The problem with Agent Vinod is a sad one indeed. Because this was one Bollywood movie that I had seen in a long, long time that really showed a lot of promise. And therefore, the end it came to makes it all the more sad.
Sriram Raghavan has been one of the high toasted directors that the Bollywood New Wave has produced and propped up in recent times. And with movies like Ek Hasina Thhi and Johnny Gaddar, the accolades that he had received till date were truly justified. And therefore also, equally justified, was the hype around his latest cinemascope, Agent Vinod. And with Agent Vinod, he was once again teaming up with Saif Ali Khan — no one really has still come to grips with the fist fight scene from Ek Hasina Thhi. It’s true.
Bottom Line: Agent Vinod did not do as well as expected at the box office.
After having watched Agent Vinod twice, I think I can take a shot at the cause — amalgamation of genres. That alone could have been the only reason why the movie couldn’t be well received by the audiences.
With Ek Hasina Thhi, Sriram Raghavan took us on a seldom walked path, that of the noir thriller genre. And everything in that movie fit like the perfect shoe. Like I already mentioned, the fist fight sequence, the actual act, the boyfriend bait, the betrayal, the friendships, the metamorphosis, the strategy, the trap and the redemption, everything seemed to just come on like a sequential train already pre-destined by fate.
Johnny Gaddar travelled a different path completely. We were now back to the retro thriller, made even more emphatic by the director in the two people he dedicates the movie to — James Hadley Chase and Vijay Anand. The key word here was “style”. Once again, everything ran through like a well-wound clock. Tick-tock, tick-tock, that I believe has been the key to all of Sriram Raghavan’s movies.
And boom! Face to face with Agent Vinod. What bitter disappointment. And why? Because Sriram Raghavan has gone down the same path that he had rightfully chosen to avoid earlier. He had attempted to make a blockbuster, Bollywood ishtyle!
Let me illustrate my point better with an example from the first few minutes of the movie. We are shown a Tuco quote from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and then the movie starts to play. We are all excited and waiting, when what seems like an almost straight life from Once Upon a Time in the West starts materializing in the background — the harmonica is quite the same, but the movement far too laborious, unlike the magnificent original. And then from there, we are taken right into a Pierce Brosnan-ish James Bond film where the Pakistanis try to make Saif Ali Khan (name unknown) talk. And then, moments later, when Saif tries to make a break for it, along with his “partner” Ravi Kishen, starts the meaningless banter between the two, ala Main Hoon Na style. And finally, borrowing from the theater of the absurd (and I am being as polite and sarcastic that I can possibly be at the same time), a sexy woman tossing inside a sack is uncovered — her name? Farah Faquesh. (I may have gotten her first name wrong, but then… do you blame me?)
And now rolls the credit titles.
This I believe is the principal problem with Agent Vinod, and it is sad to see Sriram Raghavan go down this road. The same held true for Anurag Basu earlier, who met with the same fate with Kites. But I have noticed that whenever such directors go on a budget spree, they start to lose focus. Perhaps they become to ridden with the guilt that they need to get the producer back all their money and start including item numbers which make no sense — Sriram Raghavan’s sheer genius is evident from the action sequences he develops through bits and portions of the movie. Bourne Supremacy be damned, Agent Vinod is a clear winner.
This wasn’t a review exactly, but more of an inquisition into the causes of Agent Vinod’s failure. But give it some thought, and do let me know if I missed out more than just this.
Directed by: Sriram Raghavan
Produced by: Saif Ali Khan, Dinesh Vijan
Screenplay by: Sriram Raghavan and Arijit Biswas
Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Prem Chopra, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Ram Kapoor, Maryam Zakaria, Gulshan Grover, Ravi Kishen
Music by: Pritam
Cinematography by: C K Muraleedharan
Editing by: Puja Ladha Surti
Running Time: 152 minutes (approx)
Budget: $11.97 million (approx)
- Agent Vinod: Pakistan bans film for ISI reference (ibnlive.in.com)
- Agent Vinod and the Capital Talk… (passivevoices.wordpress.com)
- tonymontana’s thoughts on Agent Vinod (satyamshot.wordpress.com)
- ‘Agent Vinod’ series on Saif Ali Khan’s mind (ibnlive.in.com)
- Saif: ‘Agent Vinod’ my most demanding role (ibnlive.in.com)
- Agent Vinod and its moments!!! (madaboutmoviez.com)
- Agent Vinod : How not to make a Spy movie! (devlifeintechnicolor.com)