Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve been a huge fan of the guy who introduces himself on screen as ‘Bond, James Bond!’
If memory serves me right, my tryst with the suave British agent No. 7 with a license to kill, began when I was all of 10 years or thereabouts. A family friend’s wife had gone off to her parent’s place for a few weeks and my mother sent the enforced bachelor a couple of meals to see him through. That kind man wanting to return the favour, did it in the only way he knew – he invited our family out on a movie date. And that was how and why we found ourselves in one of the two cinema theatres in the city of Panjim in Goa, watching Roger Moore in ‘For your eyes only.’ My first ever James Bond movie.
My dad did wonder if this was a movie for the impressionable eyes and minds of us youngsters as the screen soon filled up with fast-paced action and Bond’s romantic capers with half-clad long-legged beauties. But I was, to put it simply, gobsmacked! I can hardly recall the plot (who does anyway?) nor any of those afore-mentioned beauties either. But who cares?
I sat on the edge of the theater seat, my jaw dropped to ground level as I watched a debonair Roger Moore execute a high-voltage escape from the bad guys, zipping through a long and dark pipeline to emerge out on the other side with his piercing blue eyes brighter than the sunlight outside and not a wrinkle on his impeccable designer suit.
As he straightened up and adjusted his bow-tie, I remember sighing dreamily and thinking – oh my my, this is my kinda guy!
To cut a long story short, I was hooked for life. With not many movie options in the two theatres in our city those days, I prowled around the local libraries. My mission – to get my hands by hook or by crook on Bond novels by Ian Fleming, a novelist and naval intelligence officer himself.
I caught up with the movies much later with the help of technology via video cassettes which brought this high-profile, sophisticated and woman-loving Bond alive and shooting from his hip, right into my living room. Thereafter I followed the flamboyant 007 through every character who happened to play his role – from Sean Connery, David Niven and Roger Moore to George Lazenby, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. I loved everything about Bond – right from the opening signature soundtrack to the exotic locales, the hot chase sequences to the ‘hero wins in the end’ plot!
So influenced was I by the high-octane excitement of a Bond movie that for quite a few years, when guests dropped in to our home and made the mistake of asking my name, I would reply, ‘the name is Sharma, Radhika Sharma’, that being my maiden name then. The introduction would be accompanied with a swagger that could give any Bond a run for his money.
Later, my loving but slightly embarrassed parents took to butting in and introducing me to the amused guests themselves. But even they weren’t sure how to react when we were invited out to dinner once. The host came up to me and wanted to know what soft drink he could offer me from the wide variety laid out on the side-board. My family and the other guests almost choked over their drinks as I replied to the host without batting an eye, “I’ll take a Fanta, shaken not stirred!”
And now I am both shaken and stirred with thrill and anticipation as Daniel Craig returns as Commander Bond one last time. Notwithstanding his steely eyes, clenched jaws and grim exterior, Craig’s Bond is more human with his share of love, loss and pain unlike the previous Bonds who seemed remote and unattainable. In spite of famously declaring he would rather slit his wrists than play Bond again, I am glad that Daniel Craig found himself with no time to die after all!
Long live Bond, James Bond!
This piece was published earlier in the Gulf News in the column Off the Cuff.