Hindi cinema’s ‘affairs’ with James Bond

Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif played the Indian and Pakistani spies in love in the ‘Tiger’ franchise. Photo: Yash Raj Films

The iconic super-secret agent, James Bond, was first created in print by Ian Fleming in 1953 as the novel Casino Royale. But this year also sees the completion of 60 years of on-screen Agent 007 when Sean Connery enacted the hero and made him cult in the next few years. This first Bond film, Dr. No, was released on October 6, 1962. Casino Royale was only the fifth movie to be made and got released in April 1967.

The name James Bond signifies incredible gadgets and sexy girls, arch-villains out to ruin humanity and nature in one or more countries, and a suave yet completely ruthless agent for whom women, both good and evil, fall like ninepins. These obviously include similar agents from other agencies and organizations.

Hindi cinema has always caught on to the best elements of Hollywood and foreign cinema. Various aspects of the ace intelligence officer have been adapted in diverse ways and quantum to the Indian milieu with different levels of success. And let us not forget that the Indian James Bond could and did sing often! Here is a list of the Hindi movies that were inspired by the Bond ethos—in alphabetical order. The successful ones are highlighted in bold font.

Agent Vinod (1977)

A surprise super-hit from the staid family film-oriented Rajshri Productions (for that, they chose to make it under the banner of Sargam Pictures, under which they had made a stunt film earlier!), Agent Vinod told the story of a suave, Indian secret agent, whose persona resembles Bond in many ways. Mahendra Sandhu was on a mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist. En route, he falls for the scientist’s daughter (Asha Sachdev). Mahendra became a name to reckon with in the modest cinema circuit for some years to follow. The film, incidentally, marked the debut of the prolific director, Deepak Bahry, and composer Raamlaxman, of Maine Pyar Kiya fame.

Agent Vinod (2012)

The same title was used by producer-actor Saif Ali Khan 35 years later with Sriram Raghavan attempting a big-budget and mainstream film for the first time. Kareena Kapoor was the leading lady and the music was by hotshot Pritam. Saif did the tough spy routine, complete with ingenious escapes from enemy terrain, betrayals and double-crosses and cross-country adventures. The film, however, was rejected.

Ankhen (1968)

An international conspiracy, terrorist attacks (in the 1960s!) in Assam after Independence, a young man (Dharmendra) on a patriotic mission—Ramanand Sagar’s Ankhen (for which he even won the Best Director award!) was among the earliest spy dramas of consequence. It topped the list of 1968 hits and had super-hit music by Ravi. Mala Sinha and Kum Kum were the two leading ladies, while character artiste Sajjan (best known for his role later as Hema Malini’s father in Johny Mera Naam) was the mastermind. The film also was among the early Hindi movies to be shot overseas and showed a Bond-like affinity for gadgets! 

Bond 303 (1985)

Jeetendra was the hero in the only Hindi film actually titled with the word ‘Bond’, but was no ‘gem’ (couldn’t resist that, sorry!)! The flop starred Parveen Babi and had music by R.D. Burman, detailing a terrorist organization, a defector scientist and so on.

Ek Tha Tiger / Tiger Zinda Hai (2012 / 2017)

The idea of agents from across countries joining hands for a common mission was what separated this franchise from the normal Hindi spy thriller and took it into Bond-terrain where, for example, a Russian woman could join hands with the British secret agent. Both the films were blockbusters in the anti-terrorist canon. The directors were Kabir Khan and Ali Abbas Zafar respectively, and Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif were the two actors. The third film in the franchise, Tiger 3, is expected to release next year.

Farz (1967)

The first ‘Bond’ movie in India, this 1967 whopper (it ran for 50 weeks like Ankhen and the 1977 Agent Vinod) was signed by a then-two film old newbie Jeetendra as he wanted to make money for his sister’s wedding! Remade from the Telugu hit, Gudachari 116, it had super-hit music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal that aided its box-office. Jeetendra, in all-white (shirt, trousers, shoes) became known as the Jumping Jack through the songs and was ace spy Gopal a.k.a. Agent 116. The international conspiracy angle comes in as well—to destabilize India. Ravee Nagaich made his Hindi debut and continued to ‘bond’ with on-screen fascimiles of the British super-agent in more films to come!

Along with the massive success of Dharmendra’s Phool Aur Patthar in 1966, Farz inspired Ramanand Sagar to enhance the production scale of the same leading man’s abovementioned Ankhen!


Dharmendra in Keemat (1973) as a desi Bond against human trafficking. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Keemat (1973)

This average success was the next to come from Ravee Nagaich. It featured Dharmendra and Rekha. This time Dharmendra was Agent 116, and the film was remade later in Telugu. It focused on human trafficking.

Raksha (1982)

Ravee Nagaich’s hat-trick with Agent 116 was a flop. Jeetendra starred with Parveen Babi and Moushumi Chaterjee as the heroines. Nuclear war and terrorism came in. But not the audience!

Spy in Rome (1968)

A small film made by trade analyst B.K. Adarsh, it boasted of an interesting story of a Chinese man operating from Italy against India. Dev Kumar and the filmmaker’s actress-wife Jaymala played the lead roles, and the foreign locations again (a novelty then) might have made the film a break-even proposition. The music (Laxmikant-Pyarelal) was surprisingly a major disappointment, but for the title-song.

Surakksha (1979)

Ravee Nagaich shifted to Mithun Chakraborty as a CBI officer, Gopi (changed from Gopal in his other films!) named Gunmaster G-9! A terrorist organization is named Shiv Shakti! High-tech gadgets, car chases, scantily-clad girls and more highlighted this hit film’s association with the ‘Bond’ pantheon. Bappi Lahiri diverted from melody to a new kind of beat-heavy music that gave him lasting popularity—the disco type of song in Mausam hai gaane ka.

Wardat (1981)

Resting on the success of Surakksha, Ravee Nagaich pulled out all stops to make his second outing with Gunmaster G-9, on terrorists harnessing nature and damaging Indian crops with locusts on a rampage! Kajal Kiran was the leading lady and Bappi Lahiri was repeated, but the film bombed and did not ‘bond’ with the audience at all.



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