Naag Panchami is here, and it is time to pay tribute to the platform that has given snakes the most recognition in this country – Bollywood.
Snake films have been an important genre in Bollywood, surprisingly, all these films released in a gap of 6 years – 1986 to 1991. It was a time when Bollywood was obsessed with snakes, who were obsessed with revenge.
We take a look at the greatest snake movies ever made in Bollywood. Brace yourself, this is going hissssstoric!
1. VISHKANYA (1991)
Starring Kunal Goswamy and Pooja Bedi, Vishkanya is the story of an evil ganglord who skins snakes and smuggles them. There is an honest forest officer with a hot wife, and they both get killed by the villains.
Their daughter is adopted by a villager, who gives her snake venom to sleep easily. Surprise, surprise, she becomes a VISHKANYA.
She goes about extracting revenge from her parents’ killers. Why? Her Vish!
The heroine goes on to kill all her parents’ killers, cos she works at the Make a Vish Foundation.
2. SHESHNAAG (1990)
Starring Jitendra, Rishi Kapoor, Rekha, and Madhavi, Sheshnaag is a film that is based in a village, so the characters have names like Bhola and Champa. The Chief Villain is a megalomaniac aghori, who, like all Bollywood villains of that time, begins the film with a Statement of Purpose.
What follows is a barrage of bad songs, terrible graphics, and at the end, the film comes to a grueling halt when all the villains are dead, and the snakes (unlike in the real world) live happily ever after.
3. HISSSSSS (2010)
The only modern film to make it to our list, Hissss is so annoying a film, that it could pissssss you off.
Directed by the daughter of legendary David Lynch, Hissss is the story of an evil scientist who has brain cancer. For a cure, he decides to entrap a snake and steal her Naagmani. To do this, he captures her lover and tortures him.
Mallika Sherawat follows her lover, finds the scientist, and kills him. On the way, she is helped by Irrfan Khan who needed some money at the time, and in the end the scientist is electrocuted to death.
4. NAGINA (1986)
Starring Rishi Kapoor and Sridevi, Nagina is the story of an orphan Rajni (nice name choice, Mind it!), who falls in love with Rishi Kapoor. However, as we know, snakes can’t fall in love with humans and live happily.
So evil tantric Bhairo Nath (Amrish Puri) shows up. Bhairo Nath wants the Naagmani, and will have it under any circumstances. He makes his disciples sing a snake song, and lo and behold, Sridevi turns into a snake then and there. But she is not willing to give Amrish Puri the Mani.
Naagin was the biggest hit of the year, and the songs and costumes of the film became a standard for Bollywood snake films ever since.
5. NAACHE NAAGIN GALI GALI (1990)
Starring Nitish Bharadwaj (who played Krishna in Mahabharata) as the hero opposite Meenakshi Sheshadri. So basically, he went from dancing on top of a snake, to dancing with a snake.
The story is of a snake couple who sing a song and dance, till they are captured by a tantric who wants the…(Guess? Guess??) MANI!!
The film was a flop of Vishwaroop proportions, and Nitish Bharadwaj didn’t take up too many hero projects after this film. You know what they say, Once bitten, twice shy!
6. TUM MERE HO (1990)
Starring Aamir Sensitive Khan, Tum Mere Ho shows us a side of Aamir Khan we didn’t know existed.
He plays a snake charmer who falls in love with a girl from a different caste. He is a womanizer, and spends much of his time between snakes and pretty women.
He is at war with society, his parents, and logic. Finally, the couple win their love. Cos, as we know, in snake films, it is always – Snakameva Jayate!
7. JAANI DUSHMAN (1979)
No, this is not the film that was immortalized by Pretentious Movie Reviews.
In fact, the same director made a film with the same name and story, two decades ago. Jaani Dushman is the story of a serial killer who has a fetish for newly wed brides. He kidnaps them on their wedding night and does stuff to them.
Turns out, the villain was Sanjeev Kumar, one of the best actors of his generation.
The film’s cast reads like a list of Bollywood daaru party attendees – Sunil Dutt, Rekha, Shatrughan Sinha, Sanjeev Kumar, Neetu Singh, Jeetendra, Reena Roy, Vinod Mehra, Aruna Irani, Madan Puri, Amrish Puri, Shakti Kapoor and Premnath.
8. NIGAHEN (Nagina Part 2) – 1989
Nigahen was Bollywood’s first sequel, taking off from where Nagin ended.
The film starred Sunny Deol as a lovelorn young man, and Sridevi made a comeback as Snakewoman.
This time, there is a new Tantrik in town, Anupam Kher, whose name is Gorakh Nath. Gorakh Nath has only purpose in life, to secure the Mani. I don’t understand what is the deal with these Manis. Why can’t these tantriks just lead honest lives and use their skill to earn some money?
The film was a huge flop, and Sridevi didn’t do any more snake films after this. Which is sad, because some of those songs were rather hot!
9. NAAG – NAGIN (1989)
Starring Rajiv Kapoor and Mandakini, after their super-duper hit Ram Teri Ganga Maili, Naag-Nagin was the biggest flop of the year.
Yet another story of estranged snake lovers who are united through vengeance and generous amounts of shape-shifting snakes seducing the bad guys, Naag – Nagin failed to create a buzz hiss at the Box Office.
Those were the greatest Bollywood snake films of all time. However, during my research for the article, I realized there are five universal snake truths that apply to all snake films:
1. The villain will always identify a snake-woman when he sees her.
2. If you play the been, the snake can’t resist dancing to your tunes. Ichhadhaari is just a tag, it’s not really under her control.
3. Snakes have photographic memories that last years, decades, and generations.
4. Snake love stories will always have a tantric to play spoilsport, who is obsessed with the Mani.
5. If you meet a girl at a party, and she takes you home, gives you a drink, and dances for you, beware! She is a snake!