Before I start speaking on the pros of this highly entertaining movie which I like so much that I have watched it many times, let me clarify that neither I am superstitious, nor I support its superstitious premise. The superstitions embedded in the plot and the narrative are the cons of the movie which I negate before I elaborate the pros.
The movie is based on the mythological assumption that if a cobra completes 100 years of life, it becomes an ICHCHHADHAARI NAG (a cobra able to switch over to human form at its will). Another assumption is if you kill the male snake (Nag), his lady love, i.e., the female snake (Nagin) will inflict a bitter revenge upon you. With these main superstitious assumptions, some other inter-related but scientifically non-corroborated assumptions are : 1. The photograph of the killer remains in the eyes of the killed cobra, 2. Whenever an ICHHADHAARI NAG (or NAGIN) in the human form comes in front of a mirror, his (or her) real snaky appearance is visible in the mirror and many others.
However, even if you start watching this movie with a per-conceived mindset that this movie will prove to be a supernatural let-down, it you will be taken by surprise by the narrative which once having caught you, will not allow you to leave the movie before the words – ‘The End’ appear on the screen. It’s not chilling but very very thrilling, thoroughly engrossing till the very finish and giving you a feeling that you have spent 3 hours full of entertainment.
This is a multi-starrer movie having a galaxy of male stars like Sunil Dutt, Jeetendra, Feroz Khan, Sanjay Khan, Kabir Bedi, Vinod Mehra, Anil Dhawan and Prem Nath whereas just see the fabulous list of female stars – Reena Roy, Rekha, Mumtaz, Yogeeta Bali, Neelam Mehra and Prema Narayan. Handling so many stars is also no joke, woving them perfectly in an interesting story and doing justice to the stardom of each one, at the same time. And the director, Raj Kumar Kohli has done it with finesse. He has given proper footage to the entire cast according to the roles assigned. Every character has got ample room to groom and despite variance in footage, it does not seem that there has been any type of injustice to any actor or actress.
The story, as hinted above, revolves around the revenge of the female snake (Nagin) who kills the killers of her love, i.e., the male snake (Nag). How she kills each one of them and how ultimately dies herself in an attempt to kill the remaining last one, is the script which has several characters, several twists and turns and abundance of thrill. Even the most logical viewers cannot avoid the temptation of watching the whole movie once they start watching it for a few minutes because the grip of the narrative is simply mesmerising.
This is definitely the best work of the director, Raj Kumar Kohli. He has taken his time in building up the characters and the background of each one of the killing group and he is nowhere in a haste to wrap up the movie. Yet the movie is fast paced and does now allow the viewer to think about the contradictions in the narrative, viz. the Nagin seems invincible throughout whereas the Nag seems quite vulnerable to a hawk in the opening scene of the movie or the victims are safe from the Nagin by wearing the pious amulets whereas the holy man giving them the amulets gets himself killed by the Nagin. You can identify these points while thinking about the movie later on, not when going through it and that is the success of the director. One more thing is that though the killing of the Nag when he was going to mate his lady love, i.e., the Nagin, was wrong; you sympathise with most of the victims (everyone except Anil Dhawan who had fired the bullet killing the Nag) of the Nagin when they are undergoing her terror. The group of forest dwelling friends consists of men of diverse nature and from diverse backgrounds, right from the widower father of a small kid who is always attempting a patch-up between his sister and her husband, to an atheist who does not respect his religious wife, to the leader of the group who is concerned about the life of his each and every friend. In fact, while going through the movie on the screen, you are lost in the story told and just forget everything else.
The music (by Laxmikant Pyarelal) has a lot to boast about since the songs like – Tere sang pyar main nahin todna, Tere ishq ka mujh pe hua ye asar hai, Hafton maheenon barson nahin and Tera mera mera tera mil gaya dil dil se are very good to listen as well as to watch alongwith the on-screen story. The technical aspects are all in order. The snake fight scene is amazing because the movie had been made in 1976 when there were no computer graphics. All the thrilling scenes are praiseworthy and they keep the viewer glued to the screen.
Reena Roy plays the title role, i.e., the revengeful Nagin and this is the most important role of her entire career. She does not disappoint. Among the male leads, Sunil Dutt is the main protagonist getting the maximum footage, and he has done well. All other male-female leads have got proper footage and opportunity to show their talent and the director has extracted desired performances from them. Even Ranjeet and Prema Narayan impress in their cameos.
My final take on this movie – please don’t believe this story and several assumptions inherent in it. Yet do watch it if you are fond of entertaining musical thrillers. You will get the full value of your money and time.