From Rishikesh with Love

Posted on October 30, 2010

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With Anil Ambani’s encroachment on Hollywood – DreamWorks, and now, reportedly, MGM – it’s only a matter of time before the moribund James Bond franchise is revived, with an Indian twist.

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OCT 31, 2010 – A SHADOWY FIGURE WALKS ACROSS the screen, viewed through the barrel of revolver trained on him by an unseen gunman. He doesn’t spin around to shoot the enemy. Preemptive strikes are for amateurs. He waits for the bullet to be shot and he holds up his palm, the steel strength of which causes the bullet to ricochet back to the would-be assassin, whose blood spills forth and triggers…

The onset of the James Bond Theme, newly re-interpreted and re-orchestrated by an Oscar-winning Indian composer with instruments just excavated from a prehistoric site in aboriginal Australia. The music, at first, leaves audiences scratching their heads, but the producers issue an assurance that by the fifteenth Indo-Bond adventure, in 2023, this signature tune will finally be recognised for the piece of genius that it is, and it now morphs into…

The song over the title credits, where all the blonde extras in Mumbai are positioned in various states of undress, thus causing panic attacks amongst choreographers employed in other Bollywood productions who now face the dire (and absolutely unacceptable) possibility of using Indian nationals as backup dancers. But this doesn’t concern Bond, who is subsequently revealed as…

A swarthy Tamilian superstar who’s also the biggest box-office draw in all of India. Smiling at Moneypenny, he bows his head and his hat automatically zooms out to take its place on a coat rack, revealing a proudly bald head. Bond has little patience for Moneypenny’s flirting. He’s there for a top-secret briefing from M, otherwise known as…

Maa, or Mother, who is wiping sweat off her forehead with her white sari as her son enters with a stylish stride. The reason for M’s perspiration is twofold. One, she’s hunched over a stove, stirring a fragrant mix of grated carrots, condensed milk, chopped cashew nuts and sugar. Two, she’s worried about a diminutive, six-packed megalomaniac hell-bent on destroying the world simply because he cannot recall a reason not to, owing to the tragic condition of anteretrograde amnesia acquired when his mother – also M – let go of his hand at a crowded religious fair. And the only man on earth who can stop him is…

Bond, who’s now instructed about the only thing that can cure his long-lost brother – the family song, which, having been composed at the time of birth, has thankfully been rendered comprehensible by now. Humming this tune, Bond leaves M’s office, but not before being force-fed a loving spoonful of the fragrant mix of grated carrots, condensed milk, chopped cashew nuts and sugar. Swearing a sacred oath to stop the earth from annihilation while also reuniting the family, Bond enters the laboratories of…

Q, who expresses typically avuncular exasperation as Bond dismisses a freshly minted gadget that will extract cigarettes from their carton and position them in the mouth. With one flick of his fingers, Bond accomplishes the same task. But he still needs the venerable gadget-master to demonstrate the workings of the Locket Locator, which is the only way he can convince his brother about the family connection. Thus armed, Bond sets out to…

Exotic foreign destinations, like the Alps. At a snow-capped peak, Bond is intercepted (and temporarily distracted) by a lissome lass in a billowing chiffon sari. He’s dumbstruck by her apparent imperviousness to freezing temperatures – a scenario that, in other hands, might have lend itself to an entirely different adventure, titled For Your Ice Only – but his apprehensions are cast aside as she erupts into acrobatic contortions in keeping with a song, thus giving the villain’s henchmen a clear shot at Bond. They miss, and a nerve-jangling ski chase ensues. Bond escapes and returns to Goa, only to find…

Felix Lighter, who, unsurprisingly, is able to solve Bond’s crisis of running out of matchsticks. With a newly lit cigarette stoking his neurons – and cupping a glass of fenny (shaken, not stirred) – Bond learns the reason his old CIA pal has come to India, which is to put an end to the dastardly organisation known as SPECTRE (Start Population Explosion in the Country Through Reproductive-organ Enlargement). Patriot that Bond is, he decides it’s time for a detour. He storms SPECTRE’s hideout and confronts…

The ten men behind this master plan, played by a single actor in ten different states of prosthetic makeup, and in a state of fury at having been denied the budgets to make his high-concept films (and being reduced to comedies co-starring actresses several decades his junior). “If the masses of India do not recognise my genius, they deserve to die,” he bellows, before hurling all ten avatars of himself onto Bond, who quickly replicates into a hundred robotic look-alikes in exotic formations and wins the war. Having saved the country, he sets out to save the planet by whipping out his…

Locket Locator, which tunes in to the homing beacon of the diminutive, six-packed brother who’s still lost in actorly contemplation about how best to portray this villain. (Every time he locks in on a strategy, he forgets and has to start all over again.) He is distracted by his moll, Mona, who walks in and announces that an intruder has been caught and strapped in front of the family-jewel-frying laser, and he finally meets…

Bond, who asks his brother, “Do you expect me to talk?” The sibling replies, “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to sing.” Bond bursts into the family song, and memory restored, the would-be villain joins in, tearfully, switching the laser off just in time to ensure he isn’t left nephew-less (or niece-less). The brothers extract from their lockets halves of a photograph that fit perfectly into place. They hasten back to M, who’s still bent over the fragrant mix of grated carrots, condensed milk, chopped cashew nuts and sugar.

The world rejoices that Bond has been revived to die another day, and that he will return in an adventure at the behest of a premier Indian politician of Italian descent. It will be titled On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

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