(This article is also published in http://www.fwa.co.in/SitePages/Agent-Vinod.aspx )
Different names. Exotic countries. Couple of hot chicks. Some poker faced jokes. Several villains. Sexy bikes, fuming cars, snazzy helicopters and beautiful trains. Several stunts.
One handsome spy and a budding romance.
More than enough to sustain an almost three hour long spy flick part inspired from James Bond, part Bourne.
Agent Vinod is no Bond though. There are no gadgets, no sexual innuendoes, few gals and plenty of moving vehicles. But this desi agent disarms you with his guns and unrestrained emotions .
Agent Vinod’s title is a throwback to the seventies movie about a spy called Mahinder Sandhu. This name amongst others like Kapil Dev, Anthony Gonsalves,Vinod Khanna, Freddy Khambata are tossed around throughout as our nonchalant agent keeps getting into trouble with as many goons as the countries.
The movie opens to an impressive action sequence sprinkled with humour and thrill in a beautifully shot Afghanistan landscape with Agent Vinod successfully escaping and driving off with a beautiful woman in a jeep. A perfect opening credit music sets the tone to this drama that moves to Russia, Morocco, Riga, Pakistan, London and eventually India, at a pace faster than Agent Vinod’s guns and cars. Vintage villains like Prem Chopra and Ranjit make memorable appearances with exotic names and costumes along with dying camels and gajras with hidden microphones.
A quest for a mysterious code 242 and Rubaiyat, a bomb detonator, follows and is chased around by Agent Vinod, spinning you into a tizzy tour around the world.
Agent Vinod comes with high expectations from a very capable director, Sriram Raghavan who last spinned out a clever movie like Johnny Gaddaar with small stars and small budget. It also carries Hollywood standard expectations of a spy thriller slick on production and style. Agent Vinod maintains the clever and cool style with scintillating cinematography, direction and action, faltering only just as a spy would; at the hands of a femme fatale. Iram Parveen Bilall (what a name), played by Kareena Kapoor looks suitably hot astride super hot wheels behind stylish Saif. Her character and mysterious plotline tends to distract though with some emotional gratification which a movie of this genre usually lacks.
Albeit a plot overkill, the writing (Sriram and Arijit Biswas) includes good side characters, funny moments and sparsely used dialogues that include occasional one liners..”aap kataar mein hain..” (Sriram, Arijit Biswas,Pooja,Dhirendra Diwedi).Unlike a regular spy thriller, both Agent Vinod and Iram are given a history and mild character layering which at one level gets you involved in their romance but at another level, takes away from the cool style of a not so cold spy. The scenes that work the best are the ones with no dialogues, like a tension filled one with Agent Vinod literally being a sitting target at one point. The action sequence playing to the tune of “Raabta”, is simply brilliant.
Saif starts off promisingly as the mysterious, charming spy armed with a killer smile and clever stunts but falls short in being convincing enough and ends up as the thanda beer that loses fizz in a paper cup (reference to a scene).Kareena passes off well as more than the hot babe on wheels with Saif and does sufficient justice to her somewhat stretched role. Prem Chopra hasn’t forgotten his villainous act of the seventies and succesfully makes his presence felt as Kazaan. Adil Hussain plays it just right as calculating and calm Colonel. As for the other supposedly sexy sirens,Marium Zakaria and Malika Haydon, they don’t quite make the cut at par with Bond’s super glorious women
The best parts of the movie belong to the thrilling soundtrack(Daniel B George), grand cinematography(C.K.Muralidharan) explosive action, slick ,stylised production design, great visual effects(prime Focus) light and groovy music(Pritam)all of which make Agent Vinod worth a watch. The edit (Pooja Ladhaa Surti) could use some ruthless chopping of this somewhat lengthy chase.
The lyrics(Amitabh Bhattacharya) vary from being funny ( nice: kahaan chali pyaar ki pungi baja kar) to romantic(disappointing,Kuch to hai tujhse raabta).The latter is the reason to watch this movie, not for the song but the fabulously shot scenes accompanying it.
Agent Vinod would have been a complete joyride if it had more of Sriram Raghavan’s trademark clever storytelling. Nevertheless, it retains the adventure and the excitement that comes with this genre. End of the day, here is what matters. On the first day of the show, the hall is packed. The audience laughs at every joke. There is a loud gasp at a particularly emotional scene towards the end. All signs of a successful action flick.