Super Power (1991)
Cast: Sultan Rahi, Sapna, Shahida Mini, Humayun Qureshi, Saher
Director: Shaukat Raz
Nutshell: Deadly Cold War Action Thriller featuring two Super Powers locked into a battle until death. Very odd even by Lollywood standards.
Drawn to intriguing titles and especially those featuring Sultan Rahi this was the perfect choice for a night cap viewing. Expecting a nuclear showdown between two super power Empires it was a bit of a shock when instead it turns out to be more of a battle between two species for the ultimate prize: the control of the planet earth.
On the one side you have a posse of Snake People, devotees of an a man who hangs out in his bathroom dressing gown and sports a mighty impressive new wave white weave and matching eye brows. He also is the commander in chief of the snake force, the Naag Mahraaj or the Boss Snake and here is presides over a meeting of four followers and what look like some school children.
The Boss Snake King informs his disciples of the admirable feats of the forefathers but chides the two couples that despite their devotion they haven’t been keeping up with their chores. They haven’t killed enough people and nor have they performed their spiritual responsibilities and if they are to enjoy the eternal fruits of the snake lifestyle they need to show that they mean business.
The shamed snakes go on a rampage killing mostly a number of old women and young children. The village people implore the village Chaudhary to do something before the entire populace is wiped out and it is agreed that they ought to acquire the services of the famed Sapera (Snake Man) Kalu Sapera whose reputation and fame is known far and wide.
The snake couple meanwhile appears to be making light of their duties, frittering the time of day away frolicking in the gardens with their nagin girlfriends whispering sweet nothings or then indulging in the odd song and dance. This new generation of snake people seem to lead a wasteful, shallow and frivolous life, not unlike the Shah’s of Sunset; not exactly one that would make the Snake gods too proud.
Kalu Sapera and his posse of saperas have a field day capturing loads of snakes but the couple manages to get away and head to the Maharaj to inform him of the onslaught against them. The Maharaj swears a bloody revenge and a war is launched between the two Super Powers; the Naag People vs The Villagers led by the Chaudhary whose buxom daughter heads off for an ill-advised picnic and ends up in the clutches of the snake people but luck is with her as a feisty mongoose keeps showing up and rescuing her by battling the snakes just as they are in attack mode. Meanwhile she suffers a bump on the head and is knocked out and when rescued by some local villagers, she appears to have lost all her memory and doesn’t know who she is. Meanwhile her father, the village lord is in a terrible state of worry for his poppet.
The snake people meanwhile are struggling to assert themselves and are clearly losing the battle if not the war against the Sapera and the mysterious Mongoose that keeps popping up to ruin any chances of advancement. The dead Nagin returns momentarily to have some harsh words with her lover who had sworn to resurrect her but seems to be making no headway what so ever. She takes it upon herself to seduce the Man Mongoose with a sultry dance but her tactics are less than subtle as she mistakenly wears her best snake jewelry and amulets and her finest snake outfits, which though alluring, are a dead giveaway. Sultan Rahi the Mongoose is not to be fooled so easily and even this pathetic plan by the snake people is doomed to failure.
The film clearly works on two levels; one as an simple Snake v Mongoose clash of civilizations or as a metaphor for the clash of two Super Powers in a predominantly bipolar geo political sense. The god fearing mongoose; fearless, determined, canny and disciplined has all the qualities of the devout spiritual person while their adversaries the Snake People lead avaricious lives motivated by a lust for eternal youth and immortality yet they do absolutely nothing to earn such luxuries other than sing and dance and terrorize the helpless and the aged from time to time.
Their god is a mere mortal with a booming voice in the finest traditions of Punjabi movie villains and a very dubious weave that looks like it could have been passed down by the Drag version of Father Christmas or borrowed from Lady Bunny. He is clearly a godless con man like Stalin or so many of the other dictators of the monolithic communist states of years gone by.
The film features some heart-stopping excitement in the form of a number of Snake v Mongoose fight sequences, shot in brutal unedited fashion. There is much drama with various hapless females losing then regaining their memories and getting pregnant while suffering bout of amnesia. Sultan Rahi’s presence as the Mongoose sent by Allah is electrifying while the rest of the cast are adequate and the beleaguered Naag who keeps getting thrashed over and over again cuts a forlorn figure.
On the whole Super Power makes for an interesting pseudo geo political snake v mongoose action-thriller – a bit of a rarity in this day and age.