“Bond. James Bond”. Fifty years ago this week, Sean Connery uttered those immortal words in Dr No, bringing author Ian Fleming’s secret agent to life. Six actors and 22 movies later (the 23rd, Skyfall will be out next month); more than half the world’s population has seen a Bond flick and it’s become the longest running and one of the most successful film franchises of all time.
Far out gadgets, great music and insane villains — every Bond movie has them. But ask any man what he loves the most about 007’s adventures, and it’s mostly always the same answer — the Bond girls. Graham Rye, the publisher and editor of 007 Magazine, is also the author of The James Bond Girls, the definitive book on the subject. Excerpts from an interview:
Who’s your favourite Bond girl of all time?
Ursula Andress. She played Honey Ryder in Dr No and was the first Bond girl on screen. She’s the yardstick for every other Bond girl who followed.
What goes into making a Bond girl? Are there any Bollywood actresses who could make it?
The first thing — She must be a head turner. You’ve got to have a woman in that role, that’s going to make a man look twice and make Bond want to risk his life to save her. When it comes to actresses in Bollywood, the current lot is so beautiful; I don’t know how on earth one could choose one over the other. But I see it happening in future movies; it’s a forgone conclusion that an Indian woman will be a
Kabir Bedi was a bad guy in Octopussy — how would you rate him as a Bond villain?
I thought he was good, actually. He’s got fantastic presence and charisma. When you look at him now, his face is even more interesting. It might be a great idea to bring him back to the series.
Many have taken the literary Bond ahead, after Fleming passed away. Who has been most faithful to Fleming?
For me, the only one that works is Colonel Sun written by Kingsley Amis under the pseudonym Robert Markham in 1968. Everything you’d expect from a Fleming novel, this one had it. What’s interesting is that in the latest Bond novel Carte Blanche, Q is an Indian and his office is described as being plastered with pictures of Indian cricketers.
Why do you think Bond has endured for 50 years?
Bond has a universal appeal; it bridges all cultures. It doesn’t matter from where you are; everyone enjoys the excitement and thrills of a Bond film. Like diamonds, Bond is forever.
1962>Sean Connery debuts as 007 in Dr No on October 5.
1963>From Russia With Love introduces the Bond title song and Desmond Llewelyn as Q.
1964>Creator Ian Fleming passes away. The Aston Martin DB5 makes its debut in Goldfinger. Shirley Bassey sings the title song and will do two more.
1966>Connery announces retirement after You Only Live Twice.
1969>George Lazenby becomes Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
1971>Lazenby quits and Connery is back in his sixth outing as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever
1973>Roger Moore is the third actor as 007 in Live and Let Die. Paul McCartney & Wings do the theme song.
1983>Octopussy — Bond’s first adventure in India is released.
1986>Moore retires after seven movies at the age of 57. Timothy Dalton is now 007 in The Living Daylights. He will do one more Bond before quitting.
1995>After a gap of six years, Pierce Brosnan is the new 007 in GoldenEye.
2005>After four flicks, Brosnan is out for a new and younger Bond and a reboot of the franchise. Daniel Craig debuts in Casino Royale.
2012>The 50th Anniversary of the franchise. October 5 is James Bond Day worldwide, with a series of events, auctions and retrospectives. Bond’s 23rd Skyfall releases next month.
Udaipur, where Octopussy was shot, remains obsessed with their Bond claim to fame. Most guesthouses and small budget hotels run the film daily (see image). Famous locales from the movie are showed off by residents and guides.
“Goodbye Mr. Bond…” — You know what comes next. In the Bond movies to date, there have been dozens of assorted megalomaniacs, psychopaths, assassins and henchmen — and each one more despicable than the next. Their mission: to ensure the death of 007; and the more painful his demise, the better. In the fifty years of the franchise, Kabir Bedi is the only Indian actor to have played a Bond villain. Kabir Bedi shares with MiDDay — “It’s a great feeling to have acted in the James Bond series, the most successful, longest running franchise in film history. Bond fans from around the world still write to me in great numbers. Many call Octopussy their favourite Bond film.”
Octopussy, which was shot largely on location in Udaipur, features Bedi as Gobinda, the tall, charismatic Indian who tries to kill Bond a few times in some thrilling action sequences.
There’s a high octane chase in an Indian market, a fight on top of a speeding train; and the grand finale finds Gobinda and Bond on the outside of an airborne plane! Tennis ace Vijay Amritraj also makes his big screen debut as Bond’s ally in the movie, only to die an agonising death at the hands of Gobinda and his men. On his personal favourites in the franchise, Bedi says, “Roger Moore was the Bond with whom I starred, but Sean Connery and Daniel Craig are my favourites. My favourite Bond villain was Donald Pleasence as Ernst Stavro Blofeld in You Only Live Twice.”