Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Sandokan

A sketchy little piece on a long-forgotten pirate hero for Tuesday's Overlooked Films, Audio & Video at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom.

Sandokan on the cover
of ‘Tigers of Mompracem’

© Wikimedia Commons
The purpose of this post is only to cast the spotlight on Sandokan, the notoriously famous pirate whose adventures have graced everything, from books and films to television and animated series, and even a documentary on the making of a mini series.

I have not read any of the adventures of the late 19th century fictional pirate first introduced in 1883 by Italian author Emilio Salgari. He has been a hero in nearly a dozen novels. Besides Sandokan, he was also known as ‘The Tiger of Malaysia’. 

According to Wikipedia, “Emilio Salgari wrote several novels chronicling the adventures of Sandokan and Yanez, two of his most legendary creations. The pirates are introduced in The Tigers of Mompracem, which portrays their relentless struggle against the Dutch and British powers that seek to wipe them out. In subsequent novels they battle against James Brooke, the Raja of Sarawak and also travel to India to measure themselves against the Thugs, a notorious band of stranglers devoted to the goddess Kali.”

I first came to know of Sandokan in the early eighties when India’s state-run television, Doordarshan (Far Vision) broadcast a six-part mini series (1976) starring popular Indian actor Kabir Bedi who played the bearded pirate. It was either shown in English or dubbed in Hindi, I'm not sure. The series was a big hit, I suspect, on account of Bedi’s charisma. It was directed by Sergio Sollima who also cast Bedi in an Italian film called La tigre è ancora viva: Sandokan alla riscossa! (‘The Tiger Lives Again: Sandokan to the Rescue!’) in 1977. I don't remember if the film was shown on our television. There were other Sandokan films prior to this one, though, mostly in Italian, I think.

The only thing I remember about the television series is Kabir Bedi’s 6'2" turbaned appearance. It made him and Sandokan a household name overnight and paved the way for several international ventures in Hollywood and elsewhere.

14 comments:

  1. Entirely new to me. But Johnny Depp seems to have copied his look.

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    1. Patti, I never thought of that. Depp might be the one to star in a remake.

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  2. We used to love Kabir Bedi - he was such a superstar in Italy in the 70s and we thought the TV show was the best ever - in fact, I even named my first cat Sandikan! Great memories - thanks Prashant.

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    1. Sergio, you're welcome. it's interesting that Bedi was a "superstar" in Italy. I didn't know he was popular in Europe. In India, he was popular among women.

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  3. Prashant, I've never heard of him - I'm obviously fat too young!

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    1. Col, Bedi has had a long and successful career in Bollywood and in international cinema.

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  4. This certainly never made it onto my radar - maybe the different versions didn't reach the UK. But Kabir Bedi certainly seems to be one good-looking chap , which always helps a TV series.

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    1. Moira, Bedi has been known for his looks and personality as well as his baritone voice.

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  5. I had heard of Sandokan...and might even have seen a piece of one film or another...but I don't think I've read his adventures or seen a whole film.

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    1. Todd, I'm not sure I have seen the film starring Kabir Bedi but I remember seeing him in the television series. Everyone talked about it at the time.

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  6. A new one to me, seems you caught most of us by surprise with this one. Looks interesting and I like the cover with the tiger.

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    1. Richard, thank you. There is more than one interesting cover of the books and films. You might be able to watch the SANDOKAN series on YouTube.

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  7. That is a very good looking pirate, Prashant. Sounds like a fun series.

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    1. Well, Tracy, Bedi has been considered good looking all his life. He is also a fine actor.

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