Hindi musical actioner is reminiscent of the costume adventure films made in Italy during the early 1960s, sometimes adapted from Salgari novels and often starring Guy Madison. This one takes place in Yakistan, apparently somewhere beyond the Khyber Pass, in a non-specific 19th century context. Evil King Shahbaaz (I hope the scenery was digestible) is countered by popular outlaw Kabli Khan (Ajit), who helps a neighboring kingdom, next on the hit list for the Axis of Evil, to fight off the tyrant. There are rollicking rogues, a bit of swordplay on the stairs, some shootouts, some singing, and some dancing, the latter mostly by peachy tavern entertainer Haseena (Helen).
Indian movie babe Helen gets a lead dramatic role here, not just an item appearance, and looks super-cute in a sepoy uniform (I might even have re-upped in the 77th Bengal Lancers if she'd been one of my messmates). It's a bit brisk for a Hindi film, at only 2 hours, and there is a little more indoor sound stage filming than I would have preferred, which gives it much the feel of a Bonanza episode from the 60s.
Film carries a 1974 censor certificate, though my guess is that it was made a decade earlier and that this cert is from a reissue. Glancing up the page I see that IMDb shows it as a 1963 film. DVD, the only place you'll see this one today, is tolerable quality except for a tendency to go briefly bright orange at scene changes, and for slight cropping, from 1.66 to 1.33. Even the songs are subtitled. The synopsis on the box stresses a patriotic theme that I really don't get from the actual story.
Overall, KABLI KHAN is a swashbuckler with some comedy and music -- not Errol Flynn, not even Guy Madison, more like "The Desert Song" -- but OK enough, especially if you can find the DVD for $1.99, as I did.
No classic, but I enjoyed it for its 2-hour run. On the IMDb scale, 5/10.
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