India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Agent Vinod: The spy who disappointed me


Perhaps the most surreal moment in Sriram Raghavan‘s “Agent Vinod” is during a shootout at a seedy hotel in Latvia, when there’s a horde of gangsters chasing the protagonists.

Instead of filming the scene like a regular action sequence, with lots of gunfire, smoke and action, Raghavan turns it on its head — filming the scene almost entirely in slow motion and to the tune of the “Rabta” song.

It’s one of the inspired moments that take “Agent Vinod” to another level altogether — only to have it come crashing down a few scenes later when we are subjected to a long, emotional and implausible monologue about how India and Pakistan must come together to fight terror. And that remains the tenor of the film throughout — the flashes of brilliance don’t add up to a great film.

Raghavan’s protagonist is Agent Vinod, an Indian intelligence officer, played by Saif Ali Khan. We are introduced to him in a fast-paced sequence in the arid Pakistani desert, where he escapes from the clutches of a battalion of guards with panache. Raghavan gets you hooked immediately, and the first half is a jumble of names, characters, random numbers but nothing is what it seems.