We were invited to the premiere of Skyfall and the opening of the newest PVR multiplex in the city, at Phoenix Market City. In my mind, going to Kurla requires meticulous planning and as a friend says – Leave immediately after lunch if you want to be there by evening! But all that is really baseless since we managed to get from Versova to the venue in a little over an hour in peak traffic. The mall is huge and sprawling over 4 millions square feet of space and PVR has created one of their best multiplexes inside. The lobby is elegant and would be so even without the red carpet laid out for the opening. The ticket counters are smart not glass fronted as in most places. But the bit that is truly stunning are the two Gold Class screening theatres. Lots of space, plush leather seats that recline fully, call buttons for service, bottled water for each seat and a lovely lounge, full service in between the two theatres – movie watching does not get any better than this. We watched Skyfall in one of these theatres and I would happily go all the way back to enjoy a good movie here anytime!

Now for the movies! I must start by admitting that I had not been a Bond fan for the longest time. The first time I watched a Bond film on screen was when Pierce Brosnan (been drooling at him since the Remington Steele days!) took over in GoldenEye and it had everything to do with me being an admirer of Brosnan and not of James Bond. I had watched some of the earlier Bond movies on tv and video but found them  lacking in substance and too monotonous after a while. There was just that much of the smart man in a dark suit with a sardonic smile drinking a Martini and surrounded by beautiful women, that I could be impressed with and the fluff bored me after a while. But Brosnan and then Craig had me riveted! All this written with all due respect to the millions of Bond fans out there who loved Bond films of yore for the very reasons I did not like them.

Brosnan was as he always is – suave and madly attractive. His first Bond film GoldenEye received a tremendous response from the audience, partly because of the 6 year hiatus of the Bond franchise due to legal disputes and partly because of the leading man. His last Bond film Die Another Day broke all previous records and became the highest grossing Bond film ever. 

What can I say about Daniel Craig other than… he is the James Bond who has grown up! He is no longer just a pretty boy with fancy toys and fancier women. He is human, he gets hurt, he has scars and they show, he errs and thereafter of course redeems himself! Craig is possibly the toughest looking Bond ever cast and that makes him real for me. He looks like a man who can pull off all the crazy chases and brutal battles. (So did Sean Connery – I do admit but I did not watch Bond then) Craig’s Bond is also extremely complex with undercurrents in his character that sometimes flash on the surface before being concealed again. He was so different that I was hooked and that early chase scene in Casino Royale just sealed it for me. (The fact that I find him insanely sexy is besides the point!) There was a huge controversy at his casting, sparked off by his blonde hair and there still is dissent among the followers of the earlier Bonds about Craig not doing justice to the character. However, Roger Joseph Ebert, the American journalist, film critic and screenwriter, who has been described by Forbes as “the most powerful pundit in America” commented after Casino Royale, “Daniel Craig makes a superb Bond: leaner, more taciturn, less sex-obsessed, able to be hurt in body and soul, not giving a damn if his martini is shaken or stirred.”

Skyfall had to be a brilliant film. It marks the 50th anniversary of the franchise; is directed by Sam Mendes and stars Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes apart from Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench! The classic silver Aston Martin, first seen in Connery’s Goldfinger is back and dazzles amidst the anonymous black sedans and SUVs and we get a glimpse of Bond’s childhood. Sam Mendes said..” It was taking the new, tougher Bond — the realer Bond, who has much more of an inner world — and bringing back some of the things that could reconnect me to my inner 13-year-old, that gave a thrill when I was a kid…” and that is how he crafted the film. His Bond has emotions he does not conceal, his villain displays strong bisexual vibes, the sexy Bond girls are there but not really there and  M emerges as the second hero…almost! Dame Judi Dench in her swan song Bond saga is THE Bond woman in the film! Bardem is possibly one of the most intense actors in the world today (do watch Biutiful  if you have doubts about this) and he plays the villainous Raoul Silva with ease. His character is menacing without there being threatening on the outside. I have to admit here that it took me a few minutes to get used to a blonde Bardem. But it also made me realize how clearly his character had been sketched out before the film. Raoul Silva is a riot when he is not blowing up everything in site or hacking into top secret MI6 data. And Fiennes, the star of English theatre and screen enacts a crucial role almost from the sidelines. Two more names worth of a mention belong to the veteran Albert Finney who you need to watch and the delightful Ben Whislaw who plays Q is a small but significant role.

A lot of friends have loved Skyfall and a some have been very disappointed for reasons like ‘too much dialogue in the film’ and ‘the Bond women were hardly there’ and ‘this is not like the usual Bond movies’… I clearly belong to the first club, having thoroughly enjoyed the trek through Istanbul, Macau and Scotland. I am also delighted to note that Daniel Craig has signed up for two more Bond films and wait eagerly for them to release.


Copyright © Taraa Vermaa Senguptaa November 2012

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