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by Karan Anshuman (Filmmaker/movie critic)|Posted on Mar 24th 2012| Rating
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Karan Anshuman (Filmmaker/movie critic), 

Karan Anshuman is a film critic for Mumbai Mirror. He's worked on a bunch of movie projects, none of which you've ever seen...yet! He's a history, photography, squash, web 2.0, food, and gaming enthusiast who would trade his soul to travel the world.

AGENT VINOD: Indian Government Bond

Director: Sriram Raghavan; Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Gulshan Grover, Prem Chopra, Ravi Kissen, Ram Kapoor

Rated U/A

2.5 stars


Agent Vinod,
the hotly anticipated film, in the making for what seems eternity is finally here. But once you take in the colossal canvas – traversing the globe, suffused with countless action set pieces – coupled with its run time of over two and a half hours, you will immediately understand why it took so long. That it’s big and deserves consideration is unquestionable, but is Agent Vinod the game-changing, defining, action thriller that Bollywood’s been waiting for after the false starts last year that ranged from Azaan to Don 2?


The story is convoluted without being complex (acceptable), but unfocussed for the sake of variation (not quite acceptable). There are so many things happening – terrorists (with such elegant taste) watch a Tchaikovsky ballet in Riga, Latvia; while a member of the same group has his plan jeopardized by two fat Punjabi ladies who refuse to relinquish their rickshaw ride in Delhi. In between the mayhem you’ve bomb-carrying helicopters, the Trans-Siberian Express, Russian mafia, Indian industrialists, Afghan warlords, gay flight pursers, Moroccan camels, Pakistani generals … and one man to sort it all out. Agent Vinod is the kind of film with a lot of breadth, but very little depth. The sentimental bits especially, islands on their own, just don’t cut it.


The problem with AV is that it is patchy. While every scene is correctly intentioned, thought through, and executed sharply, the movie does not come together cohesively.

This is the paradox that Raghavan battles, trying to create space for his vision by pushing back the walls of what is essentially a cramped boxy Bollywood-meets-Bond genre. He strives for originality and innovation but has little option but to cave in to clichés and explanations. He works comfortably with tributes: intercutting his high-octane scenes with classic Hindi songs (perhaps once too often), with a Chaplin film playing in a public square, with a mujra at a Pakistani wedding, with small measures of humor pivoting on homages. He truly stamps his class in a couple of moments: the first, a nail-biting will-he won’t-he sequence as a sniper targets his prey, the moment teetering on edge; and second, what he’s done with the Raabta song in his single shot master moment, alone worth the price of admission.


AV scores high in technical departments – production design is the clear winner here and at par with Hollywood levels to eye-candy, paired with tight, genre-prescribed cinematography. Disappointing however, is the sound (especially when compared to the brilliant audio design of Johnny Gaddar) and the more challenging visual effects of which, thankfully, there is not too much off.


For an action film, Kareena Kapoor gets more than her fair share of screen time and scope of character. It’s not nearly enough to showcase her talent, and she seems somewhat disconnected from proceedings. Saif Ali Khan, on the other hand, embodies Agent Vinod’s persona – confident, cheeky, and chivalrous.


The answer is no, Agent Vinod is not quite there. Despite Raghavan’s mastery in certain moments, the script – undoubtedly mangled on the edit table – leaves the film like a rudderless boat in open waters: floundering for direction. Watch it for the ride, but don’t expect to be rattled. 


Check out more reviews by Karan Anshuman here 

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