Kong count #24 – Kongsploitation on the subcontinent

As one of the world’s largest cinema industries, it’s little surprise that Bollywood has jumped on the King Kong bandwagon a time or two. The first I’m aware of is Gorilla (1953), featuring a regular-sized gorilla, followed by King Kong (1962, try googling that and not getting the Toho movie!), and its follow-up Tarzan & King Kong (1965). It’s weird that these would feature regular-sized apes, while the more generic-sounding (and unrelated) 1964 Tarzan and the Gorilla appears to have a big one. Either way, I wonder if Merian C. Cooper ever found out, considering his desire to see Kong and Tarzan tussle on the big screen.

gorilla-1953 tarzan-and-king-kong

tarzanandthegorilla

I haven’t actually seen any of these, but I did get a chance to watch the 1963 movie Shikari (which translates to “Hunter”), though my comprehension of Hindi is pretty nonexistent…Indian cinema doesn’t seem to get translated much in general; I’m not sure if it’s the extreme run times or numerous musical sequences that tend to scare people off, but at least in the case of Shikari the production values were on par with some of the Hollywood pictures of the time.

shikari

The director of the picture, Mohammed Hussain, also did the 1960 Bollywood Superman (which, as far as Indian Superman flicks go, isn’t the worst), and as well as cop flicks and spy movies aping the hits coming out of the west at the time, so I was honestly surprised by just how much the movie doesn’t lift from King Kong; yeah, there are the entertainment moguls (in this case a circus) going into a jungle full of dangerous animals and natives, a giant ape, and a dinosaur, but there’s also mad scientists and a miniature woman! On the other hand, it does take over an hour for the monster to make its first appearance, so if you’re one of the “Get to the f-ing monkey” types, you might have a bad time, especially since following that the ape disappears again for nearly another hour (there’s no equivalent to the New York scene; so this isn’t really that much of a Kong remake after all), but the intrigue with the kitschy high-tech mad science lab is enough to keep us engaged. It’s best remembered for its musical numbers, though, which were quite the hit upon release, and still up all over, much more so than the monster footage.

shikari1 shikari6  shikari7 shikari2 shikari4 shikari5

So, yeah, Shikari wasn’t bad at all, so I had to go and jinx it by pressing my luck and following it up with something legitimately horrible: 2010’s Banglar King Kong from, well, Bangladesh. That movie is rotten on pretty much every level (well, maybe not script, I don’t speak Bengali either): the Kong costume is atrocious, the actors obnoxious (though, I did sort of like how the Jack character is dressed like a karate-kicking pink-shirted cowboy, but that’s just because it reminded me of 70’s-era Kamen Rider), the music is lifted from countless Hollywood films, and the effects (the ones not stolen from King Kong ’76 or Mighty Joe Young ’98) look like a middle school class project. Even the quality of the film stock oscillates wildly from shot to shot, making it feel like some sort of weird patchwork movie, even when it’s the same characters on screen…I don’t even understand how that happens in a movie made less than ten years ago. In case I wasn’t clear, it’s pretty rough.

banglar-king-kong

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4 Responses to Kong count #24 – Kongsploitation on the subcontinent

  1. John Summers says:

    Thanks for mentioning the Shikari movie I showed you. It really is amazing just how many kong ripoffs and other kongsploitation movies there are. However, I have something to ask you.

    From what I hear, the Kong fandom (please note by “Kong fandom” I am talking about fans of the classic 1933 take on Kong and aren’t really into Godzilla and other kaiju”) does not like either of Toho’s takes on the character to the point of referring to them as KINO (Kong in name only) and the classic Kong as the “real Kong.” Think of it as their GINO. Do you think that with the massive liberties Toho took with the character, their position is reasonable and justified?

    • kevnder says:

      Sure, thanks for the links!

      As for personal canons, it’s very much to each their own, in my book. Personally, I think the various animated series treat Kong as something farther from the original movie than KK vs G does, but I wouldn’t call any of them KINO. Well, aside from that “kino” is the German word for cinema, in which case it’s all kino.

  2. You can get a subtitled DVD of Shikari on Amazon. That’s how I watched it :)

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