Thwarted in my previous snake-movie viewing attempt by Sky Entertainment’s poor quality control, I moved on to this long-overdue-for-watching one and was much happier in any case. Not only is heroine Neelam not smacked in the face every other minute (although her father does want to kill her at one point, but he is Amrish Puri so it’s to be expected); but there are a lot more snakes and Aruna Irani (or her representative) lactates onscreen. She also (a la Smita Patil before her) sets out to pump her newborn son full of hatred, albeit somewhat less successfully, possibly because Jackie Shroff doesn’t have to also learn disco. Or maybe because Jackie has more snake backup than Mithun so doesn’t need to be as angry. I don’t know. I just know that I would much rather watch snakes massing in military formation and launching themselves like missiles than watch men pounding each other to a bloody pulp (although there is some of that too).
Though this is only available (to my knowledge) without subtitles, I figured since my current blog header features images of Shashi and Bindu from the film I ought to watch it. And it’s pretty entertaining, maybe even more so if you don’t know what’s going on. I don’t need subtitles to know that there is a lot of patriotic fervor and anti-smuggling-corruption-greed preaching in the story, but there are lots of subplots woven together too and without subtitles I have no idea if the subsequent story fabric is a sturdy khadi or fraying and full of large holes; I don’t care, either. Shashi is beginning to show his age (well, so am I) but he is still worthy eye-candy (see above), and Rekha is at her delightfully plump and imperious best. A huge cast of character actors—many of whom I need help identifying—are decked out in dizzying full-on seventies fashions, bad wigs, and huge sideburns, all in aesthetic competition with the beautiful Rajasthan desert.
I sometimes think of Manmohan Desai’s films as being like a rodeo saddle bronc ride: as they erupt from the gate, the rider (i.e. director) is in control of the horse (i.e. story), and excitement builds until the rider is either tossed off or jumps off after his 8 seconds are up. Either way it ends with an out-of-control animal loose in the arena and the cowboy sprawled in the dust. In Gangaa Jamuna Saraswathi the rider is tossed off about halfway through his 8 seconds. Up to that point, the movie entertains with its twists and turns and stunning visuals; but the second half goes haywire until it tires itself out and limps to its conclusion. Too bad! because it had real potential.