Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Occult Bollywood

It's possible that you won't thank me for pointing out this movie. I ordered Goddess from BBuster on-line, because I have no problem risking zero dollars on a flick that gets 1 1/2 stars with a description like: A wealthy and handsome gentleman falls for a charming and beautiful woman without realizing that she is actually the snake goddess Devi in disguise in this sumptuous take on the classic Hindu fable. Realizing that her mortal lover is in danger of attack from the malevolent snake deity Dantra, Devi does everything in her power to keep him safe from harm.
So, this flick, popular throughout SE Asia, apparently, is over 2 1/2 hours long, and the first hour has only a little cool stuff. The insipid melodrama of two Indian families is fast-forwardable, but the scene in which the Serpent-Devi arrives on earth in the totally psychedelic vimana, strays from her giggly-hot serpent-devi companions and is attacked by the indeterminate rakshasa type is a taste of more to come. The father of the key family sacrifices his own life to save our wayward Devi, and she becomes the guardian angel of the family.
The cool thing about this flick is the importance and depiction of Hindu (and totally Saivite) ritualism, including some directly practical-magic rites. The Snake-God and his Devi daughters are the good guys, and the demonic fellow gets some excellent footage using his tantrik (not sexual) rites to summon his hideous even-demonier god. The film culminates in a double-devotion rite, in which the mortal woman does ritual in her home while the demi-goddess (surely a 'daimon' by euro-standards) works bigger ritual in a mythic locale - all visually satisfying and culturally fascinating, to my particular sort of geekery.
The musical footage during the rites is very nice - the subtitles are minimalist, but the hymns are recognizable if you know that sort of thing. The bollywood musical love-song stuff seems lame by bollywood standards, but the visual effects are pure color and light, even thiongs appear and disappear by the most usual sort of stop-footage.
Anyway, worth seeing to find the footage of ritual and magic. Be of stout heart, and get through the first hour...

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