Retro-watch: The Hindi film that thought of Google Glass before Google

Deepanjana Pal

June 27, 2013 13:31:15 IST

The first manned mission landed on the moon in 1969, but two years before Neil Armstrong took that giant leap for mankind, Astronaut Anand and desi cinema had gone much further. TP Sundaram's Trip to Moon (Chand Par Chadayee) was a science fiction story set mainly in space. Made in 1967, the film starred Dara Singh, Anwar Hussain, Bhagwan, G. Ratna and Padma Khanna. Dara Singh was Astronaut Anand, who with his sidekick Bhagu (Bhagwan), travels to different planets and beats up aliens, a galactic rhinoceros and becomes a heartthrob of the lovely ladies who live on the moon. Yes, there's life on the moon according to Trip to Moon, and not just that, two of them go so far as to fight for him in a contest that involves both dancing and sword fighting.

There's a lot to love in Trip to Moon, beginning with the film's confidence in India's space program. Trip to Moon begins on the moon, where India has set up a "camp". It's a mission to explore and learn, but the Moonlings are suspicious of these human scientists, who roam around the satellite puffing a pipe and brandishing a walking stick, unaffected by low gravity. So, as a warning, the Moonlings kidnap the scientist and send a crack team to sabotage the next Indian mission to the moon, which is Astronaut Anand's ticket off the planet.

A still from the film.

A still from the film.

The first time we meet Anand, he walks into a high-level security meeting discussing the kidnap wearing a space suit made up of tubes, a bubble helmet, a shiny top and tights. As astronauts are wont to. Later, when Anand, accompanied by Bhagu, goes to the launch site, ready to go into space, he's wearing a suit and a fedora. This is not the oddest part; that would be the site of a bunch of aliens trying to lift the rocket like it's a double bed and the aliens are movers. A fight ensues and its main point seems to be to render Anand shirtless and strip Bhagwan down to his chaddis. Once this is achieved, the duo are also kidnapped.

Once on the moon (and after a delightful attempt to show the lunar surface's low gravity by doing a slow-mo dance), Anand and Bhagu are imprisoned by a council that seems to include a lunar Adolf Hitler. When they try to escape, they are sentenced to death. By this time, we've seen vitamin pills and a lot of flashing lights that are supposed to communicate how technologically advanced the moon's civilisation is. Executions, however, are conducted ancient Roman style, in an arena where Anand and Bhagu must face an ape who looks like he's torn his hair out because he wasn't cast as King Kong. Anand defeats the ape and instead of finding another method of executing the earthlings, Anand and Bhagu become VIPs because the ladies luuurve Anand.

Meanwhile, there's conspiracy afoot. A moonling aristocrat named Simi (Padma Khanna) is scheming with the king of Mars (Anwar Hussain), who wants the moon's princess Shimoga (G. Ratna) as his bride. Shimoga's heart, however, belongs to Anand and he loves her too. So the king of Mars doesn't really stand a chance, but he gives it his best shot by doing everything from unleashing missiles to giant robots and an alien rhinoceros at Anand.

The real genius of Trip to Moon is in the scenes where Simi and the king of Mars are seen secretly plotting. Keep in mind that this film was released in 1967, when the height of technological advancement in India was the trunk call and the television. Yet it didn't stop the writer of Trip to Moon (who is sadly uncredited. The credits only acknowledge the dialogue writer) from imagining the digital camera, scanning, email and modern printers. When Simi spies on Anand being romanced by Shimoga, she pulls out a dinky little camera to click a suggestive photo. The photo is then delivered to the king of Mars instantly. His assistant pulls it out of a box-like contraption.

At another point, Simi dials a code and the King of Mars appears on a television screen so that the two can chat. That is, she Skypes him. Most impressively, Trip to Moon pre-empted Google Glass. When Simi wants to talk to the king of Mars urgently, she calls him and he receives the call in a pair of dark glasses. A live image of Simi appears on one of the lenses and they chat in real time. So there you have it: a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. And we thought of it in 1967, before Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin were born.

Watch the movie here:

Updated Date: Jun 27, 2013 14:35 PM