While I try desperately to come up with a title which references a another spy film, the extensive research tabs on my browser count up to five, if only Sriram Raghavan would also write his own review he would have come up with titles, multiple variations of ‘Never say never again’. But he keeps it simple here, a direct reference to a 1977 film which I know I can watch entirely on you tube.
But why do the directors take so much trouble in showing us from where they get their ideas from?
Agent Vinod begins with a Sergio Leone-esque dry land, where our man is captured in a rogue Afghan prison, much like the opening of Golden Eye in which Bond plays buddy cop; in Agent Vinod there is Ravi Kishen who keeps popping up acting more like Kato more than Sean Bean, so they prepare to give him a special appearance credit along with Gulshan Glover who walks in white like a man who has come get back some loaned money.
A Russian don gets killed and with him a secret known to the secret world as ‘242’ changes hands, our man who walks into RAW headquarters and has fleeting joke with an Indian Moneypenny is briefed briefly about the same. Thus begins his crash cruise through the world aided by an attractive Pakistani agent(Kareena Kapoor) going by many names. Will thewarring countries come together in saving the world? Or will they lose themselves in the process?
Reading through what I have typed in so far, I seem confused as to how approach in writing a piece on Agent Vinod.(I detest the word review, and how could a personal opinion be passed off as judgement) Should I indulge in length about the ‘Raabta’ sequence a clear homage to Scorsese or should I take a few critic like jokes on the wig of Ram Kapoor or the pony tail of Prem Chopra?
I truly enjoyed the film, with my minimum understanding of Hindi seventies pop culture I think I managed quite well, and I cannot speak on behalf of those who grew up on those films.
That brings us back to the original question of in-jokes and references/homages. Some things worked out quite fine, like calling a character after Indian model and Star Trek voyager Khambatta or the ‘Rakkamma Kayyathathu’ playing in the background while Vinod bashes up a Tamil, sometimes it doesn’t work or I hope to appreciate at a later age, Chaplin playing on the big screen at Riga. Wait was it Morocco? Through the course of the film Agent Vinod so many countries that you wonder that the makers will have trouble creating countries for the sequels (like Kamal and Sujatha attempted with Salamia in the much under-seen and derided Vikram).
Sometimes length is an issue.
As for the acting, I thought it was quite good considering the subject metter; Saif blends in as Agent Vinod and Kareena is adequate in the emotional scenes. Nobody expects Daniel Craig to accumulate nominations for playing Bond, so we should leave it at that.
And I take this opportunity to pass on some fact as advice to Sriram Raghvan, not that he doesn’t know. Here goes:
The man who made New York New York ultimately went on to make Goodfellas.
Sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss. It is OK.