Ummm?? Hindi snake women? Yep… India has a long tradition of movies featuring the fertility spirit/ goddess “Naagin” and recently yet another version, this time written and directed by American Jennifer Lynch, has been added to that long list of films. I’ve heard about this one for a while, and even though most reviews I read don’t exactly make it sound like the best “East meets West” collaboration going, I’ve been curious about it since the first stills and teasers hit the internet about a year ago.
The synopsis for it goes like this: “Legend says that Immortality can be gained by he who is able to seize the mystic diamond, the Naagmani, from she who holds it, the Goddess Nagin, but only if you risk her terrible wrath.
A foolish American, armed with guns and science, seeks a cure for his terminal cancer by kidnapping the cobra lover of the Serpent Goddess bringing down her vengeful curse on all who stand between her and that which she seeks to recover.
Can a rational policeman become a believer? Can he stop the killings or only become a victim himself? What will be the outcome when myth meets the Modern world?”
Neko has never let a few bad reviews stand between her and some tasty bit of cinema fantasy, so naturally I grabbed up a copy as soon as one became available. Think sexy snake women on the rampage might be up your alley as well? Guess you’ll want to “Read On” then and find out all about this one then, eh?
So… to start with it’s fair to say that the Hindi entertainment press haven’t been exactly gushing with praise for this one. Many refer to this as possibly the single worse film to come out of India… ever. Now, Neko’s seen some Hindi films… some really terrible… horrible….really embarrassingly bad films. This couldn’t possibly be worse than those now could it? My initial impression was that much of the distast Hindi audiences had for it was the fact that “Hisss” might be a film made in India… but it’s not really a Hindi film. Oh… it has a Hindi Lead Actress… mostly Hindi supporting actors and is based on an ancient Hindi legend… but there precious little about this film that really ends up feeling like it should be one.
Much of their dislike is probably due to the lack of the usual musical component present in most Hindi productions. There’s really only 2 songs in this one…. One used as part of a village festival scene, but without the flashy choreography and Busby Berkley style MTV antics, and the other a simple end-credit song. Ahhh… and then there’s the nudity. Not surprisingly the rather tame (at least by Western standards) nudity used had many calling this one “perverted” or “pornography for sick adolescents”. It’s not anything like that… It’s mostly silly to be honest, with my favorite goofy moment being Naagin stripping down to slither her naked little butt up a streetlight pole to take a nap. Hilarious….
So what about the story? Well, it’s easy enough to get. We have the token American rich guy George States (What a stupid name…. For this goofy choice alone, Jennifer Lynch should apologize) dying of Cancer who decides that chasing ancient legends isn’t the desperate Fool’s Errand one might think. Nope, and he’s willing to kill henchmen, kidnap wildlife, and risk the vengeance of a Goddess if it means he might dodge the bullet that Fate seems to have coming for him. First though, the legend stipulates that Naagin has to take on Human form to hunt down the men who have seized her mate. OK… I suppose there have been goofier legendary requirements. At least she ends up as sexy and alluring Mallika Sherawat. Starting to sound sorta familiar? Yep…. Neko saw something very similar early this year in the Thai film “Deep In The Jungle”… but done much, much better. That’s a shame too, because there’s a lot of possibility here, just not a lot of action or story to make it hang together.
Our snake girl spends most of the movie wandering about transforming back and forth between human and giant cobra killing thugs, rapists, and any other dumbass stupid enough to try to get in her way… meanwhile our stalwart cop is always two steps behind her. His problem? Well, he’s distracted by the personal problems he’s having with his wife not being able to successfully carry a child to term for them, his senile mother-in-law who keeps thinking he’s a woman and an eager new partner who he has to “bring along” as a favor to an old friend. Add that to his total disbelief in any mystical answer to the murders he’s investigating, and you’ll soon be smacking your forehead with frustration too.
There are some good things here. The Special Effects really are pretty good, and the makeup and prosthetic used with some reasonable CG make the idea of a shapeshifting Snake Goddess believable. Mallika Sherawat certainly looks the part… but is weirdly mute throughout the entire film. Huh? You’re “Divine”… Immortal… able to change shape magically… but learning to speak a human language is out of your league? Really not a believable notion. But… shy of wanting to empathize with humans, why would she want to talk anyway? Hmmm? Maybe to be able to ask questions to simplify her search for the dumb evil white guy that stole her snakey boyfriend? This single plot element is probably my one biggest irritation with the movie.
I guess you are sensing that Neko is a bit disappointed overall with “Hisss”. You’d be right. I can unfortunately only give this one a mere 2 “Meows” out of 5… and you have to remember… I actually like bad movies. That should tell you how disjointed and unsatisfying this one really is. A shame… because the overall idea behind it is sound. I’m hoping this doesn’t help end the collaboration between Western filmmakers and Bollywood in the future though. Even though “Hisss” didn’t really gel as a winner, there’s no reason that such a fusion of ideas and film styles can’t work in the future. Just keep at it. Don’t worry… I’ll keep watching. (I’m that goofy a girl, I guess…)
The DVD for this one is an odd bird. I’m used to finding Hindi film on Region Free NTSC formatted discs with or with without English subtitles, but usually with them. Once in a great while they come in PAL format, not surprising given the Indian TV standard is PAL, I believe. This one, by Shemaroo…. while marketed as Region Free where I bought it, is in actuality a Region 5 PAL formatted disc so be aware of this if you find a copy. It wasn’t a problem for your favorite movie lovin’ Catgirl reviewer thanks to my Region Free player, but might annoy those of you without that option. Accurate English subtitles are present, and the “Making of” feature is completely in English language… a nice surprise. It’s probably done this way to preserve the possibility of a Region 1 release turning up eventually, but given how bad a reputation it’s gotten, I wouldn’t wait around for that to happen if you’ve got anything else important to do.
A Trailer? Yep…. Neko’s got ya all covered here with the international release Trailer… subtitled of course… for your very own sexy snake goddess viewing pleasure.