Sindbad (1975)


Sindbad (1975)
Cast: Shahid, Sangeeta, Munawar Zareef, Ishrat Chaudhary, Saba, Saqi, Adeeb
Director: Iqbal Kashmiri
Nutshell: Old fashioned fantasy adventure is full of mind-blowing special effects


Sindbad’s ship appears to be drifting to nowhere and his crew is distraught without food, water or medicine and unwilling to go an inch further. They threaten mutiny and abandon ship leaving Sindbad and Jigar, his sidekick to deal with the mysterious island they find themselves on. Fortunately for Sindbad and friend they are rescued by some friendly tribal beauties led by the curvaceous Queen Sania (Ishrat Chaudhary). The jungle women provide Sindbad and Jigar (Munawar Zareef) with plenty to eat and entertain them with an exotic dance. Just when it seems they’ve landed in paradise – the beauties mutate into bloodthirsty flesh-eating witches!

Sindbad’s skill wielding a torch manages to save the day, but only momentarily as far greater horrors lurk just around the corner. A statue turns into a benign bearded genie that provides Sindbad with a swank flying carpet that whisks him and his friend to a Kingdom ruled by the gorgeous Sangeeta and some corrupt ministers. Shahid (Sindbad) doesn’t take long to win over the princess’s heart that brings the evil prime minister to the war path as he had intended his own son to marry the brainless princess. The devious minister has a scheme up his sleeve which he promises will rid them of Sindbad once and for all. Just as Princess Sangeeta is about to announce her wedding plans the ghastliest horror is unleashed. The scheming minister unleashes his masterstroke through an evil magician who curses Sindbad turning him into a shrivelled-up hunchback with hideous, twisted features and the gait of an ape. Sangeeta is appalled and too shocked to react to the minister who has Sindbad banished from the Kingdom so that his son can marry Sangeeta.

Poor Sindbad is faced with the formidable challenge of tracking down the dreaded Khooni Parinda (Bloody Bird) and draining its blood and presenting the liquid to another witch like creature (Gulnar) who will then return him his dashing good looks, or so he hopes. Unluckily for Sindbad the Khooni Parinda is the most dreadful adversary ever known to mankind and the chances of him surviving an encounter with The Bloody Bird are not even miniscule. However, his looks are all important and he has no choice in the matter. It’s not long before Sindbad and Jigar spot the dreaded KP as it swoops down onto a bunch of hapless sheep. The KP descends, groaning rhythmically in keeping with its wing flapping motions, labouring along looking like a cross between a giant Russian Antonov and a flying cow. It’s not a pretty sight when the killer bird swoops down onto the sheep, carrying them away to their gruesome deaths moments later. Sindbad, desperate as he is, decides to skin one of the sheep and wear its hide to try to temp the Khooni Parinda to carry him away to its feeding area. Soon the monstrous bird flaps along for a quick bite and plucks Sindbad out, carrying him away in its giant talons then dropping him into its den where it plans to toy with him a while before devouring him for supper.

Sindbad takes full advantage of the Khooni Parinda’s rather ungainly movements (on land) and manages, after a helter-skelter fight to the death, to do the impossible – He kills the Bloody Bird by impaling its head with his sword. Then he collects the blood in a bottle so that he can offer it to Gulnar who is supposed to return him his killer looks. However, major complications arise as Gulnar falls madly in love with Sindbad (who wouldn’t?) and starts getting possessive and jealous and refuses to let him go back to Sangeeta. If he ever overcomes that issue, then a mad, disgruntled magician awaits him along with a distinctly nasty bag of tricks. This movie is a light-hearted action-adventure romance in the best Harryhausen tradition but with the most bewildering special effects ever created. The monsters are awesomely cheesy and the king of beasts The Khooni Parinda is a sight to behold – one of the cinematic wonders of the world demonstrating Lollywood’s unparalleled genius in the field of special effects.

Shahid and Sangeeta make a charming couple but Iqbal Kashmiri’s direction begins to lose its grip in the second half and the film begins to drag. The songs too are nothing to get excited about though one or two of the dances are rather bewitching. The supporting cast is impressive with “sex kitten” Ishrat Chaudhary and Adeeb excelling. A fun filled special effects extravaganza in the best old-fashioned tradition of Saturday morning TV serials the film builds brilliantly until the classic confrontation where Sindbad takes on the KP. After that, it all seems a bit of an anti-climax.