Jaanwar (1982)

Rajesh Khanna makes a fabulous Tarzan Dara Singh hero in this tale of palace treachery which extols the moral superiority of animals over man, a message I wholeheartedly endorse. Zeenat Aman plays a wild jungle girl (yes, it is as hilarious as it sounds), the rightful heiress to her murdered father’s throne, who has been raised from infancy by a very maternal gorilla—by which I mean a guy in an ape suit.

Plus, Pran as Dr. Doolittle! Oh, how I love B-movies. I was fortunate to get this one from my dear friend and Rajesh devotee Suhan, who also watched it with me and filled me in on all the unsubtitled goings-on—and there is a lot going on.

Our story opens with a glorious host of character actors: Murad as a benevolent king and Veena as his queen, the two finally being blessed (despite their advanced age, ahem) with a long-wished-for baby girl. The little Rajkumari is born after the king makes (and keeps) a promise to a goddess who takes the form of an eagle (so I’ll call her Eagle Devi Maa) that he will free all the caged animals in his realm.

Now that is a birthmark!

Unfortunately, the king’s younger brother (Pradeep Kumar) is not nearly as happy as everyone else that there is a new claimant to the throne. He enlists the help of a fearsome dacoit (Kamal Kapoor) who is made even more frightening by the liberal application of bushy faux moustaches on his face, some of them posing as eyebrows and later, as he ages, pasted on upside down.

King Murad has vowed to take the baby Rajkumari to the temple on a pilgrimage, taking with them a huge hoard of precious gems as a thanksgiving offering to Eagle Devi Maa. He sets off aboard an elephant which also carries two huge chests containing the treasure, the baby in a cradle and the king’s trusted advisor and friend Ram Singh (Pran). They are surrounded by guards who prove completely useless when Kamal (I didn’t catch the good names of most of these people and they were all named Singh) and his men attack.

The king is killed, but Ram Singh fights Kamal off (after getting a good look at his distinctive eyes) although he is badly wounded in the process. As he too falls from the elephant, he instructs it to take the Rajkumari to safety, which it does—gleefully trampling Kamal’s men in the process.

At the palace, Pradeep receives word that the Rajkumari and the treasure have vanished but that the king is dead. He announces that Ram Singh has betrayed his king and offers his baby girl Taramati to poor grieving Veena as compensation for her lost daughter.

The injured Ram Singh hears the proclamation blaming him for the tragedy and realizes that he has no way to prove his innocence; we are treated to some most excellent Pran Nahin Face.

It rivals even that of Ram Singh’s wife (Nirupa Roy), who flees with their young son Raju as their house is burned to the ground.

Meanwhile, the elephant has reached the temple; as it enters, the trunks containing the precious gems fall to the ground and the stones scatter, sparkling in the sun and reflecting on Eagle Devi Maa. The elephant kneels with the baby in her cradle and animals appear from the surrounding jungle. One of them, the aforementioned “gorilla”, climbs up and rescues the little girl.

As the credits roll, we watch her grow up, raised with love by the forest animals—big cats, bunnies, elephants, birds and of course her adoptive Gorilla Maa. Pradeep takes his brother’s throne and makes Kamal his right-hand man. Kamal wants his son Mangal (Prem Chopra) to marry Pradeep’s daughter Tara (Yogeeta Bali) in order to inherit the throne. And they all really, really want to find the former king’s long-lost treasure but have been unable to locate it.

Ram Singh’s wife and now-grown son Raju (Rajesh Khanna) have made their home in a village near the forest, and Nirupa still mourns her husband. Ram Singh himself is now a sage of sorts who talks to the animals.

Raju has inherited this skill from his father too, and enjoys a good swing through the trees. Mangal and Tara arrive in the forest for a hunting expedition and wound a tiger, causing it to ravage the surrounding villages in its pain. I am a little confused as to Ram Singh’s role in this—he seems to be helping the hunting party, although it seems out of character. In any case, the fearful villagers ask Raju for his help in finding the angry tiger and putting it out of its and their misery.

He goes to meet Mangal and Tara, and then Ram Singh is brought to camp, himself wounded by the tiger. Raju cauterizes the wound using a piece of wood from the fire (can you spell i-n-f-e-c-t-i-o-n?) and as Ram Singh clutches him in pain Raju is strangely moved by this “stranger’s” embrace.

Reunited! And it feels so goooood…well, maybe not so much for Ram Singh. But I adore the cheesy drama of it all. I only wish you could all hear the background vocals of “aaaah…aaaaaaah….aaaaaaaah” that accompany Rajesh’s facial twitchings.

Princess Tara is enchanted by Raju although she insists on shooting at everything she sees despite his efforts to stop her. He sings a song pointing out the virtues of animals compared to man (“Insaanon Se Jaanwar Achche Hote Hain”). The music in this film (Laxmikant Pyarelal) is sadly mediocre, although I probably would love the lyrics if I could understand them properly. In any case, Tara invokes the wrath of Eagle Devi Maa when she shoots at a cute little deer.

Please note that Mangal is not interested in blending into his surroundings! Eagle Devi Maa causes him to crash the jeep into a tree and they have to set up camp for the night; to his great frustration, Mangal’s attempts to romance Tara are thwarted by her obvious preference for Raju.

But early the next morning Raju sees a beautiful girl rising out of a bed of flower petals, clad only in her own hair (although subsequently she gets to wear outfits made from peacock feathers and the like!). Smitten at first sight, he follows her.

She is of course the long-lost Rajkumari, and her skills with the animals who brought her up are far greater than his. She proves it when she comes across him lying unconscious: he has been bitten by a cobra and she makes the cobra go back and suck its own poison out of his hand! Really, it doesn’t get any better than this. Plus, we know Zeenat is serious about her role because she isn’t wearing makeup, and I particularly love it when she gets up close and sniffs about Raju’s face.

When Tara comes looking for him, the Rajkumari retreats and watches in amazement—she’s never seen anyone who looked like her before, and has never heard humans talk. She repeats “Ju” when Tara calls Raju’s name and tosses a stone at her when she gets too close to him. Warily, she follows them all to camp, where we are treated to views of Rajesh’s chest hair. Suhan and I (and evidently the Rajkumari too) agree that it is so much nicer than the waxed over-muscled chests of today’s leading men, and we are glad that Rajesh likes to display it whenever possible. I also love his picnic blanket sarong.

Anyway. “Ju” and the princess soon begin romancing. He calls her “Ri” (cutesy for “Rajkumari” although he doesn’t know she really is one yet) and several annoying songs interspersed with footage of lovebirds and fluffy little baby bunnies are inflicted on us; it’s quite nauseating really. He tries to teach her how to speak although she doesn’t progress much further than “Ju” and “Maa” (naturally!!! Maa is universal!). Zeenat spends a good deal of her time posing provocatively in scanty leaf and peacock feather dresses, while Suhan and I revel in yet more equal opportunity Rajesh chest hair.

Raju takes his newfound pal Ram Singh to see the elusive Ri and she tosses some gemstones at Ram Singh from a tree. Gathering them up, Ram Singh quickly realizes that she must be the long-lost princess and heir to the throne. For some reason which I’ve forgotten if I ever even knew but is probably because he suspects who she is, Mangal has planned to kill her but is thwarted by Ram Singh and Raju (and the princess’ own kickassery).

To keep her safe, Raju (who is still ignorant as to her true identity) takes her home to his own mother, who tries to help him domesticate her. And one day of course she finally notices the girl’s distinctive eagle birthmark—a birthmark she vividly remembers seeing while bathing the infant Rajkumari long ago.

Mangal tries to kill Ri again, but Raju rescues her (although again she does a good job of defending herself!) and this time takes her to a cave for shelter, watched by a hidden Ram Singh. He then goes home to get his mother, who tells him who Ri really is and about his own father taking the blame for the king’s death and the disappearance of the princess and the treasure. When he returns to the cave, Ri is gone: Ram Singh has taken her to the palace as proof of his innocence, not realizing that he is taking her back to the very people who are responsible for that tragedy.

But when he meets Pradeep’s most trusted aide and recognizes those distinctive eyes, he sees his blunder all too clearly and too late. He hands the gemstones which Ri had flung at him to the king and tells him that she is the only one who knows where the treasure is. Pretending to be sympathetic to Pradeep and Kamal, he hands Ri over to them. Frustrated by her inability to tell them anything, Pradeep, Kamal and Mangal lock her in a cage, where she is discovered by both the Rajmata and Raju at the same time.

Raju unwittingly saves her for the moment by informing the Rajmata of Ri’s true identity. Thrilled to be reunited with her daughter, the Rajmata—who still completely trusts her late husband’s younger brother Pradeep—celebrates.

What will be Pradeep & Company’s next move? Can Ri be taught to communicate? Will she tell them where the treasure is? What will happen to Raju? Will his parents be reunited as well? Will Eagle Devi Maa have the last word?

I know this is a long post even by my verbose standards, but it is a complicated plot! I cannot in all fairness call this a good movie, but it is highly entertaining and Rajesh is charming. The veteran cast throw themselves into their roles with enthusiasm, and the lead pair’s chemistry is as sparkling as ever. Just know that still to come is Tom Alter as a ruthlessly efficient brainwasher and lots more fun with jungle animals: it’s a winner in my book!

52 Comments to “Jaanwar (1982)”

  1. If you think you might want to see this (and how could you NOT?!) Suhan has kindly shared it here:

    Part 1 – http://www.megaupload.com/?d=TY97ZED3

    Part 2 – http://www.megaupload.com/?d=R4EGQ5FK

  2. Wow, don’t think I’ve ever seen cobras sucking out their own poison before!

    • The best part is that it actually looked like it was delicately sipping out the poison more than sucking it out. Like teatime in the jungle! Totally fabulous.

  3. I WOULD see it for Tom Alter’s brain washing :) I bet Zeenat even gains an accent by the end of it :D Cant stand Rajesh, and cant help but contrast how much kinder you are to him than I am rofl

  4. Waah waah, lovely review. I kep reading and reading till I reached the end. I never realised that it is a long narration. I in fact wondered why it ended too soon. :)

    It certainly appears a fun movie. I too fully agree that Animals have better rights than humans. :) Oh, how I wish I too was raised by a Gorilla.:)

    • Well since the Gorilla was actually a man in a furry suit, you probably would not be much better off, ha ha. It is a fun film, although I didn’t much care for the songs (but others may disagree!)…

  5. @Memsaab – I never thought Rajesh had done a Tarzan-sque role but there are so many things I dont know about. For this and the animals alone, it might be worth a watch. I wonder if this film took long to make. In some pictures, Zeenie baby really looks like one. What happens at the end?

    • He seems to love swinging on vines! Lots of good stock wildlife footage too. Zeenat does look pretty young throughout, you are right. You will have to watch it to find out how it ends :D

  6. Hmm. This sounds a much more believable brought-up-by-animals tale than Fearless Nadia’s Jungle Princess. But Yogita Bali? Even if she isn’t the lead, her being there in the film is enough to put me off. :-(

    • Yogita is not a favorite of mine either, but she is just fine in this. Zeenat is believable as someone brought up by wild animals, but it is pretty funny even so.

  7. I only knew one hindi movie called “Janwar” with Shammi Kapoor and Rajshri. Never heard of the Rajesh Khanna version! Once again thanks to memsaab about this info.

    Those “Bambino” signs on the screencaps are somehow putting me off. I hate it when similar company logos invade the screen when I am watching other oldies too.

    • Bambino is egregiously bad (and since Moserbaer has taken it over and added their logo to the Bambino one as well it’s even worse!). I had never heard of the Rajesh version either until Suhan supplied me with it.

  8. This was such a treat to read, Memsaab. I love all your descriptions, especially of the scene where Rajesh and Pran’s characters are unknowingly reunited.

  9. Thank you for this review. It was not a long narration. As a matter of fact I thought it ended too soon :)

  10. I thought only Dev Anand had mastered the art of passing off faux moustaches as eyebrows.

    • I particularly loved the upside down one Kamal wore in old age. I suspect his sideburns might also be moustaches pasted on sideways. Fabulous.

      • oh common memsaab ….kamal kapoor is looking really nice in the old age avtaar in this film jaanwar.
        many people in real life look like that and iam happy with the make up….i mean he is looking nice ….i dont think the old age kamal kapoor’s moustache was upside down…..many people are like that in real life too…hari shivdasani…infact sometimes was like that…!

  11. Didn’t know that Zeenat Aman was also in B-movies (not that I’m a expert in that field).

  12. Thanks for reviewing this film….as very few people are aware of this movie…
    Its not a B grade movie but its a movie by Pardyuman Mohla – producer who earlier produced the mega git Dus Numbri( a film which i belive should never ever had been a box office success.
    This movie is no where near the classics of Rajesh Khanna from Aradhana to Awam to Swarg.
    This films and Mahachor are time pass non classic movies starring Rajesh Khanna.
    Wish Khanna and Pran had got scripts to act more together.
    I enjoyed this time pass movie

    • I thoroughly enjoyed this too, although for me all the stock footage, flimsy gadgets, faux outdoor sets and over-acting put it squarely in B-movie territory. But of course that is not a bad thing in my world.

  13. Hah on Rajesh’s awesome torso! What are the odds that any time folks google ‘chest hair’ this post is going to come out tops :-)

    No, a classic it ain’t but just the kind of thing right up your alley when it’s gloomy and rainy, literally and otherwise.

    You’re so right about the old faithfuls (character actors) giving it their all. Loved them. I don’t think I’ll ever not notice the way a mouche is pasted on from now on :-)

    And purely for altruistic reasons – here’s Zeenie in her later avatar in the film from the LP centerfold. Equal opportunity ogling zindabad!

    Jaanwar  - LP Centerfold

    • Wow! What a centerfold! :-P Have got me 90% convinced to see the film :-D (-10% for Rajesh in his waning days)

    • Thank goodness you were there to tell me what was going on :) I really would have been lost without your commentary I think. But it is really good fun! Chest hair screenshots are just for you only ;-)

      • so can we expect you to create a new heading shirles rajesh khanna…
        pictures from prem bandhan, shehzada, joru ka ghulam, masterji etc…can be put

  14. Making a movie in Cinemascope was an expensive and big issue in those days. Jaanwar was a big movie made in Cinemascope large screen. This point again to suggest that it is not a B class movie.

  15. Seems there are two men in gorilla suits ;-)) ~!!

    Zeenie Baby is always good eye candy – as long as she does not speak too much Hindi! (I luv her English though).

    Never heard of this clunker! Must have sank like a stone when it was released. Manmohan Desai (re-) started this trend of films with his Dharam Veer. Released in 1982? Rajesh was already over the hill (except for his diehard fans).

    • It is very much in the Manmohan Desai genre. You might like it because Zeenie doesn’t speak much at all through most of it except to say “Ju! Ju!” ;-P

      • Greta – seems you will force me to get my own broadband connection! :-) (it wouldn’t be ethical to download such huge files using my company’s connection). Till then will enjoy exchanging notes on the films.

  16. A correction. The movie was released in 1983. It took over three years in making 1979-82 and the muhurat was lavish. It had the then top star Rajesh Khanna, Zeenat Aman, Pran, Prem Chopra in the star cast and was made in widescreen format. Laxmikant Pyarelal were music directors and some songs – Mehbooba, Insano se janwar ache hote hain were popular and were in top league for a few weeks. The movie did well in certain sectors and was an above average movie. I think this was the last movie of Rajesh Zeenat after Ajanabee, Chailla Babu, Ashanti and Aashiq hoon baharon ka

    • There were definitely some continuity issues (Rajesh hair length etc.) so it doesn’t surprise me that it took a while to make. Great cast, I loved everyone in this.

  17. Memsaab, that was quite entertaining!!! Thanks.

    I remember the huge advertisement in the weekly Newspaper Screen for this Movie…where Rajesh and Zeenat clad in leaves featured…Haven’t seen the movie though….

    @Suhan..Thanks for adding “masala” to this review with that LP centerfold link and immediately it attracted the “right” kind of gentry :D It was like an Item song added to this review…


  18. Jaanwar 1982 is a classic of Rajesh Khanna
    ( i take back my statement that its not a classic) Its not on same par with Amar Prem, Aam,Chailla Babu or Prem Kahani or Kudrat because this film belongs to totally different genre.

    I saw this films after many years yet again from the link given above.May be at the back of my memory I thought this box office superhit film was not a classic and was on par with Mahachor type of silly film.
    Mahachor was of genre of Coolie,Mard type of faltu film.

    Jaanwar is way ahead of Dharamveer,Chacha Batija,Maa(76),Coolie, Mard —
    i realised this coz of folowing
    1)There is no goof up in the film…
    2)In Chacha batija there was awkward stunt of horse diving and cjumping over a running bus..nonsense.

    3)Effective use of animals.
    4)Remember Janwar 1965 really didnt need the title Janwar for any reason….the title was only given coz of narrow mindedness of Prithviraj kapoor’s character in that film.tile could have been Garoor or something….
    5) fantastic facial expressions of Rajesh Khanna in the various scenes with Nirupa Roy and Zeenat Aman and good use of voice modulation
    6) Mard,Coolie,Chacha, Maa — all had very low class music by Laxmikant Pyarelal but here in this film as usual they gave good meaningful melodious music for Khanna.If this film had Rajesh RD combo it would have been no doubt greater.
    7) haathi mere saathi was a classic film and this one is even better than that.
    8) Lyrics is greater.

    memsaab i didnt get you when u said “Reunited! “….as Pran and Khanna just meet at that point of the film as friends…..on elderly and other a boy of his kid’s age….so not a goof up…
    memsaab another suggestion just make one new addition “Rajesh Khanna shirtless”…pictuires can be from Joru Ka Ghulam,Masterji,Amardeep,Dil E Nadan,Shehzada etc…so that the anti khanna person Subhash K JHA DOESNOT KEEP TELLING rAJESH kHANNA was always covered from head to toe.

  19. Laxmikant about Khanna in an interview—-Rajesh Khanna was lucky for us and we were lucky for him too. From the 1969 Do Raaste to the 1986 Amrit, we gave hits together both as films and as music scores…. When we went on our first overseas concert tour in 1984, he came and danced to three songs. He was very particular about his music and would take a tape home if he could not assess a song. He would then give his feedback after a day or two. But if he liked a song at the sitting, he would loudly shout “Wah! Wah!” in appreciation…. It was God’s blessing that we came up with such a vast range of hit songs for him, including in his home productions Roti and films like Chhailla Babu, Chakravyuha, Fiffty Fiffty, Amar Deep and Bewafai etc . Incidentally, he had a stake in Mehboob Ki Mehndi too. He had great interest in music and a terrific sense of melody too. His music is dominated by Pancham (R.D. Burman) and us and we accepted Shakti Samanta’s Anurodh only because Rajesh Khanna had some misunderstanding with Pancham then and did not want to work with him.”Khanna would always request music directors to fit in Kishore Kumar wherever possible. In fact, Kishoreda was very reluctant to sing “Waada Tera Waada” in Dushman and suggested Laxmikant Pyarelal to get it sung by Rafi. Then Laxmikant made Kishoreda meet Rajesh Khanna and Khanna winked at Laxmikant and told Kishoreda that in that case the song should be scrapped. On hearing this Kishore immediately agreed to sing it by himself for Khanna

  20. I have never even heard of this movie called “Janwar” (1983) till I read this movie. So I do not think this movie was any great shakes when it was released.

    • just see the movie from the given link.
      you will relaise its a A grade classic hindi movie.
      Its on par with Haathi Mere Saathi.
      It sreally unfortunate that many of the Rajesh Khanna’s films are not much publicised in this internet world.
      In the eighties vcr had come and radio industry died a death .
      Khanna’s film always had music only working as promotional activity before the release of his films as he rarely gave interviews or did something for publicity.
      once film released khanna’s performance and other member’s contribution only holded audience in theatres.
      so those who saw the movie are bound to rave about him…

      Jaanwar was a superhit classic in the year 1982..(not 1983)

  21. I mean I became aware of this movie only after I read this review. I was still clued in on Hindi movies in 1983. So this has to a mega flop for it to go unnoticed by me.

    • Believe me, it is no great shakes although it is fun. But a classic it is not. But you can’t tell some Rajesh fans anything they don’t want to hear :)

      • may be many of the hindi dialogoues meotional and other meaningful ….words exchanged between Khanna and nirupa roy and khanna and zeenat and even the taunts by pran to pradeep kumar etc…at many places you may have not understood as the hindi spoken here in this film is village hindi…

        hope you read the reasons for me liking the film..when i saw it yet again yesterday from the link u gave.
        initailly i had seen this years back and later i began to eel as if its on that level with mahachor…… but now i find the performance, storyline, music everything much better than other make believe films of this kind…its much times better than coolie, mard, chacha batija…the screen color looked dull but i guess its the issue with DVD print..

  22. pyyar ki waadiyaan de rahi hai saza….in this song you can see how musi minded is Rajesh Khanna.
    Correct expressions and also the correct beats he plays from his hand while playing dafli.thats the reason Laxmikant praised Khanna

  23. Thanks Memsaab for reviewing this movie. I have not seen this, I knew the plot, the style and the formula of the movie.

    I am not too sure I’ll like the movie, but I knew all along that you would love this.

  24. Memsaab after long time u r reviewing our Super Star Rajesh Khanna’s movie Jaanwar of 1983.

    Jaanwar is one of the classic movie of Super Star Rajesh Khanna.


    A young woman (Zeenat Aman), who grows up in the wild, knows the secret of a lost treasure, and is also the heir to the throne. She meets with a young man (Rajesh Khanna) and both fall in love. Then the people find out that she actually is the heir to the throne, so she re-locates to the palace. Once there, she is brainwashed into forgetting who she is, and the man she loves. Notable song: “Pyar me nazar churai nahin jati, apno se koi baat chupai nahin jati, dilbar janam janam, janam janam…”;

    But the print u have published its not good quality pictures. Any how thanks memsaab for review our Super Star Rajesh Khanna’s movie once again.

  25. What a wonderful review, Memsaab! You area gifted writer for sure.
    I am still recovering from laughing fits after reading your description of Kamal Kapoor’s moustache, and Pran’s ‘Nahin ‘faces better than Nirupa Roy (who IMHO is the queen of Nahin faces)
    And a bare-chested Rajesh again! How did I miss this movie?

  26. I watched jaanwar in the theatre. I wonder why kaka who had such a good script change, chose to do this film. There was no scope for him to act. It fared badly.

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