Agent Vinod fiftyfiftyme category: Major
I was reminded of an important lesson by this film: In the end, the only person who knows what you'll enjoy is you.
There were many, many negative reviews of this film, and most of them cited valid problems with it. The Vigil Idiot did his usual devastatingly funny shredding of its storyline, lakhs of people dissed both the "techno mujra" and Kareena's performance in it, and krores of people commented on Saif's shiny plastic mask of a face. They were all right, but I was wrong to let them put me off watching it. I'm going to respond to those three areas of complaint separately.
First, the storyline: Yes, it was inane, stretched credibility way past breaking point and had plenty of WTF moments. But so does every action movie, even the good ones. I watched Mission Impossible 4 the other night and loved it, despite being a religiously devoted Tom Cruise anti-fan. It was full of silly stunts and impossible developments, and that's exactly what an action movie is supposed to be about. The moment I saw a Russian hitwoman kill someone in a snowstorm while wearing an insanely short skirt and high heels, I knew Agent Vinod was my kind of action film - a kid's comic book brought to life. What The Vigil Idiot did to Agent Vinod could be done to the Bourne movies and even to the revered and somewhat self-important Dark Knight series. This was a popcorn (or bhujia/katha meetha) entertainer, not above intellectual criticism, simply outside the parameters of such a critique.
Of course, I din't have to include Dil Mera Muft Ka in order to discuss, but it is a highlight of the movie for me. The song itself has been savaged as a hideous and inept mishmash of musical styles, and Bebo's received the usual criticism of her less than naturally fluid dancing style. I am not a big fan of the song per se but I love it in the film, flaws and all. Why? Because Bebo looks good! It seems that Kareena has given up on acting in roles of substance like Chameli or Dolly in Omkara, and has decided to settle for being decorative. While that is disappointing, at least she's very good at it. This is a no-brainer film, and she delivers a solid performance as the intriguing sidekick. In fact my only real gripe with the film was the unnecessary climax to her character's participation in the storyline. I had been hoping for a Mr & Mrs Smith franchise, with Bollywood's own Brangelina.
Finallyy, the issue of Saif's age and appearance. Yes, his face is billiard ball smooth, and yes I wondered whether it was truth serum or botox that Bebo's character was injecting him with in one scene, but I did not find it distracting in this film. In the trailers and promotional stills for Cocktail he makes my skin crawl (something his can't do, of course) looking like an aged lecher flirting with pedophilia next to the two female leads, but because this one was not a romcom, it didn't bother me nearly as much. Returning to MI:4, Cruise is significantly older than Saif, so arguments that Saif is too old to play an action hero are much less plausible than arguments that he's too old to be romancing actresses in their 20s.
Recently some bloggers were participating in a "shameful pleasures" week, and maybe I should have included this in that category. Except that I'm not ashamed to have enjoyed it, only ashamed that I let the opinions of others put me off it for so long. Masterpiece cinema it ain't, and I may never watch it again, but it was a fun watch that delivered exactly what it promised, and that's all that can be asked of any film.