :)

  7. rejoice with you, bawa!

  8. oh, I didn’t know about them..somehow they never came up in the searches I did until today.

    :((((
    should have known that memsaab would have beaten me to it by a long margin!

    • No, no! :) I am very happy that you discovered it and shared it with us, and hope your dad is very pleased with his 4 CDs—that’s a really special gift!

  9. Your blog should be re-tilted – “Unsung heroes and heroines of Bollywood” as you keep unearthing talented people who have either not got their due or were yesteryears famous people whom most of us don’t know of until now!

  10. nice stuff i was looking for this thanks for sharing

  11. Haha! It appears a fun movie. Female ape is cute !

  12. You just can’t go wrong with Fearless Nadia, Babubhai Mistry and Homi Wadia.

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