Darinda (1970)


Cast: Sudhir, Saloni, Talish, Aaliya, Rukhsana
Director: Shaukat Hashmi
Nutshell:  Diabolical Tribal Devil Worshipper clings on to eternal youth by providing the Evil God with freshly killed nubile young beauties.


Darinda introduces the viewer to an unusual genre of Lollywood spice, that of the Jungle epic featuring strange tribes with weird customs living in far flung hitherto uninhabited parts of the world, untouched by modernity or science.

It is in one such tribes that we are introduced to Sherumba (Talish) and his slave, the “Habpshi” Alauddin amid great celebrations in anticipation of Sherumba’s marriage to the tribal elder’s beautiful daughter.  Sherumba has other plans though and while the community are busy celebrating he whisks his bride to be away with his slaves help and he takes her to the Kumba god with his own nefarious designs.  Sherumba has made a pact with the Stone God and in return for granting him eternal youth, Sherumba must sacrifice five young women with a white streak within their flowing hair.  He has already sacrificed three but now time is running out and his hair is in danger of turning white and his true age could be revealed as a crinkled old man unless he is able to provide the young woman as sacrifice and maintain his youth.

He manages to drag his fiancée to the rock crossing numerous dangerous animals along the way but finally when the moment arrives he throws her to her death off the edge of the mountain and his hair and body are returned to their handsome, youthful state.  Now Sherumba has another ten years to find and sacrifice one last young woman and acquire eternal youthful life while everyone else shrivels up with old age and withers away.

He and his slave arrive at another area belonging to the tribe of Sudhir whose people are clearly semi Marxist types where there is no concept of class difference or personal wealth.  These are happy, gentle, fair people who treat each other well and justly.  They also tend to try to solve problems with their neighbours and enemies rather than resort to needless violence and bloodletting over needless issues unlike Sherumba’s method of dealing with people which is thoroughly insidious and politically motivated.

Sudhir’s girlfriend (Saloni) is sized up by Sherumba as his final sacrificial victim and he grows increasingly obsessed by her and how he is going to trap her with the help of his slave, who is repelled by his master’s vile plans yet helpless to disobey as it is his duty to be nothing but a slave.

There are wonderful scenes of song and of battle, some good jousts as well as some quite distasteful scenes of a hunt where many of the scenes are simply borrowed from other films and nature films but there are some scenes clearly shot by the crew that involve the usual barbarity with dogs, bears and a hapless wild boar. These scenes are easily the most offensive part of an otherwise thoroughly entertaining jungle-tribal yarn with Talish absolutely marvelous as the malevolent Sherumba.  Sudhir puts in an earnest effort as the Communist leaning tribal but it is the voluptuous Aalia who steals the show with her scintillating and intoxicating dances.

The film has way too many songs and you need to keep a finger on the forward button to keep a check on these and keep the film rolling along which it does quite merrily until its conclusion.  Darinda is a lark with a top-notch performance by Talish and solid support from the rest of the cast especially the alluring aalia.  Yes, the effects are hokey as are some of the sets but what it lacks for technical expertise, the film makes up for with loads of cheerful enthusiasm.

On the whole, despite the clunky nature of the film or indeed due to the very same clunky nature, the film works as good old fashioned, highly silly fairy tale like yarn and is surprisingly good fun.