India ,  2004
Directed by Kishan Shah.
A complete rip off of the classic 1976 film Nagin. While it isn't quite scene-for-scene, a la Gus Van Sant's PSYCHO, it is pretty damn close. As if pretending otherwise, the movie opens with a disclaimer that "All the characters in this film are fictitious and bear no resemblance to any communities, person living or dead." I half expected the disclaimer to also state, "And the film is nothing like NAGIN. Really, we're being totally serious." The director even puts his name above the title, so it reads, "Kishan Shah's PYAASI NAGIN," as if putting his name in front somehow helps him own the material.
The story, familiar to viewers of NAGIN, is this: a writer saves a snake man in the woods, who tells him about when he's about to meet his mate. The writer gathers up a group of his friends to peep on them, but when the snake man turns into a cobra, one of the guys shoots it, thinking he is saving the girl from being bit. Not quite, though, since she's a snake woman, and they've just murdered her boyfriend. So, she hunts them down, one by one, and murders them.
The story is told in a completely perfunctory way, this time out, since I suppose the director assumes everyone knows the story already. He skips rationalizing any of it, making sense of any of it, and providing any kind of character for any of the victims to be, again I suppose assuming the previous movie had already done that. Which makes this remake completely pointless, and much, much, worse.
How much does this movie follow NAGIN? Well, lets take a look at a couple scenes.
First, the novelist saves the snake man, and asks, "How do you survive out here?" From the 1976 movie:
From this one:
Not even the songs are original, with several of the tracks lifted directly from NAGIN. The only difference between the two movies during those points, is that in this new one, there is a quick shot of a boom box sitting nearby. I guess this is meant to suggest that the characters in this movie aren't singing, the songs from NAGIN just happened to be playing on the radio nearby.
[IMAGE: "Hey, let's listen to the soundtrack of NAGIN while a snake woman dances outside, OK?"]
PYAASI NAGIN has the feel of a home movie copy of a classic that some dudes put together for a laugh and uploaded onto Youtube. The cast is uncharismatic, goofy looking, and a bit on the hefty side, even for Bollywood. And the dancing is seriously bad. How bad? How about one more comparison.
The snake people cavorting, circa 1976:
And in 2004:
[Shudder.] Theoretically, PYAASI NAGIN could be good for a laugh, but it really isn't. It is so tirelessly derivative that it offers nothing new of any interest.
Posted by Peter Nepstad on April 21, 2008.