The Name Is Bond, James Bond: The Day We Said Hi to Agent 007

Dr. No. the first James Bond film, starring Sean Conner as 007 was released in 1962.

3 min read

There’s a popular anecdote which has done the rounds around Bollywood circles over several years now. It involves a particular audition and the man who appeared for it. It is said that Sean Connery was first rejected for the role of James Bond in the very first film of the franchise, Dr. No. When he was apprised of the rejection, Connery apparently walked out in anger. It was when he turned away and paced towards the door that his gait, demeanour, and personality caught the fancy of the selectors. Dr. No was first released today, 54 years ago.

Ian Fleming had started writing his series of James Bond spy novels in the 1950s, with the first book, Casino Royale published in 1952. Released 10 years after the first Bond novel was published, Dr. No was a relatively low budget film which became a financial success. It also inspired a series of spy movies throughout the ’60s. It still rated to be the finest installment of the series. We thought of sharing some James Bond memorabilia with you.

The Far-reaching Franchise

The 2006 <i>Casino Royale </i>poster.
The 2006 Casino Royale poster.

Dr. No and the other two films that followed, From Russia with Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964), are the cornerstones of Bond-mania. Like the early Lennon-McCartney singles that spurred Beatlemania, they signaled the coming of bigger, more elaborate things to come Not only were these movies terrifically entertaining, they also delivered a sort of jet-age holodeck experience, granting regular folk an opportunity to glimpse the future awaiting them. As of 1960, fewer than 2 percent of all Americans had traveled internationally by air. So both Dr. No and From Russia with Love include what are essentially fetish shots of Pan Am jets landing on runways as air-traffic controllers announce their arrival. (“Hello, London, your flight PA1 just landed in Istanbul.”)

A staggering 26 films have been releasedas part of the franchise. The last Bond, Daniel Cgraig has announced his dissociation with the franchise. Many have followed Connery – Roger Moore, the not-so-praiseworthy Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. There have beem rumours about Benedict Cumberbatch becoming the next Bond, but the actor has refuted such claims.

Feming’s books are far more gritty and searing than the Bond movies. His Bond registers fear and panic and has hangovers. But he’s also something of a bizarre, half-mad sociopath. Here is how Fleming, through Bond’s eyes, rather creepily describes Vesper Lynd, the first Bond girl in Casino Royale:

Her medium-length dress was of grey soie sauvage with a square-cut bodice, lasciviously tight across her fine breasts. The skirt was closely pleated and flowered down from a narrow, but not a thin, waist. She wore a three-inch, hand-stitched black belt.

In Goldfinger, Bond, while tracking the villain through France, stops in Orléans – a place he dislikes, “a priest and myth ridden town without gaiety” and takes in “one of his favourite meals: two oeufs cocotte à la crème, a large sole meunière (Orleans was close enough to the sea. The fish of the Loire are inclined to be muddy) and an adequate Camembert. He drank a well-iced pint of Rosé d’Anjou and had a Hennessy’s Three Star with his coffee.”

James Bond in India

A scene from Octopussy. (Photo: YouTube screengrab)
A scene from Octopussy. (Photo: YouTube screengrab)

James Bond arrived in India during the 1980s. In the 1983 film Octopussy, Udaipur was one the major shooting locations. The Shiv Niwas Palace (Bond's hotel), the Taj Lake Palace and Jag Mandir Palace which doubled as Octopussy’s home (played by Maud Adams) and Monsoon Palace (Kamal Khan's residence)featured prominently in the film.

In the film a tuk-tuk driver picks up Bond and Vijay and we see Bond check in at Shiv niwas. Later, Bond plays at the hotel casino and has dinner with Magda (Kristina Wayborn) next to the swimming pool.

Later in the film, Bond visits Octopussy's home, the Taj Lake Palace, also known as the floating palace, now a hotel. Remember the pond and the terrace on which they chat?

The Monsoon Palace served as villain Kamal Khans (Louis Jourdan), house. Bond is held captive in the palace, from where he escapes, leading to the film’s finale.

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