I’ve been dying to see this ever since I found out it existed. It’s not any big secret that I’m a sucker for an Arabian Nights tale, especially as done in 1960s India on a shoestring budget. And if Helen is in it along with Sayeeda, Minoo Mumtaz, Bela Bose and Madhumati, how can it possibly be bad? It’s a dance extravaganza! The music is by one of my favorite music directors, Ravi—and it is lovely. Alas, the film is only available on VCD so no subtitles; whatever I got out of the story I’ve basically made up wholesale because it was seriously bewildering. But the visuals are so fabulous (despite the poor video quality) that I thought it time for another comic-book style entry, which is my way of saying: “Look at the pictures and figure the story out for yourselves.”
Oh boy!!! A three-for-one deal! The film opens with an announcement by two of the sultan’s men (Ram Avtar and Polson), and then the sultan himself (SN Banerjee) is entertained by two lovely dancers:
In the sultan’s dungeon sits an old man, who is surprised when he hears thumping and banging noises coming from the floor and walls of his cell.
Alibaba (Baghwan), Sinbad (Pradeep Kumar) and Aladin (Agha) are surprised but happy to find each other in the old man’s cell. There is some discussion about the Princess’s wedding, and then we are treated to another song courtesty of Princess Jameela herself (Sayeeda) and her ladies in waiting. I like the song a lot so am sharing it here (just picture colored fountains and waterfalls!):
Please note how the annoying Ultra Video mark changes size and moves around—this happens throughout, and is occasionally accompanied by a stern warning against pirating which scrolls across the screen too, obscuring much of the action. This naturally only results in me wanting to pirate Ultra VCDs and DVDs instead of buying them! Why would I pay money for something as annoying as this, Ultra? Why?
In any case, after the Princess’s colorful waterfall song ends, our three heroes manage to escape with the old man thanks to the stupidity of the sultan’s guards. Sinbad heads straight for the Princess’s rooms; they are apparently already acquainted. I love her bathtub.
As you can see, the sultan’s guards find Sinbad there. Swords are drawn, and Sinbad escapes over the wall and reunites with his waiting friends. They are chased through the bazaar by the sultan’s men, knocking over fruit carts and so on as is always the case, before they find refuge in a restaurant owned by a friend (Rajan Haksar).
The buffoonish guards are easily led astray by the three dancing girls and their lovely song, and our three heroes, the old man, and their friend sit and talk about something. I have no idea what though. A magic show outside distracts them.
This prompts them to dress up in disguise and go to the sultan’s palace as magicians. I am highly entertained by the sultan’s lecherous little goatee-stroking midget:
and Agha dressed up as a gypsy girl, who has to bear the unwanted amorous attentions from said little person and the sultan.
(And Ultra inflicts yet another unwanted viewing obstacle on me.) Jameela runs away with Sinbad and his friends, although Sinbad appears to be surprised that she is the Princess. Didn’t he visit her earlier in that same palace? Isn’t the point of this visit to take her away? I’m seriously confused.
Then our three heroes are summoned by public announcement to the sultan’s court, and go to see him. It appears to be amicable, and they all leave without any problem. I have no idea what they talk about or if the sultan has any clue that Jameela is now staying with them, although the sultan’s vizier says something about her marriage again.
There’s another meeting at home, with Jameela looking shyly on, but I’ve got no clue what it’s about either.
In any case, Sinbad, Alibaba, Aladin and Jameela set sail on Sinbad’s (I assume) ship, and the adventures begin.
First up: Aladin spots a mysterious pink light flashing at sea, and Sinbad dives down to see where it’s emanating from. He spends some time walking on the bottom of the ocean while doing the breaststroke with his hands, which is pretty funny. He also finds a sword inside a giant oyster shell and does battle with a mostly unseen tentacled creature; Sinbad finally uses the sword to hack off the tentacles.
Khoon! It’s even that same gaudy red that we see on land. Once he’s back on board his ship with his shiny new sword, we cut abruptly to the desert somewhere, where Alibaba and Aladin have found a restaurant. Aladin is passed out drunk, and the manager asks Alibaba to pay their bill. Some other guy pays it for them and discusses something with Alibaba, who leaves the restaurant (and Aladin, still slumped over the table).
Meanwhile, Jameela and Sinbad are asleep on the sand when they are set upon by some horsemen who take them to their camp. I am thrilled to see one of my favorite bad guys, Shyam Kumar, as their leader. Sinbad catches sight of beautiful Zarina (Minoo Mumtaz) and romances her with a song (Why? This confuses me even more. Isn’t he in love with Jameela?) while Shyam Kumar assaults poor Jameela.
What is going on? Will Sinbad rescue Jameela? Or is he too distracted by Minoo? Where are Aladin and Alibaba? Tune in next time as Aladin finds his lamp (and genie Helen!). Plenty more adventures that I don’t understand at all await!