Monday, June 16, 2008

Nagin (India, 1976)

My taste in retro cinema generally tends to veer Sixties-ward, but in the case of Bollywood, I've got to admit that the 1970s are where it's at, and 1976's Nagin is a good example of why. I don't know if I'll get around to writing a long form review of this one (right now I'm concentrating on giving the Teleport City treatment to another Feroz Khan starrer from that decade, the sublime Geetaa Mera Naam) but I wanted to at least get some images up, because for this one director Rajkumar Kohli used a palette that was lurid even by Bollywood standards. Feast your eyes!

Nagin is just one of a number of Indian films made over the years based on the concept of a vengeful female snake taking human form -- and, in fact, I see that a new, no doubt CGI-laden version is due out next year. In this version a group of guys (lead by Sunil Dutt and Feroz Khan) get on the wrong side of said snake lady (Reena Roy) when one of their number mistakenly kills her lover. Through assuming a variety of guises, the driven-insane-by-grief serpent then sets out to stalk, seduce and kill each of the men one by one. And that's it. There's no long separated siblings or sickly mother - just a compact and fast-paced little horror film plot, spruced up with a few decent Laxmikant-Pyarelal musical numbers, all the expectedly nightmarish interpretations of period couture you could want, and numerous excuses for Sunil Dutt and Feroz Khan to punch people -- including each other -- in the face.

Nagin abounds with the type of primitive Bollywood special effects that, while technically as bad as they could be, are still affecting by virtue of their very strangeness. (Seriously, you may have seen a lot of bad special effects, but you've never seen bad special effects like these before.) This, combined with the "Bava meets Sirk in a Sno-cone factory" look of much of the movie, makes Nagin a truly memorable visual experience, if perhaps not a pleasant one for those who prefer more muted tones... or epileptics, for that matter. Myself, I love a movie that blasts my eyes while it's blowing my mind, so this one snaked its way right into my cold little heart.

5 comments:

duriandave said...

Oooh... this looks good. I love snake girl movies. I didn't realize Bollywood had them too.

And I noticed that the director of the 2009 Nagin is David Lynch's daughter?! Wow...

Todd said...

I hope she has better luck with it than she did with Boxing Helena.

duriandave said...

I never saw that. How was it?

Todd said...

I honestly don't know if I ever saw it in its entirety. I just remember that, at the time, the film itself kind of got overshadowed by the legal battle that erupted over Kim Bassinger pulling out of her contract to play the lead.

Beth said...

"all the expectedly nightmarish interpretations of period couture you could want" -> SOLD! I love that green triangle dress, for starters. Plus that's a cast to be reckoned with!