It's a sad fact that Western horror cinema has produced no female creature as enduring as India's Nagin. The closest it has come are Jacques Fournier’s The Cat People, which only merited one sequel, and Hammer's The Reptile, which was one of the studio’s rare “one and done” monster films. The Bride of Frankenstein’s debut was also her swan song, although she did get an Aurora model kit out of the deal. By contrast, the Nagin, a poisonous snake given the form of a beautiful human woman, has been a part of Hindi cinema almost since its inception.
Mr. India’s Mogambo a couple of years later (and speaking of authority and presence, it only just occurred to me that Amrish Puri is India’s answer to Christopher Lee, and vice versa.) Sridevi, for her part, was a newly minted superstar at the time and earns the title, delivering a performance of fierce intensity. Her Nagin has both a soul and a conscience and, despite whatever plans she might have started out with, comes to dedicate herself to being the loyal protector of Rajiv and his family. It’s something of a reversal of the Kipling story “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” with the cobra acting as the protector of the family rather than the threat against it.