New Delhi: Four men meet under the cover of anonymity at a pub perched on top of a hill at Jungfrau, in the Bernese Alps, accessible only by a malfunctioning cable car. They order their drinks (single malt, on the rocks, gin and tonic, vodka, neat and lager) and decide on not revealing their real identities.
The story of the graphic novel Agent Vinod - The Jungfrau Encounter lurches forward in a series of flashbacks that includes sexual fetishes, intrigue, action, cheesy one-liners and some severe violence.
Jungfrau is known as much for its wild beauty as for its steep inaccessibility. It is the pride of the Swiss Alps and its most visited tourist spot. Jungfrau, as the exotic location for comic hero Agent Vinod's first major operation since his inception, may be an unusual choice but it works for the story.
On closer inspection, the men at the table all have sinister looks and even more dubious backgrounds. They have one thing in common; their mutual hatred for the elusive RAW agent. The plot is set in vivid flashbacks in which a Ministry of State Security, Chinese secret service agent tells the others why he hates Vinod so much.
An operation in Havana, during which he connects with a rogue General ready to sell blueprints dating back to the Cuban missile crisis, goes horribly wrong when a sexual escapade involving sadomasochism end in Vinod chopping off one of his hands.
Yes, there's torture, extreme violence and lame lines such as "I am your mother's boyfriend." Yogesh Chandekar's story and script is not the best - riddled with typos and awkward sentences - but it keeps you engrossed till the end. More importantly it sets the tone for Vinod's future escapades. Vinod is no James Bond. The sleekness of the crime fighting superspy is missing but he is a homegrown comic book hero who makes up for his coldness with panache.
What majorly works for the graphic novel is Mumbai-based illustrator Saumin Patel's stunning art work. Each character has a background etched out properly with loving attention to the details. The hero bears a passing resemblance to actor Saif Ali Khan who has written a foreward for the novel but the story is nothing like the film at all. But if you have grown up with Dragon Ball, Naruto, Flash Gordon, Mandrake and Phantom, there is a good chance you will like your new neighbourhood superhero Vinod.
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