|Nagin, 1954 popular Bollywood film based on snake charmer & his romance|
|Pungi or Bin used by snake charmers of India.www.slideshare.net|
As we are aware now, snakes don't have ears and lack hearing capability. As such, you can't charm a deaf snake by playing a wind instrument before it. The usage, snake-charming is a misnomer as it does not have anything to do with charming the deadly snake. You can not control the movement of a live cobra by playing a jazz tune - ''Chattanooga choo, choo'' in big band style or ''peanut vendor'' in tango style. However, snakes like cobras can pick up ground vibrations easily, based on which they move around in search of prey. On several occasions I heard people from villages and hill places tell me that they saw stray snakes in the houses near the wooded areas in the hilly regions. On request or emergency call, the snake charmer or catcher came there with his standard bin instrument, mumbled some ''mantras'' while playing the instrument. The snake or snakes, hidden in the house, automatically came before him, raised the hood and swayed following the player's hand movement. He effortlessly caught the snakes in a short time, kept them safely in a basket and went away with the subdued snake that was in a state of stupor. The snake catcher was cool and collected, whereas the the people in the house were really tense and scared.
Snake song and movie:
The famous Hindi movie "Nagin'' ( 1954) - Vyjayanthimala-Predeep Kumar starer was a very popular movie for its mesmerizing snake song "Man Dole Mera Tan.'' The heroine Vyjayanthimala, a well-known actress from Tamil Nadu and a great 'Bharata Natyam' exponent, became more popular after this movie. This movie was more a romance than a thriller. This film is about the heroine Vyjayanthimala, a jungle lass who fell in love with a snake charmer (Pradeep Kumar) and how they solved the hurdles caused by their tribes who were on the war path.. This well-known Hindi film was dubbed in many Indian languages. For several years all over India at social functions, playing this particular song was a must. This song became a theme of India's snake charmers in those days when they ran 'sidewalk shows'(in the olden days the streets were almost free with fewer motor vehicles and people) before a tense, motley crowd. when they opened the basket, the lethal reptile cobra would raise his head in defense initially and then later sway beautifully as if he liked the tune very much. When the film was shown in the theaters, the owners would bring the snake charmers to the theater compound for the fans to listen to a session of music and 'live snake dance.'It was a sort of promotional gimmick that worked well.
This immortal old movie song set to music by great Hemanta Kumar, Music director still lingers in the heart of old timers and compel them to go on a short trip down the memory lane.