Agent Vinod: The Lonely Planet Guide to terror trails
Agent Vinod is like a beautifully shot travel commercial, with locations traversing from Afghanistan to Russia, New Delhi to Somalia, Morocco to Pakistan, Riga to London to South Africa. Except, Agent Vinod (Saif Ali Khan) is tracking terror in these locales, some of which are quite exotic, and getting roughed up instead of kicking back on the beach with a girl and a Mojito. It's like a Lonely Planet Guide to the terrorist world – where to find the mafiosos and drug lords instead of the best places to stay, sunny beaches and local foods.
Vinod is a painter-turned-RAW agent, who wanted to marry at least five times before he decided he wanted to live in that little space between life and death. So, the paintbrush gave way to him wielding a gun, and trying to keep India terror-free with partner, Rajan, played by Ravi Kishen. Vinod is suave and invincible, with a penchant for mouthing lines in pure Hindi — which we all have endured when calling a government helpline — in the gravest of situations, like Aap kataar main hein. Meant to be funny, but doesn’t really cut it.
On a mission to hunt down the mysterious 242, Vinod lands in Russia on a vendetta against Abu, played by Ram Kapoor of the “kiss on television” fame. After this, it's Morocco for Vinod, where he meets mafioso David Kazan, played ably by Prem Chopra; and Dr Ruby Mendes, played by Kareena Kapoor. It’s not love or lust at first sight for them; it's more like truth serum trauma. But you know where it's headed, despite it all.
Ruby is also a spy, with her real identity being Iram Parveen Bilal, a Pakistani medical student charged with the London bombings while studying in the UK. That she can perform a seductive mujra is an added skill in the spy game. The scene where Kazan puts his beloved camel, Zilleh, to sleep is hilarious. Zilleh plays an extremely important role in the nuclear bomb saga as you will see, if you decide to watch the film.
The odd thing is that even though the story and plot are completely pointless and seem forced just so a film could be made, you are not bored sitting through the length of the film, which runs for almost three hours. Agent Vinod is the kind of film you make fun of while watching; it is entertaining, even if you have to contribute to the ludicrous situations and cold emotional threads in the story.
Sriram Raghavan has had a big fan following among film industry insiders ever since his first film, Ek Hasina Thi (2004), a fabulous psychological thriller starring Saif and Urmila Matondkar, and then Johnny Gaddar (2007) with Neil Nitin Mukesh. Agent Vinod also bears his edgy style of filmmaking, but the story is the weakest link. Chasing down a nuclear bomb threat in New Delhi spanning continents and lasting for almost three hours is just not gripping enough without the mandatory thrills and chills that are missing.
The action is racy, but nothing we haven't seen already. The cinematography is brilliant. The dialogues are nothing to write home about and neither is the music. Agent Vinod’s advantage lies in the performances by its lead players and the supporting cast. Gulshan Grover barely has two lines though and Shahbaz Khan's glass eye is steelier than his character guarding the other side of the border.
Saif’s recent pow-wow with a businessman at Wasabi restaurant at the Taj hotel in Mumbai was due to Saif and Kareena's table being a bit too loud for the businessman to enjoy his dinner with his family. Well, Agent Vinod is also a bit like that – loud with no real story, just a ton of action packed sequences making you wonder: "What is going on here?" Kareena does get one, tight slap in the film, but not from Saif of course.
On a side note, Saif who has also produced the film, dedicated it to his Abba, the late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi.
Next time round, maybe a spy-thriller on the lines of Mr and Mrs Smith (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) with Saif and Kareena will crack the box office code. They are too good looking a couple, on and off screen to waste!
Updated Date: Mar 23, 2012 20:46:56 IST