Saif Ali Khan's No-Nonsense Screen Presence in Agent Vinod (2012) Makes Him Man of the Moment
Agent Vinod (2012): A WBRi Movie Review
Kolkata, March 26, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) The influence of the 70s spy thriller movies on Sriram Raghavan can be seen to ostensibly reflect in his latest highly anticipated venture – ‘Agent Vinod’ (Hindi, 2012). The movie is indeed Bollywood’s answer to the adrenaline packed action sequences that we have so often been witness to in films like James Bond series and Mission Impossible. But at the same time, the film fails to satisfy its critics in entirety thanks to the highly intricate and convoluted plot in which characters seem to enter and leave at random instances. It is one of those moments when a film does entertain you to a certain extent but then leaves you a tad disappointed when you wish if only the movie could have been just a tad better.
Being his most ambitious project till date, Saif Ali Khan comes across as a stylish and suave RAW undercover spy by the name of ‘Agent Vinod’ who seems to have the perfect knack of blurting out satiric one-liners even when there’s a gun pointed at his temple.
The film opens in the sultry deserts of Afghanistan where the spy was held hostage by the enemies. But as synonymous with all spy thriller movies, the protagonist does manage to escape and arrives in India to learn the fact that there is a bigger ulterior plot being hatched by a group of corporate business tycoons to target the capital city of India using a suitcase bomb.
The only clue that the agent has is the number ‘242’ with which he has to find the briefcase and detonate the bomb before it leaves behind a trail of destruction. Thus the journey begins with the spy traveling from one country to the other, hurtling down doors with ease and meeting one villain one after the other. If it is a Russian drug baron by the name of ‘Abu Nazer’ (Ram Kapoor) in Moscow, Islamabad brings the agent face to face with a one eyed Pakistani general (Shahbaaz Khan). Not to forget in this hectic frenzy is the glam diva Kareena Kapoor who plays a Pakistani secret agent which leads us to a bit of confusion of whether secret agents of India and Pakistan could ever work together for a united motive.
Sriram Raghavan however desists from the above view and argues quite bluntly that the paradox could indeed be true. With the first half packed with action sequences shot in countries like Morocco and Latvia, you desperately wish that all the jumbled pieces introduced in the first half would be put together to make a logical picture. Well that’s where Raghavan fails as not only is the pace coughing and stumbling at places, the convoluted second half is indeed too confusing to the viewers.
As stereotypical of all action thriller movies where we are promised a high octane climax, the two-and-a-half hour film does not fail to disappoint there with an explosive climax in Delhi that does keep you on the tenterhooks.
With high speed car chases and bullets flying around the place at the velocity of light, ‘Agent Vinod’ is entertaining and yet at the same time does not quite live up to its expectations. The paradox is indeed strange. Although shrouded by controversies, the musical score by Pritam blends quite well with the plot, especially songs like ‘Pyaar ki pungi’ and the mujrah ‘Dil mera muft ka’, although we are a little surprised by how western instruments could be introduced in a contemporary desi mujrah. Moving on, Kareena Kapoor fits quite snugly into the role which though offers very little navigation for the actress who has to remain sidestepped by the lead actor at all times. Raghavan’s tribute to the 70s films is reflected by the inclusion of actors like Prem Chopra and Gulshan Grover who bring a certain credibility to their roles as stereotypical baddies of Bollywood. Ravi Kishan, Ram Kapoor and Adil Hussain are the other lead actors whose roles could have been molded and handled with much greater perfection. Editing is often a tough task which asks for several countless hours of burning the midnight oil especially when the movie at hand is a spy thriller. This is probably the reasons why credit has to be given to the editor Pooja Ladha Surti for a sassy yet uber cool way by way of which the sequences have been edited.
Last but not the least, Saif Ali Khan is certainly the man of the moment who has indeed done a justified portrayal of the no-nonsense undercover agent with a screen presence that has definitely matured with the passage of time. There is a classy blend of humor interspersed with pockets of seriousness and flawless acting. As for Sriram Raghavan, he certainly has to sit down and introspect and if possible knit together the numerous loopholes in the script. Overall, Agent Vinod does command of an entertaining spy thriller and yet fails to impress in its entirety.