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Volume 6734

Unauthorized Tarzan Films
ROCKET TARZAN
By
Robert Allen Lupton

This unauthorized Tarzan film, has been difficult to research. I have not seen this film. I have not seen a trailer of the film. I can’t find them anywhere. There are three songs from the film on YouTube, but they are audio only. I found a couple short summaries and have combined them to provide the follow limited information.

This is extremely disappointing because the poster is magnificent. I have included it twice in this article, the second time alongside the poster for Forbidden Planet. A Professor Anil has built laboratory in the deepest part of the jungle. A whimsical king, played by the comic actor, Polson, arrives at the laboratory along with his queen. He wants to go to the moon. His neck is bent and crooked, but the professor cures the kind. The king is so pleased that he funds the Professor’s experiment – to build a rocket to the moon. The king’s greedy advisor, the evil Niranjan, conspires to destroy the Professor’s plans. He imprisons Professor Anil’s daughter, Mala, and holds her hostage. He demands the rocket for the girl. Tarzan stops this foolishness and saves Mala. Of course, Tarzan and Mala fall in love with each other.

The Routledge Handbook of Hindi Cinemas says, “The Hindi film Rocket Tarzan (B. J. Patel 1963) was set in Arcadian lunar landscapes and involved a robotic humanoid that terrorized human beings.”

People Films is the production company, the producer is Dhanpatrai, B. J. Patel directed, and Robin Banerjee wrote the music. The cast includes, Indrajeet, Shanti, Rajen Kapoor, Nilofer, Babu Raje, Polson, Shri Bhagwan, Dalpat, Sunanda, S.K. Sham, Shakila Banu Bhopali, Vishwa Mehra. I found conflicting information on who played Tarzan in the film. Indrajeet, Azad, and Dara Singh, among others. Close inspection of the five movie stills convince me that Azad and Singh were not in the movie. I have not been able to find any information on Indrajeet. Several more recent Bollywood actors and a movie with a similar title have inundated the internet to the point that a search for him is virtually impossible. Dalpat Singh is listed as playing the lead on cinestaan.com, but I can’t find any evidence to verify that. IMBd.com gives a detailed filmography, but doesn’t list him as being in Rocket Tarzan. The site, muvyz.com, lists Rocket Tarzan in his filmography.

Notice that both posters even have ringed planets. Forbidden Planet was made in 1956 and Rocket Tarzan in 1963.

Shri B. J. Patel, directed the film and at the Western India Producers’ Association (WIFPA) 31st annual meeting on April 16, 1999, he was unanimously elected for the post of President of Western India Producers’ Association by the newly constituted Executive Committee. The veteran Film Producer-director, Patel’s style of speaking mannerisms and his method of making creative Films, speaks volumes for his ‘offbeat’ nature. His slogan is worth remembering “the producer must survive” and with this laudable motto he also helped many small and regional Film producers in completing their films. His confidence in himself and the detailed planning and personal supervision were the secrets of his success. He retired to Australia with his family. He received WIFPA’s prestigious J. P. Tiwari Award for his devoted services to his association, on December 10, 2003.
Rajan Kapoor, actor, director, and producer was involved with 186 films. The earliest was Inquilab in 1935 and the last was Ram Teri Ganga Maili in 1985 (per Cinestaan). Ranbir Raj Kapoor, (December 14, 1924 –June 2, 1988), known as "the greatest showman of Indian cinema". Kapoor is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers and actors in the history of Indian cinema. He was the winner of several awards including 3 National Film Awards and 11 Filmfare Awards in India. The Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award is named after Raj Kapoor. He was a two-time nominee for the Palme d'Or grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his films Awaara (1951) and Boot Polish (1954). His performance in Awaara was ranked as one of the top ten greatest performances of all time by Time magazine. His films attracted worldwide audiences, particularly in Asia and Europe. He was called the Clark Gable of the Indian film industry.

The Government of India honored him with the Padma Bhushan in 1971 for his contributions to the arts. India's highest award in cinema the Dadasaheb Phalke Award was bestowed him in 1987 by the Government of India. The Padma Bhushan is the third-highest civilian award in the Republic of India, preceded by the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Vibhushan and followed by the Padma Shri. The award is given for "distinguished service of a high order...without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex." The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is India's highest award in cinema. It is presented annually at the National Film Awards ceremony by the Directorate of Film Festivals.

Shakeela Bano Bhopali appeared in many films and used several names, among them, Shakil Banu Bhopali, Shakila Banoo Bhopali, Shakila Bano Bhopali, Shakila Banu Bhopali, Shakilabono Bhopali, and Shakilarano Bhopali.  She plays Mala, Tarzan’s love interest in this film.

Shakeela became famous in Bhopal at a very young age. She joined the Variety Theatre and played lead roles. Later, when she became a big name in Bhopal, her mother learned to play the harmonium (A pump organ, reed organ, harmonium, or melodeon is a type of free-reed organ that generates sound as air flows past a vibrating piece of thin metal in a frame.) in order to accompany her. One night, while B. R. Chopra was filming NAYA DAUR near Bhopal with Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanti Mala, and Johnny Walker, and the shoot had to be cancelled because of heavy rain. Someone suggested Bhopali’s name to Chopra who invited her to perform a qawwali mehfil. Mehfil is an evening of courtly entertainment poetry or concert of Indian classical music and Pakistani classical music, particularly Hindustani classical music, and dance, performed for a small audience in an intimate setting. Qawwali is a form of Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia: in the Punjab and Sindh regions of Pakistan; in Hyderabad, Delhi and other parts of India, especially North India; as well as Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet divisions of Bangladesh. It is part of a musical tradition that stretches back for more than 700 years. Bhopali, then barely in her teens, mesmerized the audience.

Encouraged by the film stars, Shakeela Bano moved to Mumbai (Bombay), with her parents, sister, and brothers. For many years, producers would add a song by Shakeela to poor performing films and re-release them. “One song by Shakeela could carry a bad movie,” remembers Babubhai, Bhopali’s assistant for 25 years.

“It is difficult for old timers to forget Shakeela. She had both the looks and the voice. Everyone from the Nawab (Nawab also spelt Nawaab, Navaab, Navab, Nowab, Nabob or Nobab, was an honorific title ratified and bestowed by the reigning Mughal emperor to semi-autonomous Muslim rulers of princely states in South Asia. "Nawab" usually refers to males and literally means Viceroy; the female equivalent is "Begum" or "Nawab Begum") to the tongawallah (carriage drivers) loved her performances.” recalled 75-year-old K. Khan, an avid fan of Shakeela from Bhopal.

Shakeela refused to record most of her music. “My talent lies in my followers and not in my voice.” She always performed solo. Her most important contribution was in transforming qawwali from local private entertainments to a lavish affairs with a grand backdrop, musical orchestra and a lot of action and dance.

She was in Bhopal in December, 1984 to attend a wedding. It was very late at night and most family members had already turned in. Suddenly there was noise outside. “Run, there is poison in the air’ people shouted. Hordes of people ran in the streets, covered their faces, shouted, pushed,and fought each other. Shakeela’s family tried to escape from the house. Shakeela organized most of the family members. She never considered fleeing on her own. “We all live together, we all will die together”. Zarina, Shakeela’s younger sister, reported Shakeela, who was 42 years old at the time, and 14 others fled the house on foot and joined the surging mass of people below. “People did not even know what they were running from, there was so much hysteria. Some people claimed Bhopal was on fire. We did not know then that it would have been better to shut the windows and stay in the house with a blanket covering our faces. People who were inside their homes did not suffer as much.” The family walked for hours at night, finally stopping when they thought they were far enough away to be safe.

She continued, “We returned to a ghost town in the morning. Shakeela suffered acute respiratory problems and she became asthmatic. She also developed eye problems after the leak, which became aggravated after she developed diabetes. I remember she was unable to go through a full performance in Mumbai some months after the gas leak.” Her respiratory problems stopped to her live performances.”

  Bhopal-based Satinath Sarangi, managing trustee of Sambhavna Trust Clinic, which provided medical care to the survivors of the disaster, “Singers in Bhopal who were exposed to the gas were directly affected by the leak. Not only singers, but all people who depended on their voice for a living were affected. Even many muezzins (Muslim priests who call the faithful to prayer) lost their jobs.”

Shakeela had once said in an interview that she was a business and 20 people’s livelihood depended on her singing. With the business was closed, the employees were out of work.

Shakeela Bano was forgotten by the country during her hard times. She was bed-ridden with a tape recorder, a paanbatti (betel container) and a small box full of vials and tablets for company in her small cubicle at St George Hospital. Bhopali spent months in different hospitals – Shastri Hospital, Mahavir Nursing Home, Holy Family Hospital and finally St George Hospital. Her family sold their jewelry, television set, and refrigerator to pay for her treatments.

Despite repeated appeals for help, the government didn’t help her. “Once, we personally handed over a letter to MP chief minister, Digvijay Singh, who promised to inquire about Shakeela’s health. Nothing happened. A few individuals in the film industry contributed money, but not enough to meet the cost of medicine,” complained Yunus Mohammed Khan, Bhopali’s adopted son.

“I performed to raise funds for the army’s welfare, cancer patients, war widows and destitute children. What have I got in return for all the services I did for my country?” Shakeela said. “God gave me a lot of fame, respect, and money. I am happy that I lived the way I wanted to. My only regret is I have to sit idle now. I have many offers from television and films, but I can’t work. I just want to get well and resume my work”.

Shakeela Bano Bhopali never recovered from the effects of the gas. The legendary singer, who transformed the face of qawaali with her flamboyant and uninhibited singing style, died on December 16, 2002 at the St. George Hospital after a massive cardiac attack at the age of 60. A sad empty end for a famous performer.

The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. It was considered as of 2010 to be the world's worst industrial disaster.

Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate  gas. The highly toxic substance inundated the  towns located near the plant.

Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259. The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. A government affidavit in 2006 stated that the leak caused 558,125 injuries, including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries. Others estimate that 8,000 died within two weeks, and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases.

Polson (sometimes Paulson) was a Hindi comic actor and sources report that he appeared in 140 films. The most extensive filmography lists 33 films. He was a master at lip-syncing songs and was listed with the stars on movie advertisements even when he had a very limited role in a film. In Rocket Tarzan, he played the king who wanted to go to the moon. Very little detail is available about Polson. I found nothing about his personal life. The only three photographs I could located are reproduced herein. He is on the right in the group picture.


Mumtaz Shanti was an actress of the black and white era of Hindi cinema. All evidence that I can locate indicate that is the “Shanti” credited in this film. She acted with actors like Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar, and Thilak Kapoor and had appeared in films like Kismet (1943), Basant (1942) and Badati Duniya (1943). She is regarded as one of the biggest stars of Hindi cinema in the 1940s. Initially, she started her career in the thirties in Lahore where she worked in local theaters. She got her first break in a Punjabi film ‘Mangit’ and was lured to land up in Bombay. She made her debut in a film ‘Basant’ of Amiya Chakravarty.

In the mid-fifties, she migrated to Pakistan along with her writer-director husband, Wali-Saheb. Their son Zafar Iqbal is a noted maker of documentaries, who used to work as a producer in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan. She also left to Pakistan like actress Suraiya and never made her comeback. But she is known for her film ‘Kismet’ which was the biggest blockbuster in Indian cinema. The film ran for three years in a Calcutta theater and set a record in those days Mumtaz Shanti was a perfect actress who could deliver dialogues of hopefulness in slow, gusty and breathy tones. Her moist-eyed always brought soft focus on tragic roles. She had her own style in acting, which had its time and own place.

Raja Babu was an Indian film actor, comedian and producer known for his works predominantly in Telugu cinema. Touted to be one of the finest Indian comedians, He was born in Rajamundry, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh to Punyamurthula Umamaheswara Rao and Ramanamma as Appala Raju. His brothers are noted comedians, Chitti Babu Punyamurthula and Ananth Babu. He was a certified school teacher and worked for years as a Telugu teacher. During that period, he acted in dramas like Kukka Pilla Dorikindi, Naalugilla Chaavadi and Alluri Sitarama Raju.

Garikapati Raja Rao invited Babu after seeing his acting skills in the dramas. Film Director Addala Narayana Rao gave him a chance to act in his film Samajam in 1960. Babu was known for his slapstick comedy roles. He acted in record 589 movies in less than 20 years.

He acted a hero in Tata Manavadu, Pichodi Pelli, Thirupathi, Evariki Vare Yamuna Teere, Manishi Rodduna Paddadu. Leela Rani, Prasanna Rani, Gitanjali and Rama Prabha played with him as his female counterparts. He portrayed the lead role of Giri, grandson (Manavadu) in the film Tata Manavadu directed by Dasari Narayana Rao.
He produced a few films as Bob and Bob Productions, including Evariki Vaare Yamuna Teeru and Manishi Rodduna Paddadu.

Raja Babu married Lakshmi Ammalu in 1965 and they had two children: Nagendra Babu and Mahesh Babu. He has two brothers, Chitti Babu and Ananth Babu , who are film actors and television artists. Raja Babu died of cancer in 1983. Friends report that he drank heavily the last few years of his life.


 


MORE ROBERT ALLEN LUPTON FEATURES IN ERBzine
UNAUTHORIZED TARZAN FILMS
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