James Bond, employee of the British secret service Mi6, repeated saviour of the world, bed-warmer for countless women and proto geek, is the best-known fictitious spy in popular culture. Movies featuring Ian Fleming’s creation rarely fail, including in India, where Bond-age, as the genre is slyly known, has encouraged a fair share of knock-offs.

Behold Agent Vinod, the original one from 1977, who doesn’t let a Third  World production budget and a lack of charisma prevent him from solving the case of an abducted government scientist.

The idea of a super-spy who is a patriot, a braveheart, a clotheshorse, and a babe magnet has stirred many filmmakers and writers to create Indian avatars of Bond. One of the best-known is Gunmaster G9 from the 1979 movie Sukaksha, starring Mithun Chakraborty as the poor man’s 007. A sequel two years later, called Wardat, saw Gunmaster G9 battle biological terrorism in the form of murderous locusts.

Bond-age includes dastardly villains, outlandish sets on, above and below ground level, oomph-oozing women, and gadgets that make Apple’s product line seem conservative. Vijay Anand’s Jewel Thief (1967) and Ramanand Sagar’s Charas (1976) are just two films that feature sets and characters straight out of a Bond movie. Ramesh Sippy’s Shaan (1980) is a Bond tribute all the way, from its opening credits to its bald villain Shakaal (played by Kulbhushan Kharbanda), who is inspired by Bond arch-villain Blofeld. Shakaal’s high-tech underwater lair, comprising a revolving table, trapdoors and man-eating crocodiles, wouldn't be out of place in a 007 joint.

Bond mania lived well into the nineties. We present Mr Bond, played by Akshay Kumar, who saves innocent children from the clutches of the nefarious criminal Dragon.

James Bond’s screen image took a beating after the stupendous success of the Jason Bourne trilogy between 2002 and 2007, leading to a rewrite of the Bond-age code. The new Bond films eschew campiness in favour of gritty action and more credible characters, plots and villains. The shadows have kept pace accordingly. Local spy thrillers are now a combination of Bond and Bourne, taking the best of both but never forgetting to retain the unique quality of the Indian super-sleuth: apart from everything else, he can sing and dance too.