Milap
India 1972
Directed by B. R. Ishara.


A story of love through multiple reincarnations, gone slightly wrong. Ravi (Shatrughan Sinha) is a roving, unsatisfied, spoiled rich kid who travels to Nandi Hills where he meets Rani (Reena Roy), the daughter of a snake charmer, and falls in love. Only trouble is she is watched by a cobra, day and night, who jealously kills anyone who tries to get close to her. Her cousin Raju (Danny Denzongpa), a snake charmer himself, also fancies her and resents Ravi's intrusion. And when Rani starts falling for Ravi too, both Raju and the snake starts getting pissed off.

But their love is fated, sort of -- as explained by opium-cigarette smoking, beautiful Radha (Sarita): They were in love in a previous life, many years ago, but he was a poor peasant and her father would not approve the wedding, and he flung himself off a cliff. Now, hundreds of years later, she has reincarnated body and soul, and so has he. Only trouble is, his soul has reincarnated as a snake, his body and face reincarnated as Ravi. Pretty soon the love match heats up, as the snake takes human form (also played by Shatrughan Sinha) and demands they consummate their love. She agrees, little knowing that his snake sex-magic will kill her for good.

MILAP throws down a new twist to the usual snake-woman fare, and this, combined with impressive scenery, makes the film fairly entertaining to watch. It is very difficult to take the drama very seriously, though, due in part to the fact that the antagonist is a snake for much of the running time, and a lot of scenes feature the snake peeking in a window, slithering nearby to overhear conversations, and so on. There is even a love song sung to the snake. The actors are all in earnest, but the effect is comical.

Shatrughan Sinha does a nice job with his three roles (spoiled rich guy, romantic villager from the past, and snake spirit), and Reena Roy is very charming and attractive and believable as the snake charmer's daughter. Danny Denzongpa sports a ridiculous hairstyle, carries snakes around for most of the film, and does almost as much spying on our heroes as the snake does. As usual, though, he is a welcome addition to the cast.

The entire film was shot at Nandi Hills, Mysore, which rise up to overlook a flat expanse of farm and green as far as the eye can see. Scenes take place near dramatic cliffs (now a tourist destination because of the former Tipu Sultan's prediliction for dropping prisoners off of them) and an ancient temple. The location is unique and interesting, but by the end of the movie also felt rather limited. After the tenth conversation that takes place in front of the same scenic vista, you pretty much don't need to see it again. Wouldn't mind paying the site a visit in person one day, though.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on February 29, 2008.


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