Bollywood actors with their flashing eyes (read Sridevi) and glittering ensembles (Rekha/ Jitendra) have always managed to deliver a pretty impactful snake or naagin dance.
What you might not know is that they lost the game quite a while ago to a certain American actress.
In 1959, The Indian Tomb, a German-French-Italian film directed by Fritz Lang revealed Debra Paget’s Indian avatar as a snake dancer. And it’s quite a slinky performance too; with very little (err) snakeskin, and some pretty undulating moves.
When it comes to rating authenticity, the Indian Goddess (the only thing more voluptuous than Paget in the video) pretty much nails it. The yogis sitting in pristine white do not (although to be fair, Bollywood has showcased even stranger things in their videos -- check out Danny Denzongpa below). The only things Indian about Paget are her bindi and parandhi.
There's really not much to say about her choice of, well, clothing-- except that it does a wonderful job of defying gravity, and could possibly play muse for Indian beachwear designers Shivan & Narresh.
Elevating heart rate levels aside, Paget's performance also sends one tripping down memory lane to revisit other Indian snake dance performances in B'town, and then compare them to the American actresses' undulating version.
Like how, Paget's outfit may be non-existent, but it certainly looks more appealing than some of the Indian-produced costumes. Take Jeetendra who was also clad in blindingly shimmery attire matched with (wait for it) gold heels!
Paget's sinuous dance movements lose their lustre in front of Waheda Rahman's brilliant performance in Guide (1965) starring Dev Anand:
And Rekha's dancing in Sheshnag, while not as acrobatic as Paget's, has its own charm (her outfit may not). At least the former's snake is more believable (Paget's parandhi does a much better imitation of a serpent). What's not is villain Danny Denzongpa's ability to separate his head from his body to avoid some potent venom shots.
Indian Tomb's 'fearsome' snake:
Danny Denzongpa putting Matrix's Neo to shame:
This was possibly Mallika Sherawat's reaction at finding out she'd been bested several years ago: