Saif Ali Khan’s second home production is gearing up for a March 23 release. And as part of the promotional hype that plays an integral part in the marketing of any film these days, the actor-producer is readying a comic book, has tied up with McDonald’s for a line of merchandise and is designing a PlayStation3 game, all of which revolve around Agent Vinod.
The PS3 game is a first person shooter and will take the gamer, a prototype of the secret agent Saif plays on screen, through different levels of difficulty.
“At each level, he or she will be provided with clues to nail the bad guy, who could range from a ‘chaalu’ (street smart) knife-wielding dada (don) from Mumbai’s dark underbelly to an international mafia kingpin,” explains Saif, adding, “If the baddie is killed in the shootout, the gamer earns points and moves on to the next level.”
Quiz him on whether this game is for his children, Sara and Ibrahim, and Saif admits that they are not the real gamers in his family. But he admits he is. “When the first CDs came out, I was hooked. For a week to 10 days, I was lost in this dark virtual space, far away from the real world,” he reminisces with a smile, confident that the Agent Vinod game too will find plenty of takers.
The biggest thrill for Saif is that the first action sequence seen in level one will open in Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum. “Isn’t that cool?” he asks excitedly. “If the film works, we are planning to build Agent Vinod into a brand. And I’d like the sequel to open in Dharavi too.”
The film has been shot in 12 countries, including Morocco, Russia and Latvia, with the climax filmed in New Delhi. Saif points out that he chose to produce a spy thriller because while Hindi cinema has dabbled in many genres, from mythology and romance to comedy and drama, spy thrillers have been sadly neglected and restricted to the Surakshas and the Gunmaster G9s for the lack of finance and finesse.
He points to Deepak Bahry’s 1977 film with Mahendra Sandhu as Agent Vinod, who goes haring off across the country in search of a kidnapped scientist, played by Nazir Hussain. “It had its moments and its Scorpion gang, but it wasn’t technically slick. Our film is nothing like that Agent Vinod, we’ve only borrowed the title,” points out Saif.
He admits that he didn’t have the budget of a Bond or Bourne movie either, or for that matter, even an animated Tintin. But he still has managed to come up with a film that has sparked off interest with its first poster and promo. “Vinod is not Bond, he’s a very Indian character. The only similarity is that you could put him on a yacht, in a helicopter or in a foreign location and he won’t seem out of place,” says the actor.
“And the places where we’ve filmed have given the movie a scale with 1/10th budget of a Bond movie. We shot in live locations, used locals in crowd scenes instead of an army of junior artistes. We canned incredible car chases with the support of the administration in Morocco and Latvia, and hopefully, we’ve come up with an agent who’s no less exciting than 007.”