the spy who fascinated me

(Three years back I had written this article which was later included in my book ‘Jottings of Idle hours’. At the time when I wrote the article, speculations were going on regarding a female version of 007. I am tempted to share the article here again since the speculations are going to be a reality going by this news item from The Times of India. Like the Bond movies, my post may have a few intended puns here and there. Watch out)

It was in 1982 that I watched my first Bond Movie – The Spy Who Loved Me – in a small town dilapidated movie hall. Forget about English dialogues, it was even difficult to make out the Hindi dialogues blaring out from the theater loudspeakers of such Cinema halls in those days. One had to ignore the sounds or, sometimes the lack of it, and enjoy the movie for its stunts and the stunning visuals of exotic locations and beauties.

Since then, Bond has continued to be a fascination, off and on. Hardly have I missed a bond movie. It was only when I watched Bond movies on TV with subtitles that I could fully understand the subtle humour, the puns and the double-entendres. Of course it is understandably why in India we need subtitles for English movies.

The sound systems in our cinema halls and TV sets do not do justice to English movies. Nor are our ears trained to catch up with their whispery dialogues in American or British accents even though there have been vast improvement in the quality of speakers over the years. So, to make their movies more audience friendly and countries like India being a big market, English movies now come with subtitles. Even Hollywood 3-D movies come with subtitles to make you wonder whether you should first catch up with the super heroes or the English alphabets floating in space.

Starting from Sean Connery in Dr. No, there have been six actors who have signed the Bond till date. Among all those who Bonded,  Pierce Brosnan has been my most favourite, because he accentuated the humour element the best, with Roger Moore coming a close second. From the point of view of close encounters with girls and villains and the use of sophisticated cars and gadgets, (to use the bond 3G analogy – Girls, Guns and Gadgets) no Bond is stronger than any other.

Even though Bond movies have been hugely popular in India, the only Bond movie to have been shot in India is ‘Octopussy’. It has many Indian actors like Kabir Bedi and Vijay Amritraj, the later being more famous for tossing his tennis balls than throwing his weighty dialogues. There was a plan to shoot some part of ‘Spectre’ in India. But later on the plan was abandoned.

With Daniel Craig, the latest to Bond, bonding has taken a highly serious turn. It has become less puny and less funny. Of course in spite of being more serious, it has continued to earn the franchise more and more money. It has also brought the spectre of death on some of its own people. Bond’s immediate boss and the most trusted supporter ‘M’ dies in ‘Skyfall’, not out of a sky fall, though.

Ironically, the Old Q who never won a Nobel in spite of making gadgets hundreds of years ahead of his time, himself looked like a relic from the past.  Now we have a young Q, bespectacled and a digital geek. Maybe, to keep up with the times.

And Bond movies have kept up with the times. In the cold war era, if Russia was the dominant theme, now it is terrorism.

For the next movie in the series, who will play the next Bond? Speculations are on. Some demand that the next Bond should be a black, to black out the racial bias. While some may ask – why not someone from the fairer sex so as to fair out the gender bias?

Now imagine a lady Bond. When someone inquires about her name will she say, “Bond, James Bond”  or  James will be replaced with  a feminine name?  Will there be a change in Bond’s favourite drink, or will she continue to order – Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred – letting the audience wonder whether this too was some sort of a double entendre . And how many men will she be allowed to Bond in a single movie, that is, if she is heterosexual. And if, she is heterosexual what will happen to the legacy of 3Gs?

Maybe, she will prefer to continue with the legacy of 3Gs even at the cost of being branded a lesbian, and to make a political statement keeping up with the times.

With so many ifs and buts to take care of, will they really give a lady the license to kill? Let us wait and watch.

PS: Sometimes subtitles, in stead of bringing clarity, may bring more confusion, especially when words are replaced by **s to cater to the taste of a samskari audience. Visit this post to know how.

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