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Film / Hisss

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Hisss, aka Nagin: The Snake Woman is a 2010 adventure-horror Bollywood film directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch based on the Far Eastern myth of the snake woman who is able to take on human form. It has attracted wildly divergent reviews and critical opinions.

Mallika Sherawat plays the leading role.

George States (Jeff Doucette), is a wealthy American man with only a few months left to live as a result of encroaching brain cancer comes to India with a plan: to capture one of a pair of Naga, magical shapeshifting cobras so that he can force the spouse left behind to give him the Naagmani, the magical jewel these serpents guard which can be used to grant him Immortality.

He succeeds in his plans and captures a Naga male, causing its Nagini bride (played by Mallika Sherawat) to come in search of her mate, going on a rampage against all the evil-doers who fall in her path and comes to the rescue of the exploited and abused women she comes across. Chasing her scaly and venom-littered trail is a police inspector Vikram Gupta (Irrfan Khan) who doesn't know whether to believe in science or mythology.

This film includes examples of:

  • Artistic Licence – Biology: Nagini regurgitates her first human victim after she's done digesting him. Although snakes can throw up, the film implies that this expulsion is a pellet (essentially, dung, but thrown up rather than excreted). Snakes don't produce pellets.
  • Bad Boss: George States is extremely cruel to his hired help, even killing a few of them when they refuse or are scared to obey his orders.
  • Balloon Belly: One of the film's most notorious moments, being one of the earliest shots of it leaked, is Nagini, halfway between forms (scaly belly, a snake's tail for one leg), lying in bed with her hand sprawled after a huge, pregnant-looking gut. This is the result of her devouring at least one, and possibly both, of her attempted rapists early in the film.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: One of George's Mooks is so terrified of the Nagini's revenge that he's Driven to Suicide, preferring shoot himself than to be devoured by her.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Despite having no knowledge of contemporary civilization, constantly being on the wild, and indulging in the occasional carnage, the Nagini always manages to have perfect hair and makeup.
  • Big Bad: George States, the American who starts this whole mess by kidnapping the Nag.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Both Vikram's partner and Nagini's mate end up dying in the final confrontation, but Nagini has Someone to Remember Him By and Vikram and his wife finally manage to conceive a child.
  • Black Comedy:
    • After Nagini swallows one (or both) of her attempted rapists, we see her lounging contentedly in her would-be assailant's bed as she sleeps off her meal.
    • The police officer who gets involved in the story does so after having to poke through Nagini's dung after her initial human repast, complete with her victim's cellphone still ringing in the pile of crap.
  • Body Horror: Nagini's various "partially snake" forms are diffuse and often quite nightmarish in their inept blending of reptilian and human trait.
  • Bullying a Dragon: George’s plan is to essentially blackmail a man-eating, shapeshifting snake monster into giving him a cure for his cancer. It ends about as well as you’d expect.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Nagini's mate and Vikram's partner both die in their arms, due to injuries sustained by the fight with George.
  • Eagleland: Type two — George States is a racist, abusive, vicious, ruthless, all-around despicable individual who pretty much plays "Evil White Guy" to a degree even Indian viewers wince at.
  • Electric Torture: George States repeatedly does this to his captured Naga, just for fun. When the Nagini takes vengeance, he's subjected to the same treatment when the Nagini throws him into his own chamber to be electrocuted alive.
  • Feminist Fantasy: The Nagini goes on a rampage against the men who abuse women during her time on the village, such as sexual predators, rapists, and wife-beaters.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Since Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing, the Nagini is always nude during her fight scenes, but is covered by her scales that appear on her body during the transformations.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: The first thing the Nagini does upon rescuing her mate is to make love with him... while she's still in human form. It mostly involves the snake suggestively slithering between her legs as she has The Modest Orgasm.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: George captures and holds the Nagini's mate in a glass cage in the hopes that she will attempt a rescue, and he will then release it in exchange for the Nagamani.
  • Humanity Ensues: The Nagini is able to transform into a Head-Turning Beauty human, with only her reptile eyes hinting at her true nature.
  • Immortality Seeker: George States is after the Nagmani to cure his cancer and to grant him Immortality.
  • Invisibility Cloak: During his confrontation with Nagini, George wears a suit that hides his heat signature, rendering him invisible to her.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: George and his thugs capture the Nagini's lover while they were in the middle of mating.
  • Jerkass Victim: Pretty much everyone that Nagini kills has it coming. Rapists, abusers, and the men who kidnapped and tortured her husband.
  • Karmic Death: George States is electrocuted to death in the cage he kept Nag imprisoned inside and tortured him with.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Loud music weakens the Nagini considerably, George even specifically calls it "her kryptonite".
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Vikram and his wife Maya have a strained relationship due to her infertility.
  • MacGuffin: The Nagmani, known as "The stone of Immortality" that is carried by the Nagini and sought by the villain.
  • Male Gaze: Nagini is frequently subject to this, with the came often zooming in on her human body, especially her legs.
  • Naked on Arrival: The Nagini's human form sheds out of her snakeskin without any clothes on, obviously meant to represent a "birth" metaphor, but it's also heavily played for Fanservice.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Virkram's mother-in-law constantly and unfairly pesters him, blaming him for Maya being infertile.
  • One-Word Title: Hisss
  • Ms. Fanservice: Nagini's human form is a Head-Turning Beauty that frequently ends up nude and those scenes are often played as gratuitous Fanservice. Although the nudity is never explicit, being censored by strategic camera placement, Godiva Hair or Censor Shadow, with the most flesh shown being Shoulders-Up Nudity or Toplessness from the Back shots.
    • Nagini is Naked on Arrival when she sheds her skin and turns into a human, with only the mud covering her body preserving her modesty. She then goes Skinny Dipping until she happens upon some other girls bathing and steals their clothing.
    • One scene at night, Nagini takes off all her clothing and climbs up a lamp post to sleep in the nude, with the way she's climbing being reminiscent of a stripper's pole dancing.
    • During the scene where she visits an underground cave, she once again goes Skinny Dipping, and emerges from the water in a Sexy Surfacing Shot when surfacing in the cave, clad only in Godiva Hair.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Vikram covers Nagini in one after freeing her George's net, being much more concerned about her modesty than she is.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Nagini's first kills are two men who thought she was an ordinary woman and tried to rape her. She also takes time off of her search for her husband and his kidnappers to kill rapists and domestic abusers, with her only female victim being a woman who runs a shelter for women and secretly takes bribes from men to turn a blind eye to their raping the women there.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Zigzagged. Yes, Nagini kills a lot of people, and in rather hideous ways involving painfully biting them to death or eating them, but the people she's doing to it pretty much all deserve it, and she takes pains not to hurt anyone who isn't guilty of abusing women or attacking her and her mate. Furthermore, the Naga are sought after by the film's Big Bad because they hold a magical jewel that grants healing, and he wants to force them to surrender it to him.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The whole plot of the story: a magical shapeshifting giant she-cobra hunts down the men who kidnapped her mate, pausing only to take revenge on various abusive men on behalf of women as she does so.
  • Snakes Are Sexy: A lot of the Nagini's scenes are played for Fanservice, even when she's half-transformed into her snake-form.
  • Shower Scene: Vikram is shown showering while thinking about the strange murders happening around town.
  • Snake People: The Naga, who can shift between the forms of regular and giant cobras, humans, or any combination in between.
  • Swallowed Whole: Nagini eats a number of her victims this way. If they're lucky, she crushes or bites them to death first.
  • The Voiceless: Despite being able to take a human form, the Nagini is unable to speak.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: George is suffering from the last stages of brain cancer and has only six months to live, and his motive for seeking the Nagmani to cure him and grant him Immortality.