Sriram Raghavan has made just three movies in the last eight years — Ek Hasina Thi (2004), Johnny Gaddaar (2007) and now Agent Vinod, on which he’s still putting finishing touches. "Yeah, I’ve been a little too slow, Johnny Gaddaar was out five years go," agrees the writer-director, notable for producing a 45-minute documentary on the Indian serial killer, Raman Raghav.
Pointing out that he had expected to wrap up his third film in two years, the 49-year-old admits that the first draft of Agent Vinod itself took six months. "But that’s no excuse. Even Steven Spielberg makes one movie a year," he says, adding, "This time, my New Year’s resolution is to speed up on the output."
Saif Ali Khan’s home production on the lines of the Bond, Bourne and Tintin series, is slated for release on March 23. If people like it, they could make a sequel. "It’s easy to take the franchise forward because it’s a spy thriller and could lend itself to different adventures in new countries.
I’d like to do another Agent Vinod, but it’s not necessary that I have to do every film in the series," says Sriram, pointing out that Mission Impossible, while retaining its star, Tom Cruise, has moved from Brain De Palma (Mission: Impossible, 1996) and John Woo (Mission: Impossible II, 2000) to JJ Abrams (Mission: Impossible III, 2006) and Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, 2011).
Before he helms another Agent Vinod, Sriram would like to make a "smaller, more intimate movie". The filmmaker has been working on a couple of projects, but everything has been put on hold till the release of the Saif-Kareena Kapoor starrer, which has been shot in 12 countries. "We thought we’d finish it six months ago, but when that didn’t happen, I told Ramesh Sippy, with whom I am committed to doing a film next, around June-July last year, that we’d talk only after March," he says.
The film he had planned with Sippy was titled Happy Birthday and the duo had even zeroed in on John Abraham and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to star in it. Will he go back to the original cast given that Aishwarya is a mother now and on a sabbatical?
"I’ve not spoken to anyone about Happy Birthday for the last one-and-a-half years. In fact, it’s been out of my head too for almost two years. After Agent Vinod I will go back to it and when you revisit a script after all this time, you tend to make some changes. Let’s see where we go with it," says Sriram. "All I can say at the moment is that Happy Birthday is a very different film from Agent Vinod.It’s a sci-fi love story, with no car chases and no guns."