Nache Nagin Gali Gali

nache nagin gali gali VCD cover

I’m surprised there isn’t more written about Mohanji Prasad’s Nache Nagin Gali Gali. It’s a late 80s B movie, sure, but it stars Meenakshi Seshadri  and is full of dancing and snakey masala plot twists. I was lucky enough to watch this with the virtual company of two most excellent friendly bloggers and snake film fanciers, Beth and Liz and with access to the helpful Filmi Snake Spotter’s Field Guide.

Nache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-Meenakshi

Mohini (Meenakshi) and Nagesh (Nitish Bharadwaj) are Icchadhaari Nagin; snakes who can transform into human shape. A magician (Sadashiv Amrapurkar) wants to steal Nagesh’s naag mani so he can enter a magical realm and find a cure for his leprosy.

Nache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-cursed(He has a curse laid upon him by a grieving mother, the fiery Suhas Joshi, as payback for killing her son.) He could have asked his guru (Satyendra Kapoor) for help except he had him trapped in a giant bird cage and stole his power. He interrupts Mohini and Nagesh on their full moon night of love and they transform into children, hoping to hide in the crowd at a nearby fair.

Nache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-little MohiniNache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-Duplicates

In all the confusion the children are separated. Nagesh is mistaken for Kamal, a landlord’s son who he saved from being sacrificed by ‘tribal’ people, and taken home despite his denials. Kamal is taken by the sorcerer who thinks he has captured the snake. His wife Subhadra pleads to keep the boy and raise him as their son, which Kamal takes to easily thanks to some filmi amnesia. And poor distraught Mohini is rescued by kindly gypsies and raised as their own. Time passes, and the magician is running out of time to find a cure. Kamal/Nagesh takes a vow not to leave Kamal’s ma as she becomes dangerously ill when stressed so he is stuck, waiting for a solution but not doing much to find one. Nagesh and Mohini find each other, Kamal and the baddies find them, and things rattle along to the exciting final confrontation.

I really like Meenakshi as Mohini, but was even more impressed that this is a film where the entire climax sequence happens without the purported hero. Mohini and the good guru take on the evil tantric to try and prevent him from gaining more power and overcoming his creeping rot.

There are loads of special effects and there is a fairytale feel to the battle between good and evil that contrasts nicely with a quite earthy romance. I was saddened by the use of animals in some scenes, but there is only one incident where I thought there was a genuine prospect of injury or death (a snake versus mongoose battle). For the most the death and destruction is stylised so the drama plays out as engaging and a bit exciting without being at all realistic.

Meenakshi is lovely despite the hair and wardrobe choices in most scenes.

My only explanation for the backward bustle or peplum on the white dress was that perhaps it was really an egg pouch. I know if I was a self willed married lady snake I would not want to be bothering with 40 weeks of gestation plus labour. Her Mohini is heartbroken and wants to find Nagesh more than anything. But she also forms a strong loving relationship with her adopted family, and retains her sense of self-worth.

Nache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-RomeoNache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-never mess with a snakeThere are some unfortunate comedy incidents, but I quite liked seeing a creepy Romeo terrorised by the pretty snake lady.

Nache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-The Look stage 2 with lensesNache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-Mohini attacksMohini dance-fights her way through the final encounter and Meenakshi shows both the disadvantage of a small woman trying to beat a man in a physical fight and the power of her will and determination to be victorious. Her posture and energy changes to show the gradual loss of strength and the corresponding increase in desperation.

Nitish Bharadwaj plays adult Nagesh and Kamal. I have to say, apart from his mullet and some interesting outfits in songs, he made little impression. The highlight of his performance is probably his comic aversion to Roop, the girl his parents want him to marry. There is a brilliant meta moment when Roop makes Nagesh/Kamal watch her dance against the background of Sri Devi in Nagin. Roop does a terribly cheesy and not at all alluring ‘snake dance’ as Nagesh is captivated by the music, leading to his, ahem, premature transformation. I love that even in that silly scene, there is room for more plot development and film references. Nitish is adequate without being particularly good or bad.  Since his characters main contribution to the plot is just to be who they are, it all works out.

Nache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-romantic readingNache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-the chase

 

Was that book some kind of compulsory family reading? There are stacks of copies in the house. Perplexing.

Nache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-in chargeNache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-new interior designSadashiv Amrapurkar throws himself into the villainous role with gusto. He goes from ashram to megalomaniacal dictator décor in a heartbeat and seems content with being bad. If only he could get rid of that pesky leprosy! He spends much of the film trudging up hill and down dale, looking for the snake with the naag mani.

Nache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-Satyendra KapoorSatyendra Kapoor is stately and saintly in his flowing wig. He is like the voice of your conscience that never quiet goes silent. A lot of his role is done by voice over as the parrot got the most screen time. The final duel between guru and wayward disciple is something else as they transform into a series of animals with rich inner monologues.

Nache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-sporty bridal wearNache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-Sahila ChaddhaSahila Chaddha is Roop, but you could also call her Sporty Bridal Wear Lady or WTF Is She Wearing Lady. She is bubbly and determined to get her man.

I enjoyed her antics as she tried to anticipate his objections and overcome them, usually through multiple costume changes and a dance. Kamal’s mother enjoyed watching her son’s discomfort and encouraged Roop too. I never felt sorry for Roop as Kamal/Nagesh was so obviously not keen and yet she persisted. Plus she was needlessly vindictive and nearly got Mohini killed. Not cool Roop.

The songs (by Kalyanji-Anandji) are colourful and mostly uptempo. They didn’t have a huge budget for sets but they did get a good bulk deal on sequins so there is lots of sparkle.

Meenakshi does most of the dancing as Nitish Jeetendras his way around the set. He did do some slithering which was kind of interesting if not strictly speaking good. Or to quote Beth “Kya slither hai!” Both the hero and heroine were submerged in the water feature so were each subjected to the lingering clingy clothing shots. Considering snake attire, the subject matter, and the era, this film largely eschews sleaze.

Nache-Nagin-Gali-Gali-Reunited

There was some conversation about a certain “pajamas – now you see them now you don’t” scene, but these are married snakes of legal age so it is really no one business but their own.

If you want an entertaining film tinged with fantasy and magic, with baddies you can really dislike and goodies that are mostly likeable and right, packed with songs and visual effects, this would be an excellent choice. It is now available on YouTube with subtitles so why wait? 4 stars!

Devi (1999)

devi-DVD-cover

Devi offers a giddy blend of religious and folkloric elements in a story that is ultimately all about faith and honour. Directed by Kodi Ramakrishna, the special effects look a treat and the heroine Prema is wonderfully entertaining.

Some technical notes. The Telugu film was released in 1999 and is available without subtitles on DVD and on Youtube. There is a 2001 Hindi dub released as Goddess that is available with subtitles. I’ve taken my screencaps from Youtube as my DVD is out on loan so the picture quality is not as good as it should be. If you can’t locate a subtitled copy, Liz’s excellent review is very helpful to cover off the relationships and plot points.

Devi-Spaceship

Did I mention space ships?

Devi-snakes 1Devi-snake maidens

Devi and her snake handmaidens arrive on earth to look at some wildlife. Unfortunately they neglected to consult the appropriate almanac and so their trip coincided with an eclipse, an event that rendered Devi back into her comparatively helpless cobra form for the duration.

Devi-Devi and fire demon

A very nasty demon (Abu Salim) took the chance to adopt a fiery form and attack her, but she was saved by a kindly human who lost his life in the encounter. Being an honourable girl, Devi stayed on earth to help his daughter who is left at the mercy of not very nice relatives. The story then turns to Devi’s attempts to get Suseela’s life settled and then protect the world from said demon, while also taking some time for herself to fall in love. Devi is a practical woman and her defences are usually effective, causing great vexation to the demon. She draws on her own power as well as negotiating with her father, an array of goddesses and finally makes a drastic sacrifice to save her adopted family.

Prema is lovely as Devi. She is quite statuesque and effortlessly draws attention in even the most chaotic ensemble scenes. Devi is a resourceful and playful young lady but never crosses into hyperactive nutter heroine territory. Prema’s expressions are spot on and she is very funny without being too broad or too silly. I really liked Devi’s relationship with Vijay as once she tricked her way into his home, they genuinely seemed to like each other and would joke around or gang up on Vijay’s brother. Sadly, Devi does no snake dancing but she does frolic a lot; in meadows, in the snow, even in water. Lots of frolicking. But she also takes decisive action when needed, including dragging Vijay to the temple and marrying him on the spot before she went off to sort out the demon. The wardrobe department suffered from the lack of good snake costume reference material and would that they had read Jenni’s Filmi Snake Spotter’s Field Guide.

Devi-Naag PanchamiDevi-The Look

Devi is quite demurely clad, if occasionally retina searing in her colour choices. She does have a simple everyday snake headdress and can muster up a passable Look, but there was room for more and better accessorising.

Devi-Suseela and Devi as a snake

Vanitha is Suseela, and she is the other focus of the story. Devi’s efforts to protect her range from intervening when her guardians abuse her to setting up a romance with Vijay’s bossy older brother Ranjit (Bhanuchander). Suseela is not as active in the drama as Devi but her faith and resilience are tested so many times, and she honours her promises. Her romance with Ranjit is quite sweet despite his tendency to grumpiness. Suseela proves the power of her faith, abetted by Devi, and saves him from Devi-in-disguise-as-a-common-cobra so he is wildly impressed by this shy yet fearless woman.

Devi-Showkar Janaki

Showkar Janaki is Vijay and Ranjit’s grandmother (I think). She is loved and respected and is the glue that holds her household together. She is funny and a bit sarcastic but treats her daughter-in-law and the mysterious Devi with kindness and respect. It is nice to see a blended family that gets along and where people are generally nice unless they are demonically possessed.

Devi-Vijay lycraDevi-Bhanuchander

Shiju and Bhanuchander are good in their roles but despite having seen the film a couple of times I don’t ever recall them in much detail. I do always remember the black and silvery lycra bike shorts Vijay wears in one early scene. What were they thinking? Ranjit is an unlikeable character at first but he does seem to lighten up once he goes sweet on Suseela. Both actors have some nice scenes and are involved in pivotal moments but they are either pawns or observers most of the time as Devi and the demon battle secretly around them.

Devi-Bad familyDevi-babu Mohan and squirrel headdress

The rest of the support cast are in more comedic and less interesting roles. Suseela’s horrible relatives get their comeuppance thanks to Devi who literally shows them in their true colours. Comedy uncle regular Babu Mohan is a hapless fool who is transformed into a monkey for most of the story and if anything, that improves his performance. I’m still not sure why he appeared wearing a stuffed squirrel on his head. The demon also takes on the appearance of a creepy homicidal child (the rather too convincing Master Mahendran) as well as the more traditional multi-limbed monstrous avatar.

Devi-Giant space snakes

The special effects are pretty good and help blend the fantasy and religious themes. Plus it’s very entertaining what with the demonic bats, divine medical intervention, giant fire breathing snakes, you know … the usual. The real snakes are excellent and once again I paused to wonder at the art of filmi snake wrangling and hope that all the scaly stars were in good health after the filming.  But fundamentally the story is not about CGI or being immortal or who has the biggest weapon (although giant snake fangs are hard to beat), it is about doing right and demonstrating faith, no matter how overwhelmed and outgunned you feel.

I liked the opening song which had Shiju and Babu Mohan dancing what was more like a romantic duet than an heroic introduction. I mentioned the missed opportunity for a snake dance. The songs serve little purpose, and neither are they very memorable. Devi Sri Prasad’s soundtrack isn’t bad, but would work just as well as a background score without the very basic picturisations.

Devi is enjoyable if you like the fantasy genre and appreciate the religious underpinning of the story. Prema delivers a strong performance and it was good to see a film with several prominent and likeable female characters. Plus it seems I’m a sucker for a cobra space ship and a bit of divine justice. 3 ½ stars!

Naag Panchami Fesssstival Continuing Professional Development Snake Quiz

compiled by jenni

A number of readers may be interested in using the accumulated readings of the Naag Panchami Fesssstival for the purpose of accruing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for their professional snake organisation membership.  To this end, the following active CPD quiz (The Quiz) has been developed to test the knowledge and skill set you have enhanced through the knowledge you have developed over the course of the Fesssstival.

The Quiz is divided into 3 sections

1.  Snake Identification Task   (30% of total mark)

2.  Multiple Choice Questions  (30% of total mark)

3.  Essay Questions  (40% of total mark)

Response sheets can be submitted online at the conclusion of this post.  Points will be awarded based on both accurate and well expressed completion of the set tasks and your results will be forwarded to your nominated snake organisation professional development registrar.

QUIZ

1. Snake Identification Tasks

For the pictures below, please assess using the following criteria, then make an assessment based on the number of, and degree to which, snakey characteristics are met.

A.  Real Snake or Fake Snake?

a.  Wears this outfit

a.  Is accompanied by these men

Wears this headgear

Sometimes looks like this

And wears this much eyeliner?

 

B.  The following clips demonstrate which handy filmi snake skill?

 
 

C.  Real Snake or Fake Snake?

Wears this headgear

Wears this outfit

Accompanied by this man

Sometimes looks like this

Wears this much eyeliner


 
 

2.  Multiple Choice Questions

A.  If you encountered this

or  this

Would you?

a.  Run

b.  Fall on your knees and beg

c.  Whip out your snake pipe and play

d.  Ask them round for a coffee

e.  All of the above

 

 

B.  What advice would you provide for these snake wannabe fashionistas?

a.  Make it shorter

b.  Make it tighter

c.  Put on some more jewellery

d.  Put on some more eyeliner

e.  All of the above

f.  Try one of these outfits, I think this look would really suit you


 
 

C.  Conventional fashion wisdom would have us believe that when dressing for a big night out, check in the mirror, then remove one piece of jewellery.

If you are a snake, is this

a.  True

b.  False


 

D.  Which ridiculous and short sighted Indian film industry wilfully and wrongfully denied Kamal Hassan the opportunity to do an interpretive snake dance despite his starring in a snake film?  Or to reframe the question:  Which humane and considerate Indian film industry prevented Kamal Hassan from inflicting another ridiculous interpretive dance on his unsuspecting audience – this time an interpretive snake dance?

A sample clip for the underexposed: ‘1 2 3 4 now’ from Punnagai Mannan

a.  Bollywood

b.  Tollywood

c.  Kollywood

d.  The public needs to be protected from any more Kamal Hassan interpretive dance.

e.   a and d

f.   b and d

g.  c and d

 
 
 

E.  Which of the following indicators would point to an acceptable or good standard of snake movie?

a.  There are no snake dances

b.  A toothpaste snake/steam snakes

c.  Any film where the essence of a character can be distilled to ‘Weepy’ or ‘Rapey’

d.  Jeetendra

e. Any snake dance involving someone who looks like Freddie Mercury

f.  A comedy side plot involving a man selling his niece.

g. Disney sanctioned, fabric at the expense of substance (think about it – the formula of snake to fabric ratio is a giveaway), Siddharth with his hair in a ponytail filled extravaganzas

 

F.  An exciting and really really really important new discovery was made by one of the participants in the Naag Panchami fessstival

This was

a.  The previously thought to be extinct and hence extremely rare and therefore very very exciting to witness indeed Bangla filmi snake sub-species Naagus Mongooseus Ladyi commonly known as Nagin-Mongoose-Lady which amazingly shape shifts between snake and mongoose when fighting.  WOW!!!!  WHO WOULD HAVE EVER THOUGHT WE’D HAVE SEEN VIDEO FOOTAGE????  SO IMPRESSIVE AND FABULOUS I JUST CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!!!!!

b.  A so tiny as to be virtually inconsequential magical snake in an arty film

c. A modern modestly clothed snake

 

G.  During the course of the 2011 Fessstival a paper was successfully submitted to the Journal of the Academy of Applied Filmi Snake Research and Ethics discussing which controversial issue.

a.  The neglected role of Kamal Hassan interpretive dance in snake cinema

b.  Mongoose abuse and community consultation:  Help or hinderance

c.  The directorial choices of Jennifer Lynch in the film Hissss and their consequences

d.  The legitimacy of weaselesque snake statuary in the snake movie industry

 
 

H.  The current research findings suggest snake venom is (most likely to be) on the following dominant colour spectrum range.

a.         Yellow

b.         Red

c.         Blue

Hint:  This snake is filled with venom


 

3.  Essay Questions

Choose two (2) of the following essay questions.

Essay Question A.

In the 1980 Telugu film Punnami Naagu, Chiranjeevi plays the role of a snake in which all of his bodily fluids are deadly.  If you were an intended victim, which of Chiranjeevi’s bodily fluids would you prefer to be killed by and why?

Essay Question B.

Beth (Illinois, 2011) posits “Snake movie grand finales should have confrontational dancing, hallucinogenic venom, flying snakes, imperiled children, thunder claps, and/or crescendoing been music—or at least quick cuts between good and evil snakes doing The Look”

Do you agree or disagree?  Discuss, using climactic examples from at least four (4) films in the snake genre including this climax scene from Doodh Ka Karz.

Essay question C

Given the lead character in snake movies is most often female and evokes a strong quasi-divine female warrior/protectoress archetype, does the oft made choice of item girls in lead roles essentially serve to simply reinforce, or actively subvert, the usual images of women presented in the dominant paradigm of Indian cinema? Discuss.

Or for the visuo-perceptually inclined:

Assessment task.

Please construct a to scale model of the giant sci fi, supernatural snake mothercraft in the film Devi (1999). Include three (3) recommended modifications, to decrease the likelihood of (a) departing prematurely and (b) (particularly on nights pertaining to the culmination of the Saros cycle) equiping the ship with some kind of early warning device to facilitate timely demon (i) detection and (ii) eradication. (Photographic/video record of the model ( phased construction and completed) and plan specifications of all modifications to be submitted online).

Notes:

PLEASE SUBMIT your double spaced in 12 pt Arial Narrow font responses to the Cinema Chaat Comments section attached to this post.  In due course you will be notified of the outcome at the email address you submitted with your professional Snake Spotting Organisation. 

If you really must cheat, it may cost you your life if you fail to correctly identify a filmi snake. Take your chances:

Section 1

A – Real Snake

B – The Reverse Suck Manoeuvre

C – Fake Snake.  No self respecting snake would ever apply such a miniscule amount of eyeliner.  Also, this man is NOT Jeetendra

Section 2

A – Answer: a. is probably your best bet unless you are a snake pipe genius.

B – Answer: e. All of the above or f.  Then, because of your clearly helpful and informed advice, they might consider not killing you.

C – Answer: b.  If you are a snake, the answer is, when dressing for a big night out, check in the mirror and add two pieces of jewellery and an extra head ornament.

D - Answer:  Depending on your preferences (and levels of resilience), the correct answer is either c. or g.

E - Answer:   b. A toothpaste snake /steam snakes and surprisingly, d. Jeetendra

F – Answer:  c.  A modern modestly clothed snake in Naag Lok.  A significant moment in the documentation of snake filmi history Beth.  Congratulations.

G - Answer:  b.  Mongoose Abuse.  I cannot emphasize enough what an important, yet vexing and complex issue the whole mongoose snake interface in films is for academic and scientific filmi snake communities.

H - Answer: If you really need one after the Hint, it’s c.  (and based on the current evidence, may range in hue from clear to blue-violet)

An Open Letter on the Subject of Filmi Snake Identification and Research

The hallowed halls of the Academy of Applied Filmi Snake Research and Ethics are buzzing with the latest controversy. Our visiting snake expert responds to the (unfair, unjust and unreasonable) criticism levelled at her work by an anonymous  weasel professor. 

Professor,

I am gratified that you have provided the opportunity for further discourse and academic debate in response to the Filmi Snake Spotter’s Field Guide (The Guide)  in your comment about Beth’s scholarly analysis of the snake film Naag Lok.  Before I provide some additional comments in relation to the criticisms levelled at my work, I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Beth (Illinois, 2011) to the evidence base of filmi snake identification.  As you noted, the principles of scientific rigour to which she has adhered, are laudable and set a new standard in the field.

Whilst Beth (ibid) has certainly identified two new areas for research in the roles of the transformative snake skin lens overlay and the serpentine tikka, I would like to draw your attention to some comments in the introductory section of The Guide:  (a.) “In this guide we will illustrate only a small sample of the many hundreds of filmi snake species featured in sub continental movies” (p. 1.)  and (b.) “Although scientific validation has been undertaken through consultation with both acknowledged experts and enthusiastic amateurs in the area, hypotheses are always subject to revision with an expanded evidence base.”

It is important, I believe, to acknowledge the audience for whom one is writing.  Whilst perhaps it can be argued that the scope of The Guide is broad, as explicitly stated, the intention was the provide some basic, yet practically helpful information, thus providing some guidelines and structure for filmi snake identification, for both professionals and lay persons alike.  At no point, I would like to emphasise, was The Guide touted as an exhaustive monograph.

I would specifically like to address the assertion that omissions of reference were made to the characteristic of venom and the role of the mongoose in filmi snake identification.

1.  Venom

Far from neglecting the role of venom in filmi identification, it is important to note that the results in this area are sufficiently inconclusive at this stage, for exclusion from The Guide.

The sample at the current time is simply too small to achieve any acceptable level of statistical significance.  Observational data suggests that venom may be a useful indicator, but we have conflicting information about both the impact of gender on venom, as well as some conflicting data about colour of venom (though it appears that venom is on the colour spectrum of clear to blue-violet).  The two things that the data demonstrates as emerging trends are (i) that all bodily fluids of the filmi snake appear to be venomous. And (ii) filmi snakes, unlike non-filmi snakes, appear to be able to suck their venom out of any fimi-snake victim and restore life (the Reverse Suck Manoeuvre).

2.  The Mongoose

The inclusion or exclusion of the role of the mongoose is indeed a vexed one.  As part of the extensive consultative process with a number of scientific and government authorities prior to the publication of The Guide, a submission was received form the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals requesting that no reference be made to the role of the mongoose because of the clear instances of both mongooses and snakes being hurt, and even killed, in the course of filming snake movies.  Their substantial and compelling body of research suggests that publicity in these areas increases the likelihood of recurrence (to a 0.01 level of statistical significance).

This of course, posed a significant ethical dilemma regarding to the need for open scientific debate versus the need for a responsible approach to animal welfare.  In consultation with a number of eminent ethicists, it was determined that the scientific debate was best placed to occur in professional and academic snake forums rather than in a more populist publication like the Guide.  On that basis, the decision to omit was resolved.  For the edification of the scientific community however, a forthcoming article on the subject has been submitted and accepted for publication in the Journal of the Academy of Applied Filmi Snake Research and Ethics.

I hope this letter goes some way to addressing some of the concerns expressed about the perceived shortcomings of The Filmi Snake Spotter’s Field Guide and serves to further contribute to the spirit of open discussion and debate in the important area of filmi snake identification and research.

jenni

Sheshnaag

Sheshnaag is an excellent masala snakefest starring Jeetendra and Rekha, with a starry supporting cast and the added delight of Danny Denzongpa as the EVIL Aghoori. The Laxmikant Pyarelal soundtrack is mostly snake dance related, which means lots of snaky dancing! And I think director KR Reddy captured a vintage feel with Sheshnaag which doesn’t seem like a film released in 1990.

Allow Aghoori to describe his origins as a creation of the devil and show you around his cave:

My DVD has the worst picture quality but the most marvellous subtitles. Aghoori is hunting a nagin couple, Pritam and Banu, who unlock a treasure trove every lunar eclipse using amazing special effects.

They give the wealth to the needy and hold the key to immortality. Aghoori is obsessed with power and filled with venom, determined to become more powerful than the gods.

Identifying the snakes in this film is very easy as they are a) not shy and b) one of them is Jeetendra (ref The Jeetendra Effect).

While this epic battle between good and bad is being waged, there is evil afoot in the human domain. Champa (Rekha) is left to look after her mentally backward brother Bhola (Rishi Kapoor) and her horrible husband (Anupam Kher) after her father dies. Bhola is protective of all animals including snakes and he can charm any animal by playing his flute. He falls afoul of Aghoori’s henchman when he saves the female snake Banu (Madhavi), thus winning her gratitude. Champa’s husband wagers her mangalsutra and then her person in a game of cards – he is really vile. After calling on Krishna to help her escape a rape attempt, she runs away and leaps from a cliff to escape her pursuers. Just as I was bemoaning an appalling under-utilisation of Rekha, Banu uses her powers to transform into a replica of Champa and come to Bhola’s aid to repay her debt. They move into a nicely decorated mansion with excellent snaky decor and are set for the good life.

Jeetendra joins the household as a servant so he can be close to his wife and help look after Bhola. The rest of the story is then a crazy race to see if Aghoori will take over the world.

I really disliked Rishi’s acting, character and storyline in this. Bhola’s under-developed intelligence would have been challenging for any actor, but Rishi just opted for flattening his hair and mugging for the camera.

There is a romance track for him, as Kamini (Mandakini – not a snake despite those eyes and some questionable outfits) is driven into his arms by a startling bear attack. She’s a hunting, shooting type of gal from a family of animal hide dealers but clearly life had not prepared her for finding a small person in a bear suit humping her leg.

It doesn’t seem to be a good match, and Bhola’s utter stupidity doesn’t help matters. If you knew someone wanted to hunt game, would you call more of your animal friends to stand in front of the armed lunatics? Honestly. It’s a revolting episode and apart from all the fake blood pouring from animals, I think Rishi stepped on a pigeon for real. Bhola wins Kamini over with his gormless vapidity, and takes from her intended, a creepy gun toting cousin.  He swaggers around, confident that his sister will always protect him. When Jeetendra decides to make Bhola a warrior to protect everyone…well I’m sure you can imagine. Beth queried whether headbutting clay pots was a documented snake fighting technique. I suspect the technique was chosen as Bhola’s head was solid wood.

Rekha is a powerful actor and being a vengeful snake allowed her to unleash her forceful side. I question whether it was really worth jeopardising your immortality and powers just to save a backward fool. On the plus side she gets some awesome outfits. I preferred Madhavi’s dancing, but Rekha does handle the venom spitting (her venom strips paint) with aplomb and has mastered The Look.

Banu/Champa’s resolve and certainty drives much of the action and she takes responsibility for her family in both her human and snake roles. When Bhola drags her human husband back and expects Champa to accept him, she is unrelenting and cold despite the combined anger of the men.

I mentioned Bhola was annoying? Even allowing for times and morality having changed, how could anyone demand someone they love take back into their household a man who brutalised and humiliated them? It’s all wrong, and not helped by the bad acting. Rishi was lucky he had Anupam Kher in the same cast as it makes Bhola look marginally better. Anyway. Back to the snakes.

Rekha’s scenes with Jeetendra are sometimes quite touching as Banu/Champa is aware of the consequences of committing to helping the idiot human, and knows they are in danger from Aghoori too. They also get some more of those special effects. When (WHY?) she decides to sacrifice herself to save Bhola I was quite upset. WHY REKHA WHY???

Jeetendra is there. He really doesn’t have all that much to do apart from dancing, flying, biffo, biting, duelling and housework. He is not the dominant snake in the marriage and I think it’s safe to say that Madhavi/Rekha wears the lurex pants in the relationship. I swear he’d never seen a broom until this film, and he seems to torment Bhola more than he does anything else in that household. Jeetendra got some excellent snake powers including an array of coloured lighting effects and a unique fighting style.

His first fight with Aghoori is hilarious, and he also has a nice line in venom spitting (his is flammable).  His dancing…He is not good at partnering the ladies in their dancing. Luckily they seem to manage to navigate around him. He also did an interpretative vengeful Snake Dance which was memorable.

Madhavi had a much smaller presence in the film than Rekha, but her dancing is lovely and she had some fabulous snaky accessories.

She and Jeetendra employed a fighting style that involved jabbing the victim with their fingers rather than biting so I think maybe they had venomous manicures.  The outfits for all the snakes really are worth a look.

Danny Denzongpa owns the film. He is insanely evil and in cackling good form as Aghoori. I loved this performance and I cheered extra loud when Aghoori sent Bhola flying with a few well placed kicks. Not everything an evil person does is necessarily bad!

And what happens? I really can’t say. But I do give the film 3 1/2 stars!