Friday, February 4, 2011

The Film :-Stranglers of Bombay (1960)--The true story of William Sleeman's battle with the Thugee in Colonial India,AND STORY OF THUGS IN INDIA 1820-1860

Directed by anyone interesting? Terence Fisher - the director who helmed Hammer's breakout Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Colonial India, caravans of goods have been going missing on the roads between trading posts - Captain Harry Lewis of the East India company is convinced that these disappearances are related to the thousands of missing people across India reported each year. Despite having heavily researched the disappearances, the job of investigating them is given to the upper-class and far out of his element Captain Connaught-Smith who is completely ineffectual.

When Lewis' native manservant is killed, with his hand being sent back as a warning, he tries to warn the Company about the risks this group of killers pose but they ignore him - in indignation he resigns and sets out to track down these killers himself...

First time screenwriter David Zelag Goodman handles the writing credits for the film but his work is a rather mixed bag at best. Inspired by the novel The Deceivers which was based on
the true story of William Sleeman's battle with the Thugee in Colonial India, The Stranglers of Bombay takes a largely fictional approach to the whole topic despite the film's trailer heavily promoting it as a true story.
Directed by anyone interesting? Terence Fisher - the director who helmed Hammer's breakout Curse of Frankenstein (1957despite the film's trailer heavily promoting it as a true story. The idea behind the origins of the deadly scarves is the most clever creation, twisting the legend of Kali's mythological battle with the demonic Raktabija.

As a film in its own right characterisation is fair and the dialogue is particularly impressive, unusually realistic for the Hammer period films it helps to bring a good sense of authenticity to the whole production.


The modus operandi:-

The timing might be at night or during a rest-break, when the travelers would be busy with chores and when the background cries and noise would mask any sounds of alarm.

A quick and quiet method, which left no stains and required no special weapons, was strangulation. This method is particularly associated with Thuggee and led to the Thugs also being referred to as the Phansigars, or "noose-operators", and simply as "stranglers" by British troops. Usually two or three Thugs would strangle one traveller.

Civil servant William Henry Sleeman, superintendent, 'Thuggee and Dacoity Dept.' in 1835, and later its Commissioner in 1839.
People regarded as thugs might menace, commit assault, battery, robbery or even grievous bodily harm, but they usually stop short of murder. They work alone, in pairs, or in groups, and are typically open about their presence (except to law enforcement officials). The Indian "Thuggee" were covert and operated as members of a group, often called a "Thuggee cult" by the British.

                                              A group of Thugs, ca. 1863

  was to join a caravan and become accepted as bona-fide travelers themselves. The Thugs would need to delay any attack until their fellow travelers had dropped the initial wariness of the newcomers and had been lulled into a false sense of security, gaining their trust. Once the travelers had allowed the Thugs to join them and disperse amongst them - a task which might sometimes, depending on the size of the target group, require accompaniment for hundreds of miles - the Thugs would wait for a suitable place and time before killing and robbing them.

Thugs were active all over the Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent. Maps showing the possessions of the British East India Company in 1765 and 1805

No comments: