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Suggested by Dibyaduti Purkayastha (Tipu)
Original web page at

Sabu's Daughter Scripts The Second
Coming of 'Thief Of Bagdad'

Rediff - July 1999

By Arthur J Pais

[Sadly this project seems to have been put on permanent hold since the death of Jasmine Sabu in 2001. She is buried next to her father at Forest Lawn cemetary.]

Sabu in the film The Thief of Bagdad Nearly 60 years after Thief of Bagdad consolidated actor Sabu's reputation as one of the biggest movie stars across the globe, his daughter Jasmine hopes to see her long-cherished dream come true. She has sold a script for the movie, The Return of the Thief of Bagdad, which will star Chiranjeevi and will be shot in India next month.

Unlike the first Thief of Bagdad, which was directed by the distinguished Michael Powell and produced by the highly respected Alexander Korda and was hailed, among other things, for its technicolor visuals and stunts, the new film, being made on a modest budget of $ 3 million, is being directed by a relatively little known Douchan Gerci.

Thief of Bagdad was shot mostly in America as the war conditions made it difficult for Korda to shoot it in England, his adopted country. [According to most sources it was mainly shot in the UK on location & at Denham studio. It was just a few scenes that were shot in The Grand Canyon and at United Artists studios.]

Sabu, the child actor from The Elephant Boy (1937) was very much integral to the success of this version of the tale. As Powell writes in his autobiography, A Life In Movies: 'It was because the leading part was played by such a wonderful, graceful, frank, intelligent child, that the film delighted audiences around the world. Magical tricks and color and vivid spectacle help to make fantasy work, but it is the human beings in the fantasy who make it immortal.'

This is the film that also finally begot Korda his belated fame and fortune as a producer in the US, and Powell his reputation as one of Britain's finest directors. [Most people consider it was The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) that made Korda's reputation in the States - it was Oscar nominated as best picture & Laughton won best actor. Powell was only one of 3 credited (and 3 uncredited) directors on ToB so it didn't get him noticed that much in the States.]

Jasmine, who breeds horses used in many Hollywood films including The Godfather, [Only the live ones I hope <G>] is Sabu's only daughter; her brother Paul is a musician.

Sabu, who was discovered by Korda in Mysore while he was riding an elephant, became an international star with Elephant Boy and acted in many British and Hollywood hits including The Jungle Book (1942) and Song of India (1949). [He was "discovered" by Flaherty, the director of Elephant Boy. OK, when Korda saw him he got Flaherty to make it more dramatic than his usual documentary style films.]

In the late 1940s and 1950s, he was among the richest stars in Hollywood. In an era in which white actors often played Asian characters, Sabu was respected not only for his physique but also for his natural acting abilities. He was a friend to many Hollywood actors including James Stewart and Ronald Reagan.

His fortunes declined in the 1960s. He lost money in business deals. And though his films remained perennial hits on television, to many in the younger generation they represented a defense of imperialism and the complaint that they were full of inane and exotic images increased with each passing year.

Sabu, who acted in A Tiger Walks in 1964, the year he died, was reduced to performing in a circus in the early 1960s but the Mysore-born actor wanted to go back to India to shoot a sequel to Thief of Bagdad. Sabu was just 40 when he died; his widow Marilyn never married again. "When you were married to someone so special like Sabu, how could you think of sharing life with another man?" she said in an interview a few years ago.

Sabu "My father was slowly emerging from the shadows, he was even talking to Walt Disney to set up a Disney Land in India but he died following a heart attack when he was in the middle of taking charge of his career again," Jasmine Sabu said.

The script she has written would not have stereotyped images of Arabs and the minorities, she said. She hopes the film will lead to renewed interest in her father's life and achievements.

"His own life had so much of drama, I wish I could make a film about him," she says.

Sabu's movies:
A Tiger Walks (1964)
Rampage (1963)
Mistress of the World (1960) - aka Herrin der Welt - Teil I
Sabu and The Magic Ring (1957)
Jungle Hell (1956)
Jaguar (1956)
Bagdhad (1954)
The Treasure of Bengal (1954) - aka Il Tesoro del Bengala
The Black Panther (1953)
Pardon My Trunk (1952) - aka Buongiorno, elefante!
Savage Drums (1951)
Song of India (1949)
Man-Eater of Kumaon (1948)
Black Narcissus (1947)
The End of the River (1947)
Tangier (1946)
Cobra Woman (1944)
White Savage (1943)
The Jungle Book (1942)
Arabian Nights (1942)
Thief of Bagdad (1940)
Drums (1938)
The Drum (1938)
Elephant Boy (1937)

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