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Bond meets Gandhi

 | September 14, 2011

The secret agent’s gun may well run out of fire as it clashes with the Father’s peace petals!

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Mahatma Gandhi, India’s Father of the Nation, believed in a world without violence. He never used a sword, never fired a gun, never lived by the bullet. Gandhi never killed.

Later in life, dressed in a mere loin cloth, he frustrated the might of the British gun and pulled the sun down over a whopping empire.

In stark contrast, James Bond – the fictional character that Ian Fleming, British author, journalist and naval intelligence officer, created – did just about everything that Gandhi was opposed to.

Bond loved guns, dressed to kill, raced in fancy cars, cavorted with a bevy of beauties in various stages of undress and pumped bullets into the opponent with a devil-may-care attitude. He had the licence of course.

Bond was first created in the 1953 “Casino Royale”, with the British spy, famously nicknamed 007, living on in 11 more novels and nine short stories. The novels have sold 100 million copies globally, and have been celebrated in many movies.

Right from David Niven to Sean Connery to Roger Moore to Pierce Brosnan to Daniel Craig have all been Bond on the screen, directed by a string of men.

What is more, long after Fleming died in 1964, James Bond has remained immortal, the 007 finding new authors to keep alive the Ian legacy.

Ironical as it may sound, it is this James Bond who will meet Gandhi – and that too at Sabarmati, where lies the Mahatma’s renowned ashram.

Shooting in India

On the banks of the Sabarmati, just outside Ahmedabad in the Western Indian State of Gujarat, British actor Daniel Craig will play Bond in a film, titled for now as “Bond 23”.

Craig will jump from one train to another in the Sabarmati railway yard, and get into a swanky sports car to chase the villain in a violent do-or-die game.

And standing probably as a helpless witness to 007’s nail-biting adventures will be the Gandhi ashram, where once the Apostle of Peace preached non-violence and ahimsa, urging his countrymen to protest peacefully, never to lift a finger even when the hoofs of British horses rose menacingly.

The British lost this war that they had hoped their canons would help win.

But no such ways with Bond. A bullet for a bullet is his motto – and this will be on full display by the Sabarmati.

After initial hesitation, New Delhi permitted the movie shoot that will also happen in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and Goa.

“We’ve also finalised Goa and Mumbai as the shooting locations,” confirms Pravesh Sahni, line producer of the film. “Most of Bond’s sequences in India will be shot around trains. But exact spots are yet to be fixed.”

Sources, however, reveal that the Sabarmati railway yard, the scenic Dudhsagar waterfalls and a stretch on the Mumbai-Konkan railway line are among the preferred places.

Sahni adds: “Things are moving in a positive direction and I must say that the Railway Ministry has been very helpful. They are also keen that the Bond movie is shot in India.”

Earlier, the Indian Railway Ministry was not exactly forthcoming with permissions, because they meant laborious re-working of train schedules. They also involved stopping passenger trains for about eight hours a day for a week.

The Bond production team was pushed then into thinking up of an alternative locale, and South Africa seemed favourable. But then things have now been sorted out with Indian Railways.

Guns and roses

The line production company in India, Take One, is now scouting around for locations close to a large water body or sea, since there is one crucial scene which shows Bond jumping into it from the top of a train.

Shooting spots in Mumbai are yet to be finalised. But Chhatrapati Shivaji Rail Terminus, Crawford Market, Mohammad Ali Road and some parts of south Mumbai are in the running for 007’s sexy and smoky adventures.

The director of the US$150 million movie, Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Cabaret and Oliver), made a secret visit to Mumbai recently along with production designer Terry Bamber for the film’s recce.

The movie will open towards the end of 2012 – and as Gandhi’s Sabarmati comes alive on the screen with Bond’s footfalls, car chases and gadgets display, the secret agent’s gun may well run out of fire as it clashes with the Father’s peace petals!

Gautaman Bhaskaran is a Chennai-India based author, columnist and film critic, and can be contacted at [email protected]. He is an FMT columnist.


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