The British have their 007. The Americans have Ethan Hunt (not the same, but still). Indians have – Salman Bhai playing Tiger, (Ek tha Tiger, Tiger Zinda Hai). Indians also have Balakrishna, a RAW agent (Paisa Vasool), Shiva, an agent of the Intelligence Bureau (Spyder) and Jai, a DRDO Scientist (Jawaan).
After having endured about three-quarters of Jawaan a couple nights ago after which I gave up, I got chatting with a friend and thought about the asinine portrayals of our Intelligence Agencies in these movies. I look at the filmmakers and they are all young and in touch with the times (at least from their use of Social Media and the interviews they dole out before the release of the movie). What then compels them to have such poor understanding of how a top Intelligence Agency works? Sample these gems from each of these movies to understand what I’m lamenting about here – (Warning – LONG POST)
Tiger – the RAW chief, after he finds out that a group of Indian nurses have been kidnapped in Iraq, decides to fly to Washington to meet the CIA chief to persuade them to delay the bombing of Iraq. He then flies back to India to inform the minister that he has managed to get the US to agree that they would delay the bombing by a week. He then spends another day tracing Tiger and another 10 hours flying to Europe to meet up with Tiger. Ever heard of a phone, Genius? And the CIA chief takes decisions about when to launch airstrikes on Iran?
All the IS terrorists in Iraq resort to only hand-to-hand combat. They even wait for Bhai to pull a scarf of a clothesline, dip it in water and then patiently get hit in the face with said scarf. Ever heard of guns, dimwits? A scene in which Bhai and Bhabhi are in a car with terrorists in front of them and behind them goes on and on – showing the two wearing seatbelts, exhorting the kid in the back seat to wear his and then finally taking off on a ramp that is conveniently available – the terrorists only shoot their rocket launcher after the car takes off, conveniently bumping off their own vehicle at the other end of the street.
The RAW chief instructs his number one agent not to reveal himself and instead keep an eye on Tiger to see if the has ‘softened’ due to his marriage to a Pakistani agent. Why did you go to so much trouble to bring him back then? I could go on, but remember there are three other movies in the list.
Jawaan – oh where do I begin! The DRDO has developed a top-secret missile, one that can be carried across in a suitcase and has named it Octopus. The villains of course know about it already. Our Hero gets an inkling that someone is trying to get into the DRDO facility to steal something. He promptly takes a forged DRDO stamp, enters into the secure premises, overhears conversations about Project X and understands that this is important. He then sends out a Whatsapp forward saying DRDO is being shutdown and all true Indians should do a protest march to prevent it from being shutdown. A friend then asks his Dad if DRDO is being shutdown and the Dad tells him that they are far from being closed, they’ve just developed an ultra-secret missile called Octopus and that it will take DRDO to the next level. Said friend promptly calls Hero and tells him about this. Hero figures out that the missile will be taken to Delhi, figures out the route that the convoy will take (ever heard of air transport, numbskulls?) and then zeroes in on the spot where he thinks the attack will take place, shows up at the exact place and prevents the missile from being stolen. DRDO, upon learning that this guy illegally entered their premises, immediately offers him a job so he can now legitimately enter the same premises. And on Day One as a junior scientist, he is given the grand tour of Octopus, the supposedly top-secret project – ever heard of clearances, Donald Trumps?
Paisa Vasool – Nandamuri Balakrishna is a RAW Agent (I’m pretty sure I do not need to say more, but I will). Kyra Dutt gyrates suggestively in the title song, accompanies the hero with promises of a hot oil massage and a foam bath for a price and promptly pulls out a gun two scenes later claiming to be an Assistant Commissioner of Police. She is in direct touch with the chief of RAW, even has his number stored on her phone as CHIEF (in Caps, no less). She enlists Balakrishna (whose RAW identities are not yet revealed, at this point he is a drunken rowdy) to kill an international Don and tells the heroine to move closely with the hero so he can help her. So much for being an honest and upright officer.
Kabir Bedi, who plays the RAW chief is shot at inside his car in the RAW premises, not by a Sniper, but by someone who runs up to the car, pulls a door open, shoots and runs away. India’s premier spy network is surely in safe hands! Balayya’s interview consists of GK questions and opinions about the biggest spy agency in the world and a rabble rousing patriotic speech at the end of which the entire interview panel stands up and shouts Jai Hind. Ever heard of the word Research, Puri Jagannath?
Spyder – Mahesh Babu works for the Intelligence Bureau. His job is to listen to phone calls, pick out suspicious ones and send it upstairs for further inquiries. Our hero, however, is a genius. He plants his own software into the system and trains it to identify the words help or its equivalents and pick out those calls only. Fat intelligence the bureau has when one of their own has hacked into their system, planted a bug of his own and making it behave like he wants it to.
He has two superiors who come to know of his transgression and he manages to keep both of them quiet by talking about their retirement benefits. Both officers immediately back off – screw the nation, we don’t want to miss our retirement benefits. There is a special task force constituted, but all it takes is one statement from our hero that he wants to handle this on his own and the task force promptly backs off.
Yet again, I could go on and on ranting, but let me stop here. The one thing that beats me is how the heroes belonging to this generation like Mahesh Babu and Sai Dharam Tej can blindly agree to this stuff. Is the promise of a box-office success so blinding? Or do they take the audience to solely consist of fans who will lap up everything they do? And whatever goes on in the heads of these directors? Where do they dream up such stuff from? Pulp novels sold in bus stops have better plots (the Shadow series for example). I really hope they wake up and give us one good spy movie or just go back to sleep and tackle mass masala subjects. It is difficult to digest these half-baked intelligent thrillers now!