Mini-review: The Killers (1969)

This is turning into Dara Singh month, which is essentially a constant struggle for me of no subtitles and significant amounts of missing footage. Nothing in this extra-low-budget Maruti-directed film made sense to me, and I doubt it would have even with subtitles and the 45 minutes or so that seem to have disappeared. It is essentially a bad formulaic spy film with Dara Singh as Agent Q and Sheikh Mukhtar as the secondary villain (the primary villain of course remaining unseen until the end) with the usual numbered henchmen and a lair lit primarily by red bulbs.

Most of it drags, but it contained just enough fun to keep me going and make me want to share here (this post is a *little bit* spoiler-y, although nothing significant).

Let’s begin with the title music. I am not sure if it is original OP Nayyar or not, but I will say that it sets the bar high for the songs in the film which are definitely written by OP Nayyar—and they meet or exceed it.

One reason for this is that Helen is our heroine Miss Kitty and so front and center for many of them. The flamenco number in front of giant Tabasco sauce bottles is not even the best one, and neither is the one backed up by an entire circus!

She works for Sheikh but Dara’s love reforms her and makes her turn against the Boss—and oh joy of joys, even burdened by the name Kitty she doesn’t die at the end but lives happily ever after as Mrs Agent Q (or so I assume).

Here is solid proof that everything is 100% Buh-Buh-Buh-Better with Bubbles!

Bela Bose gets a turn as an Agent Q Girl at the Sun ‘N’ Sand hotel, in a pair of gold lamé tights bagging at the knees and fringed pink shorts and a crop top. She works it in front of a crowd of staring goras on vacation who no doubt can’t believe their eyes.

Ajit is always a Good Thing so it stands to reason that two Ajits are Awesome. Sadly, there aren’t two of them for long and he is woefully underused in the rest of the film but I am still happy to see him when he does show up, especially with a bright pink neckerchief.

The sets are flimsy in the extreme, and also mostly kind of dull, but Kitty’s home is inspired even if it’s about to fall down.

Everyone ought to have a padded leather wall that matches one’s hair, don’t you think?

But with all that, the piece de resistance has to be Dara Singh dancing first in a sari and then a slim-fitting churidar kameez (with wig and accessories worthy of Helen herself), backed up by fat men in drag doing the twist. It is enough to give anyone nightmares for a fortnight.

Even Dara can’t believe he did that.

31 Comments to “Mini-review: The Killers (1969)”

  1. Title music sounds to my ears like an instrumental version of Sam The Sham’s “Wooly Bully”

  2. Title Music sounds like ‘The Beatles’ music (who were in India at the time) or may be not. It’s a really strange title though maybe Agent Q might have been better. Is the dvd/vcd available?
    Sometimes I think Dara should also be called the first “action hero of India” for those type of roles (before Dharmendra).

    Oh Dharmendra deserves the title ‘Angry young man’ much more than Big B with half a dozen angry roles he did like mera gaon mera desh much before Zanjeer.

  3. Totally Wolly Bully! The title phrase just begs out to be sung along! :)

    Two small points, other than the general and oft-repeated lament about the state of things for older, less famous films: 1) finally! someone who looks worse in drag than Shashi! and 2) I think I”ve seen that circular structure with the colored glass insets before…does Hema have it in Abhinetri? Perhaps it’s the one architectural element that remained upright.

  4. LOL, Moolchand (I think) in drag!!

  5. That “bubbles” song had my head spinning after a while. :-)

    And I recently saw Dara in drag in “Thief of Baghdad”. I thought that was it – but that is nothing compared to this elaborate part here. Nightmarish indeed!

    But somehow in a movie that has Dara, Ajit, Helen and Bela Bose, you can fast forward the Dara drag song and still have good memories. :-)

    • Well, the drag song was one of the few places where I didn’t FF…much of this film was just incomprehensible to me, and got old and tired quickly but that song was like watching a car accident happen :D

  6. Why was that drag song there? Oh well, stupid question. I suspect you have all the good parts of the film here on the blog, and we can give the rest a miss. :)

    • It was part of the CSP, which itself was quite strange and had nothing to do with the rest of the film. It involved some poor girl dressed up as a bride, carrying around a garland and trying to lasso Maruti with it as her skinny father cackled nearby. Maruti managed to keep dodging her, and for his part seemed to spend a lot of time fantasizing about Dara! For which I of course can’t blame him :D

  7. Oh God, I saw the drag song and now I shall have nightmares too!!! A dubious thanks for that ! :)

  8. OHH MY GIDDY GOODNESS! That song immediately had me shaking and twisting at 11 at night! From the title I thought this was a review of that Hollywood remake of the 1946 The Killers. But Dara and Helen would trump a Ronald Reagan and Angie Dickinson any day!

    This has got CRACKTASTIC written all over it, Dara looks hilarious in drag though with Todd highlighting his many crotch locks seeing him in drag would give anyone a nightmare! Whenever I watch a low budget Dara film I find so many crazy fashions and set pieces that I crave! Two Ajit’s with a mod and elvis wigs sound brilliant too!

    • There are cracktastic moments for sure, but the film overall kind of dragged a bit for me. Too many distractions and loose ends all over the place. Ah well. I still VERY much enjoyed the good parts—when it was good, it was very very good :)

  9. Did you notice that Herman Benjamin was one of the three choreographers listed (as ‘Herman’)? I was trying to figure out which songs he may have worked on. I decided the bubbles one for sure, and maybe the Circus one.

    Not just the opening music but a lot of the music throughout is either instrumental versions of American hits, or just the instrumental American hits themselves. I think OP did this one in his sleep.

    • Yes I did notice that, along with Robert (aka Surya Kumar)–I would actually bet that the Bubbles song is his. Robert/Surya is the one who choreographed “Jaan Pehchaan Ho” in Gumnaam (and it was his idea to have Herman lip sync the song) :) They very well might have collaborated too, hard to know!

      OP may have slept through the background music but I love the rest of the songs :)

  10. Was feeling a lil bit low today, but the song with Dara in drag lighted up my day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I feel compelled to point out that while Dara is a disaster in drag, he looked mighty Fine in suits and sweaters in the movie. Yes, indeed!

    • I am so glad you bring that up, Shalini. Yes—Dara was incredibly well-dressed in this, very natty indeed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so well put together (although I do love the short skirts and sandals in other films too). He looked very elegant!

    • Yeah, Dara looks abysmal as an ape in drag.

  12. I need to get myself better acquainted with the choreographers in Bollywood films, they are, after all, so very important to the enjoyment I get out of each film.

    I have seen Robert listed in the cast credits before, do you think the actor Robert is the same as the choreographer Robert? And is Surya Kumar another stage name for him, or is that his real name?

    Wouldn’t you just love to have a sit down with the various yesteryear choreographers and find who they enjoyed working with the most, and which stars had two left feet and drove them crazy?!

    • That would be delightful indeed! :) I have no idea if Robert the actor is also the choreographer. The choreographer (according to my pal Terence) worked under the name Surya [Kumar] but his real name was Robert; he was Anglo-Indian. Terence says he was their favorite dance master :) As both Surya and Robert he was hugely successful though, and with good reason! He died sometime back, too.

  13. Lorna’s brother playing 0.22 in helens dance clip.

  14. Do you want some recent photos of dancer Bela Bose. I have some. If you want then you can mail me. I will give you some. I took it when she was about to perform a Kathak dance in some recent stage shows.
    Saw that you guyz are great fan of her.But if u don’t want them. so its fine.bye

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