Aiyaary: Will it break Bollywood's abysmal record of spy films?

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From Baby to Special 26, filmmaker Neeraj Pandey has a credible record of thrillers and his latest venture, Aiyaary, is all set to hit theatres on Friday. Starring Manoj Bajpayee, Sidharth Malhotra, Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher and Rakul Preet Singh, the film is about military officers and the promos hint it is an espionage thriller dealing with corruption within the system.

However, Bollywood does not quite have an impressive record when it comes to spy thrillers in the past. From the 1977 Agent Vinod to the latest Salman Khan-starrer Tiger Zinda Hai, our Hindi film industry often churns out comedies and romantic stories in the name of spy thrillers. While most of these are simply badly-made films, some just don’t emerge as thrillers.

A remarkable trait of Bollywood spies, perhaps modelled on the James Bonds of the world, is that they are never the common face that blends with the crowd. Onscreen spies always bring along their swag and style to the silver screen, adding that dash of unmistakable outstanding quality which will get them identified in a thousand.

Here’s a look at what Bollywood has offered us in the name of spy thrillers, so far:

Agent Vinod

Not that the 1977 film starring Mahendra Sandhu was any better (though it was a box office hit), Saif Ali Khan-Kareena Kapoor Khan-starrer movie was particularly torturous. Directed by Sriram Raghavan, the film stands proof to the fact that even geniuses can err, given the wrong set of ingredients. With a badly written plot, backed by over-the-top acting marred any genius Raghavan may have aimed to show in the film.

Hero The Love Story of A Spy

Sunny Deol was touted as one of the most versatile spies ever in Hindi cinema. However, the film focussed on Priyanka Chopra’s classy dresses and Preity Zinta’s crazy, naive love for Deol. There were some interesting twists and the chase sequences you’d expect in a thriller but it was mainly a love story.


Another film starring Saif Ali Khan, Phantom was directed by Kabir Khan and was yet another disappointment. Despite a good plot - the film was based on Zayed Hussain’s Mumbai Avengers - lazily written script and particularly bad acting killed any thrill the movie could have brought.

Tiger - Ek Tha Tiger and Tiger Zinda Hai 

Salman Khan-Katrian Kaif-starrer EkTha Tiger was a major hit in 2012 and so was the sequel that hit theatres in December last year. However, the films, once again focus on love story of the lead pair - Zoya and Tiger - instead of their endeavours as spies. While Zoya (Katrina) is a Pakistani spy, Tiger aka Salman plays an Indian agent in the franchise. The only part of their work life we see is spent in gunfights and confronting the enemy rather than slyly getting their work done. Would you call that a spy film? We doubt.