It’s hard to believe that, back in 2010, I spent an entire month watching nothing but jungle adventure movies. This especially because I do not particularly care for jungle adventure movies. You see, readers? Such is the mania that my love for you inspires.
Israel, Indonesia, Egypt and India, to name a few. The trouble is that, rather than simply speaking for itself, that knowledge made me feel duty bound to report to you on whatever new cultural permutation of Johnny Loincloth I stumbled across. Which brings me to Dara, which is doomed -- despite its halfhearted attempts at subterfuge -- to become forever known among you as “Pakistani Tarzan”. (Just ask Turkish Star Wars, whose continued cries of "I have my own name, dammit!" continue to go unheeded.)
Sultan Rahi or, like every Pashto language Pakistani film I’ve reviewed, Badar Munir. Who it does star is Nasarullah Butt, a bodybuilder who served simultaneously as both Mr. Asia and Mr. Pakistan from 1954 to 1965 and who is here making his film debut.
other South Asian athlete turned action star, you could be forgiven. Indeed, Butt, besides being of a similar body type, shares with Indian stunt film king Dara Singh -- who, by the way, also played Tarzan -- the signature move of picking up his opponents and twirling them overhead before using them as human missiles. That is, of course, not to deny Butt his own claims to star quality. He is possessed of both brutal good looks and a winning smile and, while perhaps no Olivier, commands the screen with a certain brand of raw charisma.
If that is not a classic "Bitch, please" look that Dara is sporting, I don't know what is.
Zambos -- is how much they are really just Tarzan movies, with their specific cultural contexts providing very little in the way of detours from the usual formula. As an audience, this reduces us to less engaged spectators than detached observers, waiting in dull eyed resignation for the rolling out of the inevitable.
For starters, there is the standard roll call of boilerplate jungle perils (lions and bears and snakes, oh my!) and the stock footage used to realize them.
(Sorry, fans of quicksand and spiky pits; those two seem to have been either overlooked or ended up on the cutting room floor.)
And then there is the "lost" treasure, which, once found, drives those finding it into a googly eyed lather of cartoonish greed…
…from which skullduggery and backstabbing follows, delivering with them the simplistic rebuke to modernity and “so called” civilization (can we really say who the true savages are? CAN WE?) that we’ve all been waiting for.
Of course, along with the hoary, Dara also boasts those standard Tarzan elements that are every bit as welcome as they are predictable. There are, for instance, silly costumes, such as the Leopardman outfits worn by the evil princess’s guards.