Tinker, tinker, how tailor-made is this!
In an emergency, he fits into a Pakistani soldier’s uniform perfectly, and she slips into a Manish Malhotra mujra as if she’d had a hundred sittings for it. He demands beer as his last wish on earth and she has ginger tea-‘n’-bikkies being served to her by a snow-bearded terrorist.
Truly, dramatic licence is one thing but here the audience is taken for a bunch of ninnies. Sorry, not acceptable.
Now co-writer-director Sriram Raghavan has never been a straight, solid storyteller, relying excessively on technical gimmicks and references to the movies he has adored ever since he was a kid.
This gambit worked in Johnny Gaddar marvellously but Agent Vinod turns out to be a colossal waste of resources. It’s quite mindless and after half an hour or so seriously tedious, as if Raghavan was out to prove cinema is nothing but boretainment, boretainment, boretainment.
So, okay it’s about this RAW agent who for some peculiar reason has issues with his name, even bringing up dear ole Vinod Khanna. He’s also an obsessive name dropper: Kapil Dev, Mahendra Sandhu and Jugal Kishore are among the familiar ones, while Freddie Khambatta and Ruby Mendes are constantly fired at your ear buds.
Speaking of which, the background music score is so obtrusive that it appears to be under the control of a deejay who doesn’t know what to play: a mix of the Super fly and The Good The Bad and The Ugly title themes, halt for a snatch of Swan Lake or just go aiiieeeeeee-oooiee-aieeeee pungi pungi. Is this what they call the ear of living dangerously?
Anyway to assert that they’ve been avid moviegoers– who isn’t by the way? – Raghavan and Co. litter the 19-reeler with references to spaghetti westerns, Charlie Chaplin and Casablanca. There are quotes from songs of Sangam (Dost dost na raha), Kashmir ki Kali (Taarif karoon kya) and Phir Subah Hogi (Aasman pe hai khuda).
And TV ke achhe lagte hain Ram Kapoor, as a nasty heavyweight, is described as Bud Spencer from 5 Man Army. Don’t know if he should be insulted or flattered.
Come on guys, all these smart-alecky nods to childhood favourites, is overdone and by-now uncool. Grow up, cut to the chase. Trouble: there isn’t any except for some mumbo jumbo about a ‘bum’ (also called bomb) which could be more devastating than the one at Hiroshima-Nagasaki.
Seems the Pakistanis are planning to blow up New Delhi with this suitcase ‘bum’, which is associated for some cryptic reason with the digit 242 and has a detonating device contained in a copy of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat.
The misuse of the classic bugs even Karachi-e-Khatoona (Kareena Kapoor), a wannabe doctor whose dad was killed, and she was compelled to become some sort of an ISI Mata Hurry. Very jumpy, she.
As for Vinodbhai, he wanted to be an artist but somehow rescued stranded passengers from a cable car when he hadn’t sprouted whiskers. President Venkataraman, he says, gave him a medal, and presumably, the espionage job. Wow, since the Prez was in office from 1987-’92, that makes our hero an agent for at least the last 20 years.
Impressive. Unlike Bondji, the desi dude doesn’t relish all the combats, skirmishes, and sleep deprivation. Doesn’t sip martinis either. Khatoona is majorly morose too, accounting for a joyless thriller.
About the only time, the script is injected with a dose of humour is in the passing: two tubby Delhi ladies jumping on to a terrorist-driven autorickshaw, a Pakistani wedding guest is hauled up for spitting paan, and Prem Chopra looking like Dr. Fu Manchu sheds copious tears over his favourite pet, his Titanic of the desert.
Yeh to Camel ho gaya really.
The megathon – the film not the camel – travels between more nations than you can count on your fingers, at times unnecessarily like the quickie halts at Somalia and Sri Lanka. And indeed, there are scenes which make no sense at all. Vinodbhai sights the ghost of Fu Manchu’s mother and you suddenly expect a touch of Madhumati.
No way, nothing happens.
Vinodbhai locks hands a la dostana with the aforecited Freddie in a cab, praises his perfume flirtatiously but again, nada. Khatoona serves herself hotel tapwater in a glass, doesn’t drink it..so aaha what could that aqua business be?
Ooof. Most curious of them all, Vinodbhai cracks a long-winded joke about stray dogs in Delhi. Don’t get it at all. Bow no wow.
Conceptually, a song warbling over a killing spree in a hotel is terrific, but in execution, quite bizarre.
Raghavan just has to re-see Vijay Anand’s Mile do badan from Blackmail to gauge how the same concept can be done with style, and not clumsily.
On the techfront, here’s everything on show that multi-multi-crores can buy: lavish hotel rooms bombed, car chases, helicopters, special effects. But to what point?
The dialogue has such cornball lines as, “I don’t want to disturb your yaadon ki baraat.” Ha ha. And there are some grammatical goof-ups like Prem Chopra saying, “Unko meri salaam dena.”
The music score’s totally derivative – Boney M’s Rasputin redux is a laugh.
At the end of it all, suffice it to say, the Indo-Pak conflict is sought to be glossed over. Surely, if something politically valid is being said it should be loud and clear, with the courage of convictions.
Of the cast, the baddies are nothing to write to the devil about. Kareena Kapoor is so restrained and melancholic that you wish she had interpreted the character far more dynamically. Saif Ali Khan, who also goes bare-chested a la Salman Khan for a trice, is unconvincing, blowing hot-and-cold as Agent Mahendra Sandhu, Vinod Khanna, Whaaaatever. Suggestion: if you do venture into this at best, average Agent Vinod, carry a huge thermos of coffee to stay awake.Agent Vinod Deccan Chronicle Kareena Kapoor Khalid Mohamed Prem Chopra Ram Kapoor Reviews Saif Ali Khan Sriram Raghavan