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Snakes in Movies
Nagina (1986)
Spoiler Alert !

Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
Nagina Nagina Nagina
Nagina Nagina Nagina
Nagina Nagina Nagina
Nagina Nagina Nagina
Nagina Nagina
This is the best Indian snake-woman movie I've seen so far. It actually holds up well as a movie, and not just as a novelty snake movie with music and dancing. Indian snake movies are nothing without a charismatic dancing snake woman, and this one stars the best of them all, an amazingly beautiful big-eyed actress, Sridvi, as the snake Rajini. She marries Raju, a wealthy young heir who comes back home after 15 years away. It takes almost half of the movie before it is revealed that Rajini is a snake shape-shifter. Until then she is just a mysterious ghost-like woman. But as events unfold, we learn that her first intentions were to kill Raju, in revenge for the death of her snake mate, who bit Raju when he was a six-year-old boy then died after a holy man put a spell on him to bring Raju back to life. When Raju returns home, Rajini follows him to his house where she experiences human love for the first time, between him and his mother. This makes her change her mind about killing him and she decides to be the perfect wife and protect Raju from everyone who tried to harm him, including his mother who fears his snake woman wife and the same greedy holy man who saved him from the snake bite but who later needs to kill Raju in order to gain unworldly power. There are some red herrings that try to take the movie in different directions but they never derail the main plot of the virtuous snake woman Rajini and her fight to protect her human husband. The movie climaxes with a great song and dance where the holy man and his desciples play their snake-charming flutes and seduce Rajini into dancing for them, crawling on the floor, and hooding her hands up like a cobra. This dance eventually causes the desctruction of the snake woman in most movies, but this time it is interrupted by her husband, who smacks her out of jealousy, and the snake woman survives to be freed from her snake form to live on as a human. If you didn't quite understand that, the last shot makes sure you do, by telling us right up on screen that they lived happily ever after. You can watch the climactic dance on YouTube.

Nagina nicely avoids some of the typical low-budget effects found in many Indian snake woman movies, including the double-exposure effect where a snake dissolves out as a woman dissolves in, or vice versa, to show us the shape shifting taking place. Here, we only see a slow double-exposure of a cobra in front of Rajini's face to hint at the transformation. Throughout the movie we see several cobras, sither Rajini or agents of Rajini, as they bite bad guys to death and even help Raju to find an important documet at his office.
Nagina Nagina Nagina
Nagina Nagina Nagina
Raju is shot while fighting some hired thugs. He is lying in a hospital bed when the holy man sends "The Snake King" to kill him. But Rajini is there and turns into her snake form and fights the Snake King. This fight is shown to us as a real fight between two snakes. The snakes bite onto each other and wrestle around the floor until one emerges victorious and the other remains as a bloody corpse on the floor (which I don't show here.) As far as I can tell, that is the actual outcome of the fight. The winning snake is a cobra, but I'm not sure of the species of the loser.