When he embraced Babita of Bouffant fame, the audiences chucked eight anna coins at the Central cinema’s screen for more. Provocation: The embrace was straight out of the Kama Sutra – dangling from a tree, he squeezed her tight between his white-trousered legs.
That was Jeetendra, Jeetendra Bond in Farz (1967), a sort of Dr Nahin in which India’s 007 battled baldies, babes and beasties galore. The idli dosai version of the super spy was created by Ravikant Nagaich, the techno-whiz anchored in Chennai.
Jeetendra in his vanilla outfits was a hoot. Imagine Bond saab actually singing Happy burrrday to you and avoiding martinis as if they were sewage water. Still, he has lingered on in your memory, hasn’t he?
Nagaich, incidentally, monopolised the made-in-Chennai Bond franchise for a while, many thanks to Mithun Chakraborty who went kiss-kiss-bang-bang in furry suits and pink pantaloons in Surakshaa (1979) and Wardaat (1981).
A child of the 1960s (yours sincerely) could not sneak his way into the more sexy, finessed-in-Britain James Bond movies which were certified for adults only. But for the desi dudegiri, no problems.
A personal, everlasting favourite was Dharmendra as a secret agent in Aankhen (1968). He had the innate macho style, he didn’t run miles away from a martini.
And he had the women,too, including a very hysterical Mala Sinha and a very deadpan Zeb Rehman (hello, where did she vanish?) Rajesh Khanna steaming it up for Nanda as well as the nation in The Train (also by Nagaich, 1970), Dev Kumar in Spy in Rome (1968) and our TV man Dheeraj Kumar as Raaton ka Raja (1970) were, well, barely seen, forgotten and today just about preserved in the Google files.
Sunny Deol is not likely to remember either The Hero (2003) or Himmat (1996) as his classics. Ditto Akshay Kumar who actually played guess-who in a wacko movie titled Mr Bond (1992).
Still these Bharatiya Bonds are ours. Quite a few of the latter-day Bond capers have not been the greatest. In fact the last two – Die Another Day (2002) and The World Is Not Enough (1999) were strictly sound-and-fury spectacles. The word, however, is pretty strong on Casino Royale.
In this age of remakes, Mumbai’s very own Shaahi Jugaarkhaana is not entirely beyond the realm of imagination.
E-mail author: email@example.com