His brain works like lightning, he moves as swiftly as a python making a strike. The rest is some VFX and quick camerawork and raw action. Meet Agent Vinod, who is a RAW agent on missions around the world. When a colleague named Rajan (Ravi Kissen) is murdered in the line of duty in St. Petersburg, Russia, Vinod heads there to get to the bottom of the mystery of the number 242 that he mentioned in a last message. (See movie trailer here)
Vinod's investigations take him to a pub, an arms supplier who could do with a strict barber (Ram Kapoor), a rich crook named Kazan (Prem Chopra) who has to shoot his dying camel Zilleh (yes, the camel’s relevant to the plot!) and his chief lieutenant, Pakistan’s Dr. Ruby Mendes (Kareena Kapoor) a.k.a. Dr. Iram, an accused in the London blasts. She has a tendency to inject truth serum into her captives to bring out the truth.
A copy of “Rubaiyat” by Omar Khayyam is being auctioned and Kazan ensures that he gets it for some completely unpoetic reasons. And there is a connection, a clutter of criminals and a conspiracy against the capital of India!
Raghavan's basic plot is smart, its final denouement alarmingly plausible and in sync with the best-selling espionage thrillers. The film skims through the loopholes in the script with the unapologetic audacity and apathy of high-octane actioners worldwide, not even deigning to explain how an agent arrested, wounded or about to be killed in one continent surfaces in a different country raring to go in fit condition! But that's precisely the problem with the film: it gets into such a complicated plot and script that even the hardcore thriller addict (like this reviewer) gets a shade confused, while the Indian mass audience is completely flummoxed.
Cold and complicated however, is not the mantra for the audience. And certainly a Rs. 70 crore project needed that mass connect. Hindi cinema’s successful espionage dramas show that emotions (“Farz,””Ankhen” (1968), “Sarfarosh,” “Dus” and the old “Agent Vinod”) are a prime and compulsory requisite. This film's spectacular action (Peter Heins, Parvez Khan), camerawork (C.K. Muraleedharan), VFX (Prime Focus) and technical razzmatazz are the high points of this thriller, but for the entertainment-seeking audience, these are and will always be optional!
The film lacks in emotions and the half-hearted back-story of Vinod and the tragic saga of Dr. Ruby hardly has a connect in quality or quantum. Sriram Raghavan is a competent film-maker but Hindi cinema's selling points are emotions, music and entertainment, and these are the crucial aspects where, like his earlier films “Ek Hasina Thi” and “Johnny Gaddaar,” this falls short. Raghavan under-utilizes Pritam's music score with hits like “Pungi” and “Dil mera” ruined in the filming and “Raabta” used as a background score in a weird situation. Daniel B.George's background score has heavy shades of R.D. Burman and is cliched rather than imaginative in many places.
The length of the film is a downer with the action also jerkily moving on a world tour of several countries, reminds us of last year's B-grade thriller “Aazaan.” The cast goes through the motions without excelling, though Prem Chopra, Shahbaz Khan and new find Adil Hussain as Colonel impress. Saif is cool but often lacks range in expression, but Kareena Kapoor brings a human touch to her inconsistent character.
Eros International & Illuminati Films present
Produced by: SAIF ALI KHAN & DINESH VIJAN
Directed by: SRIRAM RAGHAVAN
Written by: SRIRAM RAGHAVAN & ARIJIT BISWAS
Starring: SAIF ALI KHAN, KAREENA KAPOOR, PREM CHOPRA, DHRITIMAN CHATERJEE, NAZIR HUSAIN, SHAHBAZ KHAN, RAM KAPOOR, ADIL HUSSAIN, GULSHAN GROVER, RAVI KISSEN & others