Name: Nagina (Snake)
Director: Harmesh Malhotra
Did I watch this recently? Yes
Rajeev (Rishi Kapoor) returns from his studies abroad and his mother, Rani Maa (Sushma Seth) and their estate manager, Thakur (Prem Chopra) are overjoyed. Thakur hopes that Rajeev will get married to Thakur’s daughter, Vijaya (Komal). Rani Maa has no objection to the match. Life seems to be moving along peacefully, when fate takes a hand. While wandering through a ruined part of his ancestral mansion, Rajeev almost tramples on a snake. A few days later, Rajeev who’s now strangely drawn towards the old mansion and keeps visiting it, meets a mysterious girl, Rajani (Sridevi). Rajeev finds that he is becoming obsessed with thoughts of Rajani. Who is Rajani and what is the future of Rajeev’s and Rajani’s future?
Nagina is a rare product from the 80s. The Bollywood movies from the 1980s tended to have a lot of either violent romantic/tragic storylines or just violent action storylines. Nagina is set apart from its counterparts by the fact it is neither action nor romance driven. Nagina relies on neither romance nor action to drive its story – it instead relies on mystery. In fact I would draw strong parallels with Nagina and Gulzar’s Lekin (1990), but imagine a more enjoyable and less serious mystery movie.
The central draw for Nagina is the mystery the movie produces. However Nagina is not totally immune to bad elements of 80s films. It has your normal over the top acting, expectedly bad sound FXs but oh how I loved the songs! I especially LOVED Sridevi & Rishi in ‘Balma Tum Balma Ho’ where Sridevi performs her snake dancing! It’s a song that was fun and catchy to watch. I must admit i did like all the songs in the movie. Luckily though the choreography does not suffer from the 80s.
Ok so the biggest downfall for this movie could be the absolutely ludicrous storyline! A snake woman? By the end of the movie the story had reached ridiculous heights of absurdity. But its strange – i didn’t care! I totally enjoyed it and if you suspend your belief you might get sucked into the movie like I did. Another downside is it is quite slow at first, which may deter people from watching the rest but it picks up at the hour mark.
So no I would not say the ridiculous storyline is the biggest downfall of Nagina. At first it was the painfully bad and dragging comedy provided by Jagdeep, which i disliked most about the film. Thank goodness it eases up by later on in the movie. Also to provide some relief from the bad intentional comedy, is the action scenes in the movie. They are so unintentionally laugh out loud funny! But they are harmless enough and don’t affect how i feel about this film – i chalk it up to Nagina being ‘a product of its time’. But they are quite funny to watch. Especially Amrish Puri’s over the top snake charmer character. He does some hilarious close ups. But I think overall the biggest let down of Nagina was its very rushed and poorly executed ending.
One thing I can say about Nagina – is I finally get the fuss about Sridevi! Sridevi provides her character ‘Rajni’ with the necessary ethereal and mysterious qualities that her character needs to posses. I must say that Sridevi’s character in this is my favourite so far. I’ve seen her in Chandni, Mr India, Chaand Ka Tukdaa (awful!) & and although i’ve never hated her, i never saw what the big deal with her was about. Often her characters were hyper or too weak for my liking. Nagina at least has helped me to look forward to seeing more of her films, she definitely made an impression on me in this film. Even though i wouldn’t say this movie is great for advancing anyones acting careers!
I have less impressive things to say about Rishi Kapoor. Although he is not awful in the movie, he doesn’t add to the movie at all providing viewers with a largely adequate acting job. His greatest strength in the movie is his chemistry and interactions with Sridevi. The pair are most known for their Yash Copra classic ‘Chandni’ (1989). But of course 3 years before Chandni there was Nagina. I think the chemistry between Rishi & Sridevi is just as good in Chandni as it is in Nagina, also on the positive side Rishi’s character is much less annoying and does not have epileptic fit inducing sweaters like in Chandni.
Overall Score: 3.5/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – Overall its a totally ridiculous film, thats all about Sridevi and that is just fun to watch. So switch off your brains and hopefully you will enjoy watching Bollywood’s snake movie!