24 March, 2012

Agent Vinod : Of Commonwealth Bond’s, Few Thrills, No Chills and Many Frills

Movie-making can be and often is a story stranger & grittier than the movie itself…..

Disclaimer: The entire scene is a figment of the writers imagination and is nothing but a leading account to the making of the movie. If that's the way it happened then its a mere coincidence and the same can take him into a soothsayers realm.

Prelude: Circa, Many years ago…in between two epoch making events , the successful release of “Ek Haseena Thhi and the formation of a new company called “Illuminati Films Pvt Ltd”

Hello, is it Sriram?…Saif here. EHT has been good and want to make some movies on my own now. Was thinking of you at the helm of a few projects, Oh OK so you are in? I won’t take a NO later, have even identified a script, shall discuss details when we catch up. Take care.

Few days later a flabbergasted and horrified Sriram Raghavan and a benign Saif sporting an almost beatific smile are found sitting across a table on which is lying a tacky looking CD of the movie “Agent Vinod ". With a start he looks behind Saif and sees the date 1st April on the wall calendar and with a relieved sigh gets his smile back.
Oh Boy ,Saif you can sure pull a mean prank, you almost got me there. For a moment I thought you were serious.
Now its Saif’s turn to be startled...Abbey *#@@**%$ What the *@#$$%#* you talking about?
Sriram points to the CD…this, I seriously expected you thought I would be making a movie remake of this one.
Saif well behaved at most times has a bad case of mercury rising yet manages to control it and starts stalking the room, "But of course I am *%$#@##$%& serious.
But why, wails the director, why this movie,why now, why me and in that budget…Do you even know who played the lead in this one ? I for one don’t…see its its...some Mahendra Sandhu and who had produced it, looking back at the CD jacket, OMG Rajashree Productions? Whatever possessed the Barjatya’s to do it? Sri…Sri…Saif says in a placating manner, understand it that this movie was a hit then, now why don’t you go home have a long drink of cold Chhaas. Mor or whatever the *%$#$ you chaps call your buttermilk, see the movie and then come back.

A few more days later, a resigned Sriram and Saifu are found sitting down again.
Sriram: This is tacky beyond shape, I just wont be able to make it the way it’s done here. Now we are talking said an enthusiastic Saif. Tell me what do you like in the movie?
Sriram rolls his eyes up and mutters…nothing…Saif glare stops him from going further…OK, I kind of like the idea of an Indian secret agent. Yes, it has patriotic potential says Saif. I like the idea of the girls and though Rehana Sultana was not so bad we wont get anyone as flashy and downmarket as Sheetal anymore. Great says Saif…the Barjatyas looked at the lowest common denominator we shall aim high. Our movie would be classy with loads of babes, great looking ones at that. The car chases on dusty roads are good but not what we cant do now because of so much construction happening across the country there are no villages in India anymore. What did you say the budget was? Now Saif distinctly has a sparkle in his eyes knowing fully well that the director is hooked. Expense is no problem. Because people expect Car chases and flashy cars, we definitely have to make them believable. It is impossible to make people believe the speedometer can go beyond 30 km per hour on Indian urban city roads with traffic and potholes.

We shall spread across Europe. Shall we select the countries? Sriram looks to find some darts on the table and a map of Europe stuck on a cork-board hung on the wall.There are seven darts in all & they find their marks. see how easy it was says Saif, now that the location problem is mutually and amicably sorted out, what about the babes?
Will you ask Bebo ? ( Kareena ) She is the one you are with these days aren’t you? asks Sriram.
Saif freezes him with a look. I was not looking at her as my personal and professional lives are separate. That's why I signed Deepika for the first release of this production house. Now I don't want her again. It is a minor issue, we shall have it lined up and addressed later.

See now ,when two people are reasonable what can't they not achieve, Saif's normal grammar takes some unexpected turn in his excitement. We have practically finished the film here...right here on the table Sriram, all that remains is the shooting, lets just give it a once over and make a checklist
  1. Remake of "Agent Vinod" only more sexier, more stylish with the unique Sriram Raghavan feel.
  2. The agent will need to have some legitimacy so we can make him an agent of either the Indian army or the RAW…we shall toss for that later. ( Keep a coin handy for the decision making.Saif scribbles this note down at the side)
  3. India –Pakistan, nuclear bomb ( basic ingredients)
  4. Bomb Logistics : Bomb moving from place to place. So we take the audience through the logistics of the complete cycle of Bomb procurement to Bomb Destination
  5. Car Chases, minimum 2 and maximum 5( contact a Logistics company for an in-cinema sponsorship )
  6. Ok lets settle on Two car chases, One motorbike ride, One plane or chopper sequence, yeah I guess that should do ( Harley Davidson is making noises of entering India...approach them for free bikes and sponsorship)
  7. Action : has to be gritty, real, fights choreographed perfection like the ones in Jason Bourne movies.
  8. Guns and arms , loads of them
  9. Babes…Sriram votes for Kareena, Saif is non-committal and says we need at least one more woman part with real lines . Essential ingredient lots of cleavage and designer dresses. ( This portion nearly pushed the time line by 3 years because Bebo was a size sero then and it would be another 4 years before she could muster up some physiological material for a real cleavage)
  10. Music …for remakes it has to be – Pritam, his sounds are refreshingly international and shall be familiar to all the countries we finally release the movie in.
OK then let’s get the act going. We shall rock their pants off.

Present Day – Review of the movie.

A sniffling Kareena who cries when they are passing her old home in Karachi is told by a stern faced Saif, “ agar tumhari Yaadon Ki baraat khatam ho gayi to…aagey sochey’ The tone is droll and the sense of humour is distinctly evident and its Indian. But is this Bond meets Ethan hunt meet Jason bourne meet Mahendra Sandhu actually there? Yes it is.

Saif in and as Agent Vinod is on fire. Writer-Directors Sriram Raghavan’s vision has transported the humdrum Agent Vinod of the late seventies into the jet age and spread him across the geography of the globe. This is as much as can be said about the ‘Bond’ness of the film. Its spread is its weakest link too as in addressing all the issues related to Inidanness – Pakistani agents not to be demonized ( so we have Bilal, Iram, Parveen played by a Kareena Kapoor looking glorious) The director does his absolute best and it is evident when you look at the scenes individually. Each scene is filmed superbly, the cut the ethos around the scene magnificent yet while the scene has loads of depth, cohesively across the length of the movie these scenes don’t seem to come together and fit seamlessly into a plot that at once heightens the viewing pleasure of an adrenaline starved audience. This experience remains flat.

The movie has superb locales and its in the first twenty minutes that the movie rises and reaches a peak and from then on the peaks are never breached. Reverting back and paying tribute to Hindi cinema of the seventies in the frame building is a style that is adopted by todays filmmakers and Raghavan is no exception. He uses it liberally. There is one point where the good cinematic quotient reaches a high and achieves greatness that is in the song Raabta, its filming is pure genius. Maryam Zakaria as the second …if Bond girls are called Bond girls should we call her “Vinod’ girl is saucy and sultry. The rest of the star cast is a study in caricatural villainy and a throwaway to the tacky version from which this remakes finds its roots, this includes the scorpion tattoos sported by each villainous gang member.

Yet as films go this movie still is worth a watch. It is technically very sharp and performances when not over the top are generally good. Saif is what makes the movie watchable, his bearing throughout the movie is superb and he is throughout in character. Does this have a potential for a sequel ??? Most definitely.
Only the second time around in the checklist if the Actor-Producer and the Writer–Director instead of an item number ( Mika's voice has mischief in the catchy rhythmic Pungi song, though Saif struggles through it ) they include STORY/PLOT somewhere higher up in the order, it would certainly be something to look forward to.


Soul Images said...

Clap ... clap .... clap! Take a bow Kau! Loved the narration and the re-cap.... If Saif has any challenge in finding good stories and scripts, he need not run far, with you around ;)

Especially considering that you watched the 1st half and better part of the balance movie with closed eyes to the hmmmm of your own voice! LOL

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

Lolol...Danke fraulein