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Bollywood `bad guy' not cut out for Bond villain

V Gangadhar

Gulshan Grover, who lobbied for the rogue's role in the latest James Bond film, has been left out in the cold.



LEFT EMPTY HANDED: Gulshan Grover

Is there some kind of a fog over Bollywood's impact on Western cinema? There has been a buzz, for quite sometime, about plum roles for Aishwarya Rai in Hollywood productions, but nothing tangible has emerged so far. The only offers seem to have come from NRI producers.

And now a London announcement clearly refutes Indian media statements about Gulshan Grover, getting the villain's role in the next James Bond film, `Casino Royale.' Grover, who played the bad guy in dozens of Bollywood films, had been camping in London with his agent to lobby for the role.

"Casino Royale" has a new James Bond, the blonde British actor Daniel Craig.

Grover has appeared in the 2002 Hollywood thriller "Beeper" and some other B grade movies, which did not create much of an impact.

"Casino Royale" is Ian Fleming's first James Bond book where Le Chiffre is the villain. He is a KGB agent with a passion for gambling and beautiful women. He is outwitted by agent 007 in a card game, disowned by the KGB and killed by Bond.

It is hard to imagine `bad man' Grover playing the villain in a James Bond film. The average Bollywood villain is often uncouth, dresses in fancy clothes and utters silly phrases like "Mogambo kush hua." Villainy is often reduced to a farce. Ian Fleming is different. His villain is as memorable as the hero.

Often this larger-than-life personality has been played by major character actors.

The very first James Bond movie, "Dr No" has been named after the villain, who built a huge underwater kingdom off the Jamaican coast and succeeded in bringing down the American rockets launched from Cape Canaveral.

Joseph Wiseman as Dr No, in a dark, long coat, looked far more menacing than the likes of colourful Mogambos.

Another excellent character actor, Robert Kiel, is the bad guy in "The Spy who Loved Me" and "Moonraker."

Fleming's most despicable villain, Auric Goldfinger, has Gert Frobe the portly German character actor in the role.

He cheats at cards and golf while hatching conspiracies to rob Fort Knox where the American government has stored its gold reserves.

Goldfinger is even more despicable because his Korean servant, Oddjob, routinely eats pet cats for dinner, something which the animal loving Britons could never tolerate!

In "From Russia with Love," Robert Shaw is the KGB's official killer, Red Grant.

The most sinister Fleming villain, however, is Ernest Stavero Blofeld who matches wits with Bond in three novels, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," "Thunderball" and "You Only Live Twice."

He plans a biological warfare against Britain, steals a couple of NATO atom bombs and threatens to blow up the West all for a king's ransom.

Blofeld evades Bond twice but is eliminated in his poison garden.

Fleming's villain took him to the Caribbean, the location of his last novel, "The Man with the Golden Gun" where Bond is confronted by gangster Scaramanga who shoots golden bullets from a golden gun.

Fleming's gamut of villainy, played by Western actors, has been captured on screen. It is hard to imagine Bollywood villains like Grover playing Le Chiffre.

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