Review: Agent Vinod

Agent Vinod is a throw back to the 70’s and the 80’s movies of dons and upright individuals more than it is an Indian Bond movie. The movie gives a sense of having read a comic book episode of phantom (or in this case a government agent) and his one adventure. The plots and sub plots are many to keep one guessing and the indian context is extremely interesting to experience. The protagonist here is not just a man solving a crime but a government agent who is steeped in secret names, devious plots of destruction and a lot of unsavory characters.

There are many regrets one experiences while watching the movie, for example, Kareena Kapoor matches the steps of a dancer in a badly choreographed dance number at the end, this from Sriram Raghavan is quite unexpected. The bad guys in the movie are slightly caricaturish which can on one hand delve one into nostalgia of yesteryear films and on the other hand take away from the story itself. The dialogues are especially bad eliciting a lot of laughter at unexpected places. The execution of the end left something to be desired, making the movie more camp than was necessary. Bits of the movie are extremely good and there are some parts that are so cheesy that one cringes in the movie hall. Leaving one with the feeling that this could have been really, really good. But isn’t quite.

Saif Ali Khan can’t move his tight body. The muscles are so well toned that they have been turned into stone. The only place he came across as Agent Vinod to me was in the poster and no where else in the movie. Interestingly every time Adil Hussain was on screen I instinctively felt ‘Ah! Here’s Agent Vinod’. Which of course was an entirely wrong feeling to have in the movie. I didn’t think he was particularly exceptional in his own role, but was well cast. He seems to have the charisma of a leading man, more than all the khans put together. How would he have been in Amitabh Bachchan’s role in Cheeni Kum? One hopes there are more things written for him.

Ram Kapoor over did it. But considering his many other roles, I am inclined to blame the director. Prem Chopra was a delight to watch. Its as if he enjoyed this role a lot and one could see the veteran relishing it the entire time. There is an interesting thing that happens with Kareena Kapoor, she acts in flashes and recedes into nothing other times. I always get the sense of a very disjointed character with her, where some parts are of the character, some parts of herself, and some others of nothingness. Very confusing to watch. But one of her better movies. My absolute favorites were Ravi Kissen (he has a small role, an actor I wish something substantial was written for) and the person who played Agent Vinod’s partner in Morocco. He is the same man who played the fire brand inspector in Paan Singh Tomar. Ah! What a delight to watch. So many of these faces to see these days in movies. Must be good times.

The director is a big let down, especially after establishing an almost cult following with his earlier movies. I am inclined to think that the big budget and the general scale of the movie undid him and this is a stepping stone towards the next big budget +  quintessential Sriram Raghavan style combination.

Wonder what it is with cinematography these days, everybody seems to have an aversion towards still camera and pan shots. The camera moves so incessantly at times in the fight sequences that I have this real urge to hold the cinema hall screen tight to stop it from moving so I can actually see what is going on. And a final mention on the fight scenes, a different fight director could have made this a different film. Peter Heines’s work in the telugu and tamil film is far more clearer than his work in this film. The fight scenes are muddy, distorted and dismissable.

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