Nasihat double-Daras you not to like it and wins!
Sorry. My brain is addled with grief and self-pity these days and half the time I don’t know what I’m saying. Unsubtitled Dara Singh films are proving most appropriate for my powers (or lack thereof) of concentration, and a loony band of smugglers calling themselves the Golden Gang—based out of the Hotel Mogambo—being infiltrated by CID officers cannot possibly be bad, right? Right. It is, in fact, deliciously campy and entertaining even though several of the plot points escaped me (most notably the CSP which I didn’t care about anyway). What did not escape me is that there are two Daras, one Randhawa, a Helen, a Madan Puri, a faux Chinese henchman, a midget, a plethora of corpulent bald wrestlers, and a Boss with a somewhat pitiful little Desk Lair from which he issues his commands.
The least pathetic thing about the Desk Lair is that it rises up from an underground bunker through a not-that-secret trap door. It holds a black yellow-eyed kitty with a red bow and a small Globe of World Domination (actually, it’s just a globe that Boss spins now and then, but that’s what I fondly imagine he thinks of it as). Attached is a mirror which folds out to reflect the henchpeople in the room (the Golden Gang is a positive celebration of diversity as noted above, and includes women too!). I am not sure what the point of the mirror is, since Boss often turns around in his swivel chair to address his minions face-to-face but please also note the sweet little green fluffy carpet that the Desk Lair sits upon, and the pointless side table beside the desk.
We of course never get to see Boss’s face (until the end) although I will say that I early on knew who he was from the distinctive voice. Desk Lair accessories also include two light bulbs, red and green, which flash to indicate stuff; and a little china fox (?) figurine which, when pushed, summons the beefy deaf-mute wrestler guarding the room outside by causing another red bulb to flash inside a stuffed tiger’s mouth.
Okay, enough with the Desk Lair. It just fascinates me that Boss conducts all his ruthless business of smuggling and murder from this five square feet of space populated with such random accountrements.
Trouble—usually the arrival of the police—is flagged by the man behind the reception desk (Keshav Rana) at Hotel Mogambo, the front for the Golden Gang’s criminal activities. Where there’s a Hotel Mogambo there must also be a nightclub with a cabaret, and we are immediately treated to a lovely Helen song (“Mujhko Deewana”) where she is backed up by four girls strumming ukeleles.
Boss’s main henchmen are Mohan (Dara Singh), who tipples constantly from a silver flask, Singh (Madan Puri in a red wig) and Rajan (Rajan Haksar). Singh is the hotel manager, and the gang’s hideout is accessed from a secret door in his office. Mohan Choti is a bellhop (along with the midget) although his GG activities are limited as he is mostly a foil for Sunder, whom I think is a private detective. They both seem to have very little to do with the main story, and are not funny in the CSP segments which I mostly fast-forward through.
Pinky (Helen) is also part of the gang, but she runs afoul of them when Singh and Rajan suspect her of being a police informant after seeing her getting a little too cozy with the head of the Central Bureau of Investigation (Tiwari! Yay!). She is murdered by Rajan, but the police arrive and he is forced to flee before he can recover her little diary, in which she has written notes telling all about the Golden Gang.
The police are naturally pleased to have this information but need solid proof to arrest anyone (since when, Hindi cinema?).
There are several car chases in which Mohan and company evade the police by inches and we also discover that Mohan lives with a girl named Dolly (Rajshree-South) who disapproves of his drinking and whom he doesn’t treat that well. I should say here that the internet believes this film stars L Vijayalakshmi but her name appears nowhere in the credits, and I am pretty sure that Dolly = Rajshree (South) who was also in Pyar Kiye Jaa.
I also love the decor and furnishings in the rooms she shares with Mohan, even if I do NOT approve of him pushing her over (he also lights candles by shooting bullets at them, which is kind of awesome although it doesn’t make up for his abuse of Dolly).
Boss continues to prove how very merciless he is by killing off some of his assortment of henchpeople with a
letter opener knife that has a blackamoor handle, which he dips in a bubbly chartreuse acid-poison and then pokes his victim with.
Eventually the police catch a break and nab Mohan after the small plane he is piloting crashes (or is shot down, I am not sure) during one of his missions for Boss. Randhawa also enters the picture as an undercover police officer following Mohan (who is hideously disguised for the mission and of course his contact is Chinese); and if that weren’t enough Brothers Singh goodness, a CBI Inspector named Naresh who looks exactly like Mohan (because he’s also played by Dara) is called in to take the place of hospitalized-under-police-custody real Mohan.
The Golden Gang and Boss welcome the fake “Mohan” back with open arms and I am thrilled when Madhumati turns out to be his go-between with the police. They communicate through notes planted in jasmine flowers, but then she sadly disappears for most of it although we get the benefit of her dancing skills in a fabulous song blending the western sounds of The Twist with Punjabi drums and dancing.
The dance numbers in this film are fantastic! Actually, all the songs are lovely and courtesy of OP Nayyar (except maybe the wonderful rockabilly title music which could be pilfered). There is a great little ditty with no lyrics picturized on gori background dancer Lino Jones in a black wig; she and her partner basically strut around like graceful chickens and I adore it. All three of my favorite choreographers worked on this film and it shows: PL Raj, Robert/Surya and Herman.
Dolly also welcomes Mohan back, and doesn’t seem to wonder why he suddenly treats her much better and even throws away his silver flask.
Then a mysterious woman called Sudha Sharma From Nairobi (Savita?) checks in to the Hotel Mogambo (I WANT those Air India Maharajahs!).
She purports to have some gold bars for sale but is actually a police plant as well. It doesn’t take long for Inspector Naresh to fall for her, although he also has to keep romancing Dolly to maintain the pretence that he is Mohan.
Will the Golden Gang and Boss figure out that Mohan is no longer “their” Mohan? Will the real Mohan escape? Will Dolly be glad to get the real Mohan back if so? Is the fact that Naresh and Mohan look exactly alike just a random coincidence that we’re supposed to swallow (here’s a hint)?
And most of all, do the police really have a chance against a gang full of wrestlers?! Especially the world famous Sky-Hi-Lee and Klondike Bill?
Tiwari appears to think not.
Like most films of this type, the plot isn’t really the point. The point is the FUN, and this one has that in spades! I loved it.