x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Saif Ali Khan says Agent Vinod is no Bond rip-off

Bollywood's latest offering Agent Vinod has all the ingredients for an espionage thriller: car chase scenes, cool gadgets and dangerous stunts.

The Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan in Agent Vinod.
The Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan in Agent Vinod.

An Indian secret agent has been murdered and his death is clouded in mystery.

Before his final moments, he has managed to send a cryptic message to headquarters to alert them that something has gone terribly wrong. A slick spook, known for his daredevil tactics, is then sent to investigate the situation.

Agent Vinod is the latest Bollywood movie set to premiere in Dubai on March 22. The film stars Saif Ali Khan who plays the title role alongside Kareena Kapoor (Ra. One, Om Shanti Om), as his on-screen love interest.

The movie, which Khan (Salam Namaste, Being Cyrus, Omkara) produced through his production company Illuminati Films, has all the ingredients of an espionage thriller, including fast car-chase scenes, cool gadgets and dangerous stunts. However, do not mistake the action film for a "cheesy James Bond rip-off", said Khan during a recent visit to Dubai to promote the movie. Following a press conference, organised by Dream Advertising and Ministry of Events, Khan confessed that it could be the biggest opener of his career due to the amount of buzz the title has created.

"People are expecting a Bond rip-off, so the first scene in the movie will take the audience by complete surprise," he said. "This genre is very much in demand in Bollywood and some have made cheesy remakes, but do not expect this movie to be one of them. What's interesting is the title seems to have caught people's imagination. No one is sure what to make of it."

The film took 135 days to shoot in various locations including Russia, India, Pakistan and Morocco.

"Locations should always be important as long as they provide the right visual elements," said Khan. "Where things are going on is integral to take you from one environment to another."

Having his own production company means more freedom to pick and choose the movies he wants to get involved in and how they are presented.

"Many things in the Bollywood movie industry have changed," he said. "Being a director or producer/actor means having much more control, so your films are created in a way that tells the story you envision."

Because of his involvement as producer, Khan was able to then spend plenty of time brainstorming with the director/writer Sriram Raghavan (Johnny Gaddaar) on ways of making a different type of action movie.

"A car-chase scene is not original, but the person driving the car is," he said.

Agent Vinod will be released across 2,500 cinema screens in India and more than 700 screens worldwide, including Pakistan – an important market, said the film's co-producer, Dinesh Vijan.

"I have family in Pakistan and feel they are a large part of our audience, especially in the UK, so we felt it would be wrong to alienate them," Khan said. To play Agent Vinod, Khan had to prepare more than for any other role – and much more than his co-star, he admitted.

"I was put on a diet and did lots of exercise. It's much harder than it looks, to stick to this routine. I was sent to Vietnam and it turned out to be amazing, where I practised martial arts," said Khan. "It was really fun to learn the stunts. Kareena is normally very fit and on a strict diet, so fitness comes more naturally to her, unlike me."

Khan is already more than a third of the way into his next project, which marks a complete departure from the Agent Vinod role.

"I'm working on a comedy/zombie film called Go Goa Gone," he said. "And it will be the first-ever Bollywood zombie movie."

Khan is also filming the action movie Race 2 with Anil Kapoor (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) this year. After that wraps, he plans to take his first significant break since the death of his father last year, to spend some time in Delhi renovating the family home.