Thakur Jernail Singh (1966)

I love a good daku-drama, and Dara Singh makes one very satisfyingly manly dacoit (I mean, he is the guy who later carved “MARD” into his infant son’s chest). This film is surprisingly serious much of the time though, with an unexpected (at least to me) ending; it’s not his usual lighthearted type of stunt film although there is plenty of delicious fun to be had nonetheless. Director Mohammed Hussain has long been one of my more prolific and dependable favorites, having delivered the crazy likes of FauladShikariMain Hoon AladdinCID 909Teesra Kaun, and on and on). For the cast he has roped in his usual stalwarts, including Helen as heroine and perpetually belligerent Shyam Kumar in a Prince Valiant wig. And of course, being a “B-movie” it has beautiful music too, with lively dances from the gorgeous Bela Bose, Madhumati and Rani, among others.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Thakur Pratap Singh (Amar) is a callous and arrogant man who drives his loyal servant Mangu (Jayant) to vengeance after he murders Mangu’s young son Nandu, shoving him against a stone pillar that cracks his little head open. (I’m skipping the scene where a gorgeous tiger is hunted down and shot because I prefer to forget about it, not that it’s worse than this.) Pratap Singh is not in the least sorry, either.

I’m right there with Mangu: conceal it? REALLY? Expecting someone to cover up his own child’s murder is a bit much, even from a man as loyal as Mangu.

Mangu spares the Thakur’s life, although he could easily have killed him, and takes to a life of banditry as Thakur Mangu Singh. He does maintain some of his former moral standards, however, allowing his men to burn and pillage but forbidding the rape and kidnapping of women (and distributing his spoils to the poor). Then one day the fair comes to town, a portent of dire consequences as well we know. I love the rickety rides operated by men instead of machinery, and am thrilled to see a Bela Bose song and dance.

Thakur Pratap Singh enjoys her dancing too, along with his own two young sons Jaichand and Prithvi; but as he drives home with his tired out boys that afternoon, Mangu seizes his opportunity. He snatches away younger son Jai at gunpoint, trading a son for a son, and takes him back to his hideout and his men.

As he gives a speech about the wealthy being worse dacoits than they are, exhorting them to steal from the rich and give to the poor, Daku Psychiatrist Balwant (Habib) busies himself with brainwashing young Jai.

Mangu changes Jai’s name to Thakur Jernail Singh, and he is brought up by the gang who teach him to shoot with deadly accuracy and to wrestle of course. I am so happy to see barrel-chested Shyam Kumar as fellow dacoit Shyam Singh, who is envious of Jernail Singh’s accomplishments and status as Mangu’s son. Meanwhile, Prithvi grows up to become a police officer (Sheikh Mukhtar) at his father’s urging: Pratap Singh has never given up hope of finding long-lost son Jai.

Prithvi is a talented police officer, and the local Police Superintendent (Madan Puri) assigns him the task of hunting down Mangu and Jernail Singh. The Superintendent has a beautiful daughter named Bina (Helen), who is introduced one day in the manner of just about all Dara heroines: he rescues a stunt man wearing a head scarf her from her runaway horse.

Unlike most heroines he keeps from certain death, or at least broken bones, Bina is immediately smitten by her savior. He is wary of giving her any personal particulars, especially after she tells him who her father is. But they arrange to meet the next day and Jernail rides off to his next appointment, with a kotha dancer named Rajeshwari (Indira Billi). Rajeshwari is in love with Jernail, and doesn’t seem to notice that his responses are very lukewarm indeed. He uses her to get inside information about activities in the town which might be ripe for raiding.

The wedding procession includes Prithvi, dressed as a member of the band (another trope). When the dacoits attack the police spring into action, and by spring into action I mean fire off their weapons without hitting anything at point-blank range. Shyam Singh escapes with the screaming bride in tow, while Mangu ends up at his sister’s (Ratnamala) house. We discover that Pratap Singh had also long ago killed his sister’s husband, which begs the question of why he had remained loyal to him afterwards and not expected more tragedy? Khair.

Jernail Singh follows Shyam Singh in order to the rescue the kidnapped bride from him and his heavily armed men, and after some requisite fighting does so with the aid of conveniently marked boxes of gunpowder.

Mangu and Jernail are worried that there’s a plant inside their gang feeding information to Prithvi, who has become quite a thorn in their sides. They decide to set a trap for him by sending someone to invite him to a theater presentation (excuse for a song!), during which Jernail searches his home. I am not clear what he is searching for, but generally it seems to be an excuse for Jernail to unknowingly confront his real father.

And things at the theater don’t go well either: a suspicious Prithvi makes sure of that!

Mangu has been wounded and taken into custody.

Can Jernail Singh rescue his father? Will Prithvi be able to get the whereabouts of his brother out of Mangu? Will Bina still love Jernail when she discovers who he really is? What will tawaif Rajeshwari do when she discovers his romance with Bina? Will he and Prithvi ever figure out that they are brothers, or are they on a collision course that will end in tragedy? And most of all, will our barrel-chested Prince Valiant succeed in his quest for revenge?

Watch Thakur Jernail Singh to find out! And also for the songs and dances which really are fun, the horses—I really missed Gemma watching this, she would have been barking her head off—and the plot twists and turns still to come. Be prepared to be surprised! My only issue with the film is that Dara’s voice seems to have been dubbed by somebody else, and it’s not a voice that suits him.

But that’s a minor quibble compared to all the Goodness. Convoluted subtitles reign (and I am so very grateful for them):

and I never, ever, ever get tired of Shyam Singh, who fortunately never, ever, ever gives up even when he’s clearly out of his league.

It’s another winner from Mohammed Hussain and Dara Singh.

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23 Comments to “Thakur Jernail Singh (1966)”

  1. Memsaab please give me your email. You gave it to me but I could not copy it. You can send your email on my email which is: EMAIL: sunrise607@rediffmail.com
    I will send you my father’s Writer Vrajendra Gaur’s photograph with Rajesh Khanna, which I had mentioned in my earlier message. Also please help me by guiding me as to how I could preserve old posters and frame them? My father had written Kati Patang, Anuraag, Sharmeelee, The Great Gambler, Teen Deviyaan, Manzil etc.etc. This is to refresh your memory.
    Thanks very much.
    Suneel

    EMAIL: sunrise607@rediffmail.com

  2. Helen looks so beautiful. If I am right, I remember reading about this movie. It was filmed around 1962-63 and was released only 4 yrs later.

    • Oh, that would explain the dubbing! I could not figure out why in 1966 Dara wouldn’t do his own, but if it were that early maybe his Hindi wasn’t up to scratch yet :)

  3. Really, Dara Singh in another voice? Why? Anyway, the film does sound like fun. And Indira Billi is getting to be one of my favourites. :)

  4. Hehe. Sounds like much fun. And Helen’s looking so pretty.

  5. Looks like I am the first to respond!!! Yay!!!

    Amazing review, Greta! Frankly, I was not aware of this movie. Dara Singh is surely my favourite and with Helen as heroine, I MUST find this one. Seems so much fun, although the plot looks complex. Hope it is not.

    Thanks for this hidden gem, Greta!

    • I’ve had it on vcd for some time, but couldn’t resist when it came out with subtitles on dvd! Hooray for subtitled Dara! The plot is easy to follow, moves along at a good pace for the most part punctuated by some fun songs and dancing.

  6. Ha ha! Sounds like a real fun movie, memsaab!!! And of course your review is hilarious, as usual. :-)

    Actually I couldn’t help feeling this has a lot of similarities with a daku story that we were making up on PKK in its early days. We used to just make up our own script – and we came up with one that was a lot like this (without knowing about this movie, of course). :-)

    Dara Singh, Helen, Bela Bose – and Shyam Kumar!!! That’s quite a treat!!! I just love seeing Shyam Kumar on screen – what a presence he had!!!

    The song “hum tere bin jee na sakenge sanam” in this movie used to be quite popular – I first heard of this movie only because of this song. It used to play very often on All India Radio. Ganesh, the music director (who happened to be the younger brother of Pyarelal (of Laxmikant Pyarelal fame)), needs to be better-known. He didn’t compose much but has composed some very pleasant tunes.

    The subs seems to be a lot of fun too. I was ROFL at “what if your tears make me helpless to be disloyal towards my duty?” Am just guessing the original might have gone something like “Aur agar tumhaare aansoo (tears) mujhe mere farz (duty) se gaddari (treachery) karne ko majboor (helpless) kare?”

    I also absolutely loved “Your darling is sharpening herself in front of the mirror”. (I presume Tuntun and Kamal Mehra are the CSP – a bit like in Shikari, also a Mohammad Hussain movie).

    Thanks for this review, Greta. Has its share of nuggets of good fun, as always. :-)

    • One daku film is much like another I think. But this was a real treat for the cast, especially dear Shyam. He was absolutely (inadvertently maybe, but maybe not) hilarious. Kamal Mehra was the CSP mostly by himself, Tun Tun only appeared for a few minutes (but is always welcome!). He was in love with Rajeshwari, who was in love with Jernail Singh.

  7. WRite something about the dorector Mhod Husain…looks like a interesting character himself
    …google is not much of a help!!

  8. He’s not credited but I am 99.99% positive that he is Amar; he plays Thakur Pratap Singh.

  9. Memsaab – Sounds like a fun movie to watch. When in school, we would often hear some of the songs from this movie being played on the radio and wonder about the title Thakur Jernail Singh. After that this went totally off my radar until now. I have made a note to look for it. These so called B movies have a lot to goodies to offer.

  10. Dara Singh was considered a hero of B grade movies in his time. However labelling any movie as B grade just because of the star cast is sheer injustice. There are several movies labelled as B grade being much superior to the so-called A grade movies. Hum Tere Bin Jee Na Sakenge Sanam is a great song of Asha Bhonsle. And after reading your review, I am damn sure that this movie is a nice entertainment. Till the eighties, the bandit movies made in Hindi were having an aesthetic flare. The trend got vitiated only during the nineties when semi-porn and useless movies started to be made with the stories of male / female bandits. Dara Singh was an amazing actor and his contribution to Indian cinema is invaluable.

  11. Just found your blog. Hilarious subtitles in this movie. I also enjoy crooked subtitles in Hindi movies. I would enjoy even more if I knew other regional languages as well.

  12. I want to know about beautiful dancer Rani who acted in b grade movies and performed so many dance numbers . Who she was and what hapenned to her.

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