Gunga Din (1892) is one of the most famous poems by Rudyard Kipling. Perhaps best known is its often-quoted last line, "You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" The poem is a rhyming narrative from the point of view of a British soldier, about a native water-bearer who saves his life. Like several other Kipling poems, it celebrates the virtues of a non-European while portraying (and implicitly challenging) an infantryman's view of such people as being of a "lower order".

Gunga DinEdit

You may talk o' gin an' beer
When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
But if it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,       5
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.
Now in Injia's sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them black-faced crew        10
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.
    It was "Din! Din! Din!
    You limping lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!
    Hi! slippy hitherao!       15
    Water, get it! Panee lao!
    You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din!"
The uniform 'e wore
Was nothin' much before,
An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,      20
For a twisty piece o' rag
An' a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment 'e could find.
When the sweatin' troop-train lay
In a sidin' through the day,        25
Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,
We shouted "Harry By!"
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.
    It was "Din! Din! Din!       30
    You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?
    You put some juldee in it,
    Or I'll marrow you this minute,
    If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"
'E would dot an' carry one      35
Till the longest day was done,
An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin' nut,
'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.      40
With 'is mussick on 'is back,
'E would skip with our attack,
An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire."
An' for all 'is dirty 'ide,
'E was white, clear white, inside       45
When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!
    It was "Din! Din! Din!"
    With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.
    When the cartridges ran out,
    You could 'ear the front-files shout:      50
    "Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"
I sha'n't forgit the night
When I dropped be'ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been.
I was chokin' mad with thirst,        55
An' the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.
'E lifted up my 'ead,
An' 'e plugged me where I bled,
An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water-green;        60
It was crawlin' an' it stunk,
But of all the drinks I've drunk,
I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
    It was "Din! Din! Din!
    'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;       65
    'E's chawin' up the ground an' 'e's kickin' all around:
    For Gawd's sake, git the water, Gunga Din!"
'E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.      70
'E put me safe inside,
An' just before 'e died:
"I 'ope you liked your drink," sez Gunga Din.
So I'll meet 'im later on
In the place where 'e is gone -       75
Where it's always double drill and no canteen;
'E'll be squattin' on the coals
Givin' drink to pore damned souls,
An' I'll get a swig in Hell from Gunga Din!
    Din! Din! Din!      80
    You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
    Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you,
    By the livin' Gawd that made you,
    You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

Rudyard Kipling

The film Edit

Template:Infobox Film The poem inspired a 1939 swashbuckler film about three British sergeants and their native water bearer who fight the Thuggee, a religious cult of ritualistic stranglers in colonial India. It stars Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joan Fontaine, and Sam Jaffe in the title role. Originally, Grant and Fairbanks were assigned each other's role, Grant the one who was leaving the army to marry Joan Fontaine, Fairbanks the happy-go-lucky treasure hunter. Grant wanted to switch; the producers relented and the actors were more appropriately recast.

After much spirited derring-do, all four of the main characters are captured by the Thuggees and forced to watch as an ambush is prepared for their regiment. Gunga Din manages to free himself, sound the alarm using a bugle he has handy, and die heroically.

The movie was written by Joel Sayre and Fred Guiol from a storyline by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, with uncredited contributions by Lester Cohen, John Colton, William Faulkner, Vincent Lawrence, Dudley Nichols and Anthony Veiller. It was directed by George Stevens. Filming began on June 24, 1938 and was completed on October 19, 1938. The film premiered in Los Angeles on January 24, 1939.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White. In 1999 the film was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

The movie includes a sequence at the end in which a fictionalised Rudyard Kipling, played by Reginald Sheffield, hears of the events and is inspired to write his poem (the scene in which the poem is first read out carefully quotes only those parts of the poem that tally with the events of the movie). Following objections from Kipling's family, the character was excised from some prints of the movie.

Influence Edit

The film version was re-told (perhaps "parodied" would be a better word) in a 1962 tongue-in-cheek version reset in the American West and starring all of the members of the Rat Pack, entitled Sergeants Three, with Frank Sinatra in the McLaglen role, Dean Martin in the Grant role, Peter Lawford in the Fairbanks role, and Sammy Davis, Jr. in the Jaffe role.

"Gunga Din" is also the title of an apparently unrelated 1969 song by The Byrds, written by Gene Parsons.

Bob Dylan references "Gunga Din" in his song, "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere"

The Gunga Din Highway is also a novel by Frank Chin, the polemical Chinese-American playwright and fiction writer who deals with themes of "authentic" Asian-American identity.

Gunga Din remains the favorite film of novelist and screenwriter William Goldman; his first novel, The Temple of Gold, is named after the location of the film's climax.

Many of the events and scenes from the second Indiana Jones film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom are taken from Gunga Din, including casting an almost exact lookalike as the Thuggee leader.

The film is referenced by two Peter Sellers films. In The Party, Sellers plays an Indian actor in the role of Gunga Din, and a parody of the film's climax has Sellers blowing his bugle to warn the British Army to such annoying effect, that his own troops start shooting at him; in Revenge of the Pink Panther, the mad genius Dreyfus quotes the priest's speech about mad military geniuses.

During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, journalist Dan Rather followed mujahdeen fighters dressed in local clothing, gaining him the nickname Gunga Dan.

Trivia Edit

  • The California Sierra doubled at the Khyber Pass for the story. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. reported in a featurette interview on the DVD release that in his travels, he has met several Indians who were convinced the external scenes were filmed on location in Northwest India at the actual Khyber Pass.
  • The original script was composed largely of interiors and detailed life in the barracks. The decision was made to make the story a much larger adventure tale but the re-write process dragged on into principal shooting. Some of the incidental scenes that flesh out the story were filmed while the hundreds of extras were in the background being marshalled for larger takes.

External links Edit


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